TULUM, Mexico – President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) seeks to breathe new life into passenger trains, once a thriving mode of transportation in Mexico up until the 1990s. The two flagship projects at the forefront of this revival are the Isthmus Train and the Maya Train, with plans to eventually connect them, facilitating seamless travel from Veracruz to Cancún or Tulum.
The Isthmus Train is a pivotal component of the Interoceanic Corridor, set to unite the ports of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz and Salina Cruz in Oaxaca. On the other hand, the Maya Train will traverse over 1,500 kilometers in southeastern Mexico, with the Tulum International Airport serving as one of its complementary components.
How will you journey from Veracruz to Cancún by passenger train? As announced by Raymundo Morales Ángeles, the Director General of the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CIIT), the Isthmus Train will comprise several branches. The first is Line Z, a 308-kilometer stretch connecting Coatzacoalcos to Salina Cruz, which is already 90 percent complete, with President López Obrador conducting a test journey.
Line FA will connect Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz to Palenque in Chiapas, where it will intersect with the Maya Train, running through Cancún and Tulum in its fifth section. This branch will consist of 310 kilometers of tracks, 91 bridges, and 680 drainage works, currently progressing at 34.87 percent completion.
Morales Ángeles predicts that the Veracruz to Chiapas branch will commence operations in March 2024. Notably, the Maya Train is scheduled for inauguration from December 2023 onwards, as stated by President López Obrador.
Another crucial branch will connect Ixtepec in Oaxaca to Ciudad Hidalgo in Chiapas, playing a vital role in linking the Interoceanic Corridor with Guatemala. This branch will encompass 459 kilometers of track and an impressive 526 bridges to navigate the multitude of rivers and lagoons in this southeastern Mexican region.
What about the progress of the Tulum International Airport? Recently, President López Obrador conducted an inspection of the Tulum International Airport project, affirming that it will also be inaugurated in December, coinciding with the Maya Train’s opening. This project is a collaborative effort involving civilian workers and military engineers from the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena).
According to federal government data, the Tulum International Airport is poised to accommodate 5.5 million passengers annually and facilitate 32,000 operations each year. It will feature a 3.7-kilometer-long runway, a control tower, and 13 positions for commercial aircraft.
The Tulum International Airport aims to alleviate the congestion at Cancún’s airport, which served 8.4 million passengers in just the first quarter of 2023. The integration of the Isthmus Train with the Maya Train is expected to further boost tourism through land travel.