On Monday, Mexican President Peña Nieto announced the
government's plan to invest an impressive $100 billion in transportation infrastructure
over the next five years. The money would go to projects like investing in four
airports, seven seaports and over 3,000 miles of highway. Peña Nieto also
emphasized a revival of Mexico passenger trains, one of the promises he made
when he first took the presidency in 2012.
In addition to passenger trains connecting large cities in
central Mexico, the plan also includes a high-speed train system in the Yucatan
Peninsula, an idea that has been kicked around for several years. While experts
are scratching their heads over how to build a railroad through the mountainous
terrain of central Mexico, the flat jungle of Yucatan looks a bit more
promising. With a high-speed train through the Yucatan, the government hopes to
achieve several benefits:
Faster transportation between Yucatan cities: Currently, the
ADO bus system takes about four hours to get from Cancun to Merida, and two
hours to get from Cancun to Tulum. A high-speed train would make it easier for
tourists in Cancun and the Riviera Maya to make day trips to destinations like
Merida, Chichen Itza and Tulum during their vacation, increasing travel
diversity in the area. Locals commuting between the states of Yucatan and
Quintana Roo for school, family or business would also find it much easier to
make a weekend trip with less travel time.
Improved infrastructure: On Monday, Peña Nieto stated, "Nobody
can doubt that better infrastructure translates into more competitiveness and
productivity, which will ignite economic growth and social well-being."
More jobs: The Yucatan Peninsula is a magnet for Mexican
job-seekers as it is, with people from all over the country moving to the area
for employment in the tourism market. A new industry would open up even more job
opportunities as the local population continues to rise.
Potential for future investment: The Yucatan's high-speed
train would start out relatively small, connecting a few cities in Yucatan
state. Over time, the train network has possibility to grow and bring even more
investment, jobs, convenience and income to the area. Tsung-Chung Kao, a
professor at the railroad engineering program at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, notes that, "Every country that builds a first high-speed
line, builds a second. All around the world, people are building like crazy."
To set an example for the rest of Latin America: Mexico has
long been a leader in Latin America when it comes to technology and economy,
and building this new infrastructure would strengthen the country's spot at the
head of the pack. "Mexico can be the great logistics platform for Latin
America," Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said. "We
have to create significant savings in the time and cost of transporting
In the end, if the Yucatan high-speed train project can
overcome obstacles like potential maintenance issues and attracting passengers
to pay the higher ticket prices, it could be a great addition to the economy of
the Yucatan Peninsula.
Originally from Virginia, Laura Winfree moved south of the border in
2005 to major in tourism at La Salle University Cancun. Today, she works
as a copy writer for a local travel agency in addition to freelance
blogging, writing and translating. Laura writes about her life as an
expat in Mexico at http://gringationcancun.com and
http://www.facebook.com/gringationcancun. Nightclubs and weekly beach
trips are her favorite part of living in Cancun!
Author: Laura Winfree on Google+