Photo: Xinhua

By KELIN DILLON

Following the deadly crash of Mexico City Line 12 metro cars late Monday, May 3, which left 24 dead and a further 79 people injured, a magnifying glass has been brought close to the history of the metro line in an effort to figure out just how such a fatal tragedy could happen.

The incident, which occurred after a passing train caused a bridge between the line’s Olivo and Tezonco stations to collapse beneath it, was the deadliest scenario the Mexican metro has faced in decades. 

The line was created under former Mexico City Mayor and current Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard in 2012 during his tenure as head of the capital, with the goal of uniting the eastern area of the metropolitan area with the southwest. 

The project, which was originally planned to be completely underground, but was shifted to partially above-ground after controversial modifications and after its completion, was discovered to have many faulty construction choices, including bad quality materials and the wrong choice of wheels for the metro cars, which would eventually wear down the tracks.

Following the end of Ebrard’s term as mayor, it was also discovered that the project, which was initially estimated to cost the country 17 billion pesos, ended up costing 47 billion pesos, causing outrage over alleged corruption in the line’s financing, which was overseen by Ebrard’s Secretary of Finance, Mario Delgado, who now serves as president of the in-power National Regeneration Movement (Morena) to which Ebrard and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) belong.

The fallout from the corruption controversy was so extreme that Ebrard briefly left Mexico to serve a self-imposed exile in France to escape the scandal.

Less than a year after Line 12, nicknamed “The Golden Line,” was completed, it was partially shut down due to effects from its poor construction, with the closure lasting for over 20 months, invoking 86 inquiries into the issue and 12 criminal charges against various politicians involved, although Ebrard and Delgado escaped unscathed. 

The disastrous September 2017 earthquake reportedly left noticeable cracks on Line 12’s overpass, leaving many locals vocally afraid about the structural damage of the bridge and its likelihood of collapsing, though the cracks were eventually repaired cosmetically, with the depth of restoration to the overpass’ infrastructure left largely unknown, potentially contributing to Monday’s horrific event.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum reported there would be a full investigation to find who was responsible for the crash, including consulting international firms to get the bottom of the issue, saying “we have to get to the truth of this situation.”

“The Attorney General’s Office must carry out an expert opinion, which began just last night, but we are also looking for an international company with a certificate in metro as structural matters to make an external expert opinion,” said Sheinbaum during a conference at the National Palace addressing the crash on Tuesday, May 4.

“Speculating exactly what happened does not help anyone and that is precisely why we are seeking the expert opinion of the Attorney General’s Office and an external one.”

For his part, López Obrador extended public condolences to the families of the victims and echoed Sheinbaum’s sentiments that a full investigation would be carried out, though failed to acknowledge the deep involvement of members from his own Morena government.

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