Work on Mexico’s 951km Maya Train line is expected to begin at the end of April, according to the president of the National Fund for Tourism Promotion.
Rogelio Jiménez Pons told an audience of journalists at President LÃ³pez Obrador’s Friday morning news conference that the first phase would consist of five sections of track, the first of which is expected to start on 30 April. Another will begin on 18 May and two others on 25 May, he said.
The first phase of the $7.4bn line will run from Palenque in Chiapas State to CancÃºn in Quintana Roo, passing through Tabasco, Campeche and Yucatán states.
Jiménez also presented a schedule for tenders for the first two sections of the first phase. A workshop of interested bidders, held on 22 January, attracted 85 companies, including companies from Brazil, Canada, China, Portugal and Spain.
The Mexican government’s map of the Mayan railway
The first tenders will be opened on 7 February, on the government’s CompraNet online platform; winners will be announced on 17 April.
Although a 15 December referendum showed overwhelming support for the train among the indigenous communities it will affect, members of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and indigenous organizations called the consultation process a sham and vowed to fight the project.
President LÃ³pez Obrador said the line would respect biodiversity and archaeology. He commented: "There is no work that is worth more than health or the cultural heritage of our people … we want growth with well-being and without destroying the land."
Top image: Rogelio Jiménez Pons at the 24 January press conference (Government of Mexico)