A consortium led by Portuguese contractor Mota-Engil in association with China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and three Mexican firms has been chosen to build the first section of Mexico’s Mayan railway, after offering a price of 15.538 billion pesos (US$630.2m). Â
The consortium, of which Mota-Engil owns 58%, beat 13 other bidders on the shortlist.
It will now build 227km of the line between Palenque in Chiapas state to Escárcega in Campeche.
The entire Tren Maya network is being divided into five packages with a total length of about 1,500km and a total cost of $7.4bn, making it the largest publicly funded infrastructure project in recent Latin American history.
Mota-Engil said the award "demonstrates the group’s technical capabilities in railway construction".
It added that the contract, "confirms the sustainability of its business and the commercial dynamics even in times of pandemic".
The contract was awarded by the Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo (Fonatur).
It commented in a press statement the bids were analysed by the UN’s Office for Project Services, which concluded that the consortium led by the Mota-Engil Mexico, together with CCCC, Grupo Cosh, Eyasa and Gavil IngenierÃa represented "the best value for money".
It added that the judging was accompanied by a "social witness" chosen by the Ministry of the Public Function to check that it was "transparent, efficient, economic, impartial, honest and with in strict adherence to the applicable provisions".
Work on the line is due to begin on 30 April, if Mexico’s Ministry of Health gives its approval.
The project, which will connect tourist destinations and population centres on the Yucatán peninsula, is being billed by Mexican president Andrés Manuel LÃ³pez Obrador as the key to restarting the country’s economy after the coronavirus recession.
The line will cross the Yucatán peninsula in southeast Mexico through the states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.
The project extends a previous plan to build a 900km line through Quintana Roo, Chiapas and Tabasco. Finance will come from funds collected through Mexico’s tourism tax, which amount to about $370m a year.
The Mota-Engil and CCCC joint venture is also one of 15 bidders for the second stage of the line (see further reading).
Image: Temple of the Masks in Kabah (Rob Young/CC BY-SA 3.0)