Judge halts work on section of Mexico’s Mayan railway

The Mexican government’s rendering of the completed line
A legal challenge to Mexico’s Yucatán train project has led to an indefinite suspension of work on a 60km coastal stretch between the towns of Playa del Carmen and Tulum, reports Al Jazeera. The ruling follows another in April that provisionally suspended work.

The action was brought by a group of environmental campaigners who are concerned that work on the line will damage the region’s wildlife, forests and its subterranean systems of caves and sinkholes.

The judgement, delivered by a federal judge on Monday, found that construction plans did not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation” and may cause “irreversible damage” to the region’s ecosystems.

A map of the planned Mayan train line. The affected fifth section is south of Cancún (Trainspotting34/CC BY-SA 4.0)

It was also found that authorities had failed to carry out environmental impact studies before starting construction of the fifth section of the line, one of several being built by the Mexican army.

The 1,525km “Tren Maya” is a flagship policy of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Mexico’s National Fund for Tourism Development presently estimates the cost to be a little over $10bn, although other sources have suggested that it may be as high as $25bn.

The government can appeal the decision, but even if successful it is likely to delay the completion of the system beyond its target date of the end of 2023.

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