The Tren Maya (sometimes also Mayan Train or Maya Train) is a 1,525-kilometre (948 mi) intercity railway in Mexico that will traverse the Yucatán Peninsula; construction began in June 2020 and is scheduled to be completed by 2024. The railway begins in Palenque in Chiapas and travels northeast towards Cancún in Quintana Roo via two routes that encircle the peninsula. The project aims to connect tourist destinations in the Caribbean with lesser-known sites inland, including historic Mayan sites from which it derives its name.[1][2]

Mayan Train
Logo Tren Maya horizontal eslogan.png
Mapa Tren Maya.jpg
Native nameTren Maya (Spanish)
Tsiímin K'aák (Yucatec Maya)
OwnerMexican Armed Forces
LocaleChiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, Quintana Roo; Mexico
Construction began16 December 2018
Proposed opening2023
Line length1,525 km (948 mi)
Number of tracks1
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in) standard gauge
Operating speed160 km/h (99 mph)


The Mayan Train project was announced in September 2018 by Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, following earlier proposals to build a shorter 900-kilometre (560 mi) line. Previous presidential administrations had also proposed their own high-speed rail projects, but were unsuccessful in attaining funding.[1][3] It would use existing right of way from Ferrosur as well as new tracks constructed through the jungle.[4][5] The project was derided by political opposition groups as a stunt for López Obrador, who had also cancelled a major airport project in Mexico City favored by his predecessor.[6] The Zapatista Army of National Liberation announced that it would oppose the project.[7]

December 2019 consultationEdit

On 15 November 2019, President López Obrador declared that a referendum on the Mayan Train would be held on 15 December 2019 in Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo.[8]

The weekend of 15–16 December 2019, 92.3% of the people who participated in the consultation voted in favor, while 7.4% voted against the proposal.[9] 100,940 people voted,[10] 2.36% of the 3,536,000 registered voters in the 84 municipalities affected.[11]

The Mexican Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the vote. They pointed out that voters were provided with only the positive effects of the project (improved attention to water supplies, health, education, employment, housing, environmental protection, and culture) but were not informed of the negative effects. The Human Rights Commission also criticized the translations of the material used, the short period of time for the election, and low turnout, particularly among indigenous women. They noted that many potential voters did not have the financial resources to travel to the voting locations, and that the majority of voters were municipal employees.[12] The government rejected the criticisms, stating the consultation met international standards.[13]

Progreso extensionEdit

In June 2022 Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López Hernández announced a planned extension to Progreso and Umán in Yucatán.[14]


Funding for the project will come primarily from a tourism tax levied in the region, as well as funds diverted from other programs, including the Mexican Grand Prix.[3][7]

The project, led by the National Fund for Tourism Development [es] (Fonatur), in December 2018 was estimated to cost 150 billion pesos (US$7.4 billion) and attract 8,000 daily riders.[15] An alternative study by a public policy think tank in 2019 estimated the cost of the project would be 480 billion pesos (US$25.3 billion), supported by the 90 percent cost overrun on the Toluca–Mexico City railway project.[6] In October 2021 Fonatur revised the construction estimate to 200 billion pesos.[16]

In October 2020 the estimated total cost of the project, including 30 years of operating and maintenance but not including electrification, was about 321 billion pesos.[17]

The Secretariat of Tourism will receive a 647.1% increase in its budget for 2021 (MXN $38,613.4 million), of which 94% is destined for the Mayan Train.[18]

In December 2020 president López Obrador announced that the armed forces would operate three sections of the route, and that profits would be used to strengthen finances for pensioners and retirees of the armed forces.[19] In March 2021 Fonatur general director Rogelio Jiménez Pons said that the military would own the entire route, not just the three sections, and would receive all of the profits.[20]

Jiménez Pons stated in September 2021 that the cost of a single trip for locals, for the section that goes from Cancún to Playa del Carmen will be around 50 pesos. Tourists will be expected to pay between 800 to 1000 pesos for the same trip. When explaining the difference in price, he stated that the tourist will have additional services such as restaurants.[21]


On 16 December 2018, president López Obrador conducted a Mayan ritual to commemorate the start of construction on the Mayan Train project.[1] The railway will also accommodate local passenger traffic and freight shipments in addition to tourist functions.[7][22] The first phase of the project is anticipated to open in the late 2020s, but tourism officials in the region have proposed accelerating work for a 2023 opening.[7][23]

The route consists of seven sections. Section I runs from Palenque to Escárcega (228 km); section II from Escárcega to Calkiní (235 km); section III from Calkiní to Izamal (172 km); section IV from Izamal to Cancún (257 km); section V from Cancún to Tulum (121 km); section VI from Tulum to Bacalar (254 km); and section VII from Bacalar to Escárcega (287 km).[24]

Business leaders in Mérida, Yucatán, expressed their support on 31 January 2020, for building four kilometers of the railway underground as it passes through the city of Mérida. In this way, the train will not threaten the city's historic center. They are also optimistic that the tourist train, in combination with improvements in energy, airports, and seaports, will make the region economically competitive with the North and the Bajío.[25] Fonatur later announced that the train would initially not stop in Mérida, but near a hacienda 8 km away.[26] They said that by 2025 the station will relocate to La Plancha Park in Mérida.[27]

Construction began in June 2020.[28] The construction companies are Mota-Engil México SAPI and China Communications Construction Company LTD for stretch one (Plenque-Escárcega), Operadora CICSA and FCC Construcción for stretch two (Escárcega-Calkiní), Construcciones Urales and GAMI Ingeniería e Instalaciones for stretch three (Calkiní-Izmal), and Grupo ICA for stretch four (Izmal–Cancún).[29] In September 2020 Fonatur rejected a proposal of investment firm BlackRock for the fifth stretch (125 km) of the project, including improvements to the Tulum–Cancún highway.[30][31]

In February 2021 Fonatur awarded a contract to Acciona and Grupo México for 60.3 km of electrified double rail tracks for section five between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.[32]

As of January 2021, plans call for diesel-electric trains running at up to 160 km/h.[24] In May 2021 Fonatur contracted with a consortium headed by Alstom to supply rolling stock and related equipment. The rolling stock will be manufactured at Alstom's factory in Ciudad Sahagún. The contract also includes European Train Control System signalling and control equipment.[32]

López Obrador has said the project will be completed prior to the end of his term in 2024. A market survey conducted by Fonatur, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other consultants in 2019 found that a majority of 21 construction companies consider this too fast, an unreasonable time to construct so much new rail, and others have expressed fear for a disaster from quality work such as the May 2021 Mexico City Metro overpass collapse.[33][34] In January 2022, to speed up construction, the route was changed to no longer enter Playa del Carmen.[35] As of June 2021, 10% of the project had been completed.[36] This had increased to 25% by February 2022.[37][38]


Environmental and indigenous rights activists objected to construction of new tracks through the jungle.[4][5]

On the 26th anniversary of its armed uprising, 1 January 2020, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation expressed its opposition to the project and declared that the consultation provided only positive information to voters prior to voting.[39]

Groups close to the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) plan to seek injunctions against the train project and other megaprojects in the region. The CNI is looking at three-pronged action: social awareness campaigns, media campaigns, and legal actions.[40] On 28 January 2020, a judge in Campeche issued a temporary injunction against construction of the railway because was approved in a "simulated consultation."[41] In a visit to the city of Campeche, President López Obrador defended the train and pointed out that not only had the train received its greatest support in the state of Campeche, but also that more than half the route would run through the state—worth MXN $60 billion of the $130 billion the government plans to invest in total. He said the section from Escárcega to Cancún should be open for tourist, passenger, and freight traffic in 2023, but that the route will not pass through the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.[42]

In November 2020 the Regional Indigenous Council of Xpujil delivered a petition with 268,000 signatures to the Campeche Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources asking that the project be suspended because of environmental concerns.[43] Residents of Chocholá, Mérida, and Izamal, in Yucatán obtained a temporary delay in construction in January 2021 until Fonatur and SEMARNAT report on an environmental impact assessment.[44]

On 3 March 2021, an injunction was filed by 80 people from Campeche who fear eviction from their homes. The First District Court in Campeche granted them the provisional suspension. Yucatán’s fourth district court also ordered a stop to construction.[45] The brought the total number of injunctions filed in the Yucatan Peninsula to 16 in March 2021,[46] increasing to at least 25 by January 2022. Most of the injunctions have been filed by indigenous collectives who consider the project to be an environmental disaster.[47] The injunctions have had little effect, and construction continues.[45] López Obrador has criticized the saliency in opposition to the train as a partisan attempt to halt his administration's infrastructure projects.[48][49]

A group of celebrities, including comedian Eugenio Derbez, singers Rubén Albarrán and Natalia Lafourcade, and actress Kate del Castillo, as part of the Sélvame del Tren ("Save me from the Train", a play on words between Sálvame meaning Save Me, and Selva meaning jungle) campaign, has expressed opposition to the train.[50]

In July 2022 residents of Chemax barricaded surrounding roads, bringing construction to a halt. They say the government has violated its agreement by clearing the jungle and failing to provide promised infrastucture.[51]

Environmental concernsEdit

As of January 2021 crews had uncovered more than 8000 ancient artifacts and structures during construction.[52]

The National Alliance for Conservation of the Jaguar has identified twelve wildlife corridors that could be constructed to mitigate the situation for the jaguars that live in the area.[53]

The Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental environmental group has accused Fonatur of deforestation along the route, not accounted for in the environmental impact assessment and without acquiring the necessary permits.[54] In November 2021 the Interior Department exempted Tren Maya and other infrastructure projects from environmental review.[55]

Original plans called for electric locomotives on the trains.[7][22] In June 2020 the government announced a switch to diesel to reduce costs,[56] then in August 2020 they announced that half the route, from Mérida to Chetumal via Cancún, would be electrified.[57]

In March 2022 Greenpeace organizers tied themselves to heavy machinery as a protest against construction in Quintana Roo that involves cutting down the jungle without environmental studies having been made.[50]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Pskowski, Martha (22 February 2019). "Mexico's 'Mayan Train' Is Bound for Controversy". CityLab. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  2. ^ Varillas, Adriana (23 November 2018). "Everything you need to know about the Mayan Train project". El Universal. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b Fuentes, Yngrid (15 November 2018). "Tren Maya: así es el ambicioso proyecto que propone AMLO y tiene un costo de miles de millones de dólares para México" (in Spanish). BBC Mundo. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Tren Maya unirá Tabasco, Campeche, Chiapas, Yucatán y Quintana Roo". Union Yucatán (in Spanish). 14 August 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Mexico launches $7.4bn Tren Maya railway project". BBC News. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b Sherman, Christopher (17 April 2019). "Mayan Train's fast track raising concerns in Mexico". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e Morgan, Martin (5 March 2019). "Mexico to 'speed up' Maya train route". BBC News. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  8. ^ Gobierno inicia proceso de consulta ciudadana e indígena para Tren Maya; se realizará el 15 diciembre Aristegui Noticias, Nov 15, 2019
  9. ^ "En la consulta sobre el Tren Maya, 92.3% votó por el "Sí"y 7.4% por el "No"" [In the consultation on the Mayan Train, 92.3% voted "Yes" and 7.4% "No"], El Economista (in Spanish), 16 December 2019
  10. ^ Arturo Rodriguez Garcia (16 December 2019), "A favor del Tren Maya el 92.3% de los consultados el fin de semana" [92.3% of those consulted about the Maya Train over the weekend in favor], Proceso (in Spanish)
  11. ^ Osvaldo Córdova (17 December 2019). "Solo votó el 2.86% del padrón por Tren Maya" [Only 2.86% of the registered voted for Maya Train]. Diario Contra Replica (in Spanish).
  12. ^ Alexis Ortiz (20 December 2019). "Rechaza ONU consulta sobre el Tren Maya" [UN rejects consultation on the Maya Train]. El Universal (in Spanish).
  13. ^ Tourliere, Matieu (23 December 2019). "El gobierno de AMLO reprocha críticas de la ONU-DH sobre consulta por Tren Maya" [The AMLO government reproaches UNHCR critics over consultation for Maya Train]. Proceso (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 24 December 2019.
  14. ^ "Progreso and Umán added to Mayan Train route". Yucatán Magazine. 20 June 2022.
  15. ^ Zavala, Misael (9 December 2018). "AMLO's Mayan Train will cost 150,000 million pesos". El Universal. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  16. ^ Veronica Garibay (26 October 2021). "Mayan Train expected to cost over 60 billion more: sources say two new museums are in the talks". Yucatan Magazine.
  17. ^ "El costo del Tren Maya, para arriba" (in Spanish). Diario de Yucatán. 5 October 2020.
  18. ^ "Turismo domina el PEF con presupuesto para Tren Maya; proyectan aumento de 641.7% en 2021". Excelsior. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  19. ^ "AMLO: Una empresa militar administrará y operará el Tren Maya". Diario de Yucatán (in Spanish). 20 December 2020.
  20. ^ "Todo el dinero generado por el Tren Maya irá al Ejército, afirma Jiménez Pons". Diario de Yucatán (in Spanish). 16 March 2021.
  21. ^ "¿Cuánto saldrá viajar en el Tren Maya? Checa los costos". El Financiero (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Tren Maya será turístico, de carga y de pasajeros: Arturo Núñez". Forbes (in Spanish). 15 October 2018. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  23. ^ "Seven tenders ready for the construction of the Maya Train". The Yucatan Times. 4 March 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Todo lo que sabemos hasta ahora sobre el Tren Maya". Diario de Yucatán (in Spanish). 13 January 2021.
  25. ^ Juan Manuel Contreras (1 February 2020). "Positivo que tramo del Tren Maya pase por debajo de Mérida: Concanaco" [Positive that the Mayan Train section passes under Mérida: Concanaco]. La Jornada (in Spanish).
  26. ^ Veronica Garibay (23 September 2021). "30% of La Plancha to be sold to the private sector". Yucatán Magazine.
  27. ^ Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (18 November 2021). "Mexico reverses on Mayan Train station, plans new La Plancha stop in 2025". Yucatan Magazine.
  28. ^ "Portuguese company to start building first Tren Maya stretch on April 30th". Yucatan News. 27 April 2020. Retrieved 10 December 2021.
  29. ^ "BlackRock, el gigante financiero acusado por corrupción y daño ambiental, es aliado en Tren Maya". (in Spanish). Sin Embargo. 4 September 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  30. ^ "Tramo 5 del Tren Maya, declarado desierto; rechazan propuesta de BlackRock". Forbes Mexico. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  31. ^ Urrutia, Alonso; Méndez, Enrique (8 September 2020). "AMLO: participará en el Tren Maya la financiera BlackRock". (in Spanish). La Jornada. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  32. ^ a b "Tren Maya Railway Project". Railway Technology.
  33. ^ "Shades of Line 12: Maya Train timelines not realistic, say private firms". Mexico News Daily. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2021. A market survey conducted by Fonatur, PricewaterhouseCoopers and other consultants in 2019 found that a majority of 21 construction companies believed that a period of at least 36 months was needed to build a 250-kilometer section of railroad – provided everything went smoothly. However, “companies with more experience in the construction of railroad tracks favor a period between 36 and 48 months,” the survey report said.
  34. ^ Kitroeff, Natalie; Abi-Habib, Maria; Glanz, James; Lopez, Oscar; Cai, Weiyi; Grothjan, Evan; Peyton, Miles; Cegarra, Alejandro (13 June 2021). "Why the Mexico City Metro Collapsed". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2021. bad welds, critical mistakes that likely caused the crash. That is one of the primary explanations being considered by Mexico City officials, according to several people familiar with the official investigations into the disaster, and it underscores a pattern of political expediency and haphazard work as the metro was being built.
  35. ^ Jessica Ruiz (19 January 2022). "Tren Maya ya no pasará por Playa del Carmen". Diario de Yucatán (in Spanish).
  36. ^ Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (23 June 2021). "Residents take action to clear La Plancha of garbage". Yucatán Magazine.
  37. ^ Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (18 March 2022). "Mexican celebrities join indigenous groups against the Mayan Train". Yucatán Magazine.
  38. ^ "El Tren Maya tiene una cuarta parte construida y casi 20% de gasto". Obras (in Spanish). 15 February 2022. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  39. ^ EZLN reitera rechazo a megaproyectos de AMLO El Segundero, Jan 1, 2020
  40. ^ "El CNI esboza su estrategia contra el Tren Maya" [The CNI lays out it strategy against the Maya Train]. Proceso (in Spanish). 4 January 2020.
  41. ^ Jose Raul Linares (1 February 2020). "Otorgan suspensión provisional contra el Tren Maya por "consulta simulada"" [Provisional injunction granted against the Mayan Train for "simulated consultation"]. La Jornada (in Spanish).
  42. ^ Rosa Santana (1 February 2020). "AMLO defiende el Tren Maya tras suspensión provisional ordenada por un tribunal" [AMLO defends the Mayan Train after provisional injunction ordered by a court]. La Jornada (in Spanish).
  43. ^ "Mayan communities of Campeche deliver 268 thousand signatures against the Mayan Train". Yucatan Times. 26 November 2020.
  44. ^ Tourliere, Mathieu (21 January 2021). "Habitantes de 3 municipios de Yucatán logran suspensión provisional de las obras del Tren Maya". (in Spanish). Proceso. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  45. ^ a b Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (15 October 2021). "In Europe, Mexican Indigenous organizations denounce the Mayan Train". Yucatan Magazine.
  46. ^ "Another injunction against the Tren Maya in Campeche". Yucatan Times. 4 March 2021.
  47. ^ Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (6 January 2022). "New legal challenges to Mayan Train ignored by AMLO's government". Yucatan Magazine.
  48. ^ "Les gusta el chisme: Gobierno federal responde con campaña a artistas y ambientalistas por Tren Maya". Animal Político (in Spanish). 31 March 2022. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  49. ^ "No tenemos notificación oficial sobre suspensión de construcción de tramo 5 de Tren Maya: AMLO". El Financiero (in Spanish). 19 April 2022. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  50. ^ a b "Mayan Train protestors tie themselves to bulldozers, delaying new jungle path". Yucatán Magazine. 29 March 2022.
  51. ^ Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (7 July 2022). "Chemax protestors barricade Mayan Train construction site". Yucatán Magazine.
  52. ^ Carlos Rosado van der Gracht (21 January 2021). "Tren Maya leads to amazing discovery of over 8000 archaeological remains in Yucatán". Yucatán Magazine.
  53. ^ "Más de 2 mil jaguares en peligro por el Tren Maya". El Universal (in Spanish). 7 January 2019. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  54. ^ "Fonatur accused of logging more than 144 hectares of forest land for the Tren Maya". Yucatan Times. 21 October 2021.
  55. ^ "Mexico decrees automatic approval for Mayan Train project". Yucatán Magazine. 23 November 2021.
  56. ^ "Maya Train chooses diesel over electric but source of fuel in doubt". 9 June 2020.
  57. ^ "Maya Train to run on electricity on one-half of its route". 6 August 2020.