Mexico calls for international help to build $3.3bn high-speed rail line

Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) has invited contractors and consultants around the world to tender for work on a high-speed rail line linking Mexico City with Querétaro to its north-west.

The project is expected to cost $3.3bn and is part of a $9.4bn programme of freight and passenger rail projects announced by SCT in February.

A statement by the ministry said the line would be designed for operation at up to 300km/h. This would allow it to carry 23,000 passengers a day over the 210km between Buenavista station in Mexico City and Querétaro in 59 minutes.

The ministry added that the project would create 20,000 direct jobs and take 18,000 passenger cars off the road.

The central Mexican city of Querétaro is at the centre of one of the most economically dynamic regions in the country, and is the Mexican base of a number of international construction and engineering firms, including Bombardier, Siemens, Hitachi, Saint-Gobain and ThyssenKrupp.

Canada’s Bombardier, which is the world’s biggest train maker, and Germany’s Siemens have both said they are planning to put in a tender for the line.

SCT says construction will start by the end of the year and commercial services are expected to begin in the second half of 2017.

The other passenger lines contemplated in the $9.4bn programme include one between Mexico City and Toluca in the west, and another between Mexico City and the Yucatán peninsula in the far south-east of the country.

Long-distance passenger services were severely curtailed in Mexico after the privatisation of the national railway in the 1990s. These new lines will fulfil promises made by President Enrique Peña Nieto to resurrect a national rail network during his 2012 election campaign.

About $2.3bn will be spent on increasing the capacity of freight lines. Perhaps the most significant of these schemes is the construction of the Manzanillo tunnel on the line between Aguascalientes and Guadalajara in the north-west of the country; this will double the amount of goods the line can move and reduce the distance between Manzanillo and Altamira by 200km, or 16 hours.

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