Photo: Tren Maya

By KELIN DILLON

According to reports from operators working on the construction of Mexico’s controversial public megaproject the Tren Maya – documents which were leaked to the public by hacktivist group Guacamaya – the project is facing multiple supply and permitting delays that could push the Tren Maya’s completion far beyond its estimated December 2023 delivery date.

These issues join the Tren Maya’s mounting list of setbacks, which includes mass resignations from its workers, continued budget increases, and contention with local communities near the project site, just to name a few.

The project’s problems don’t seem to be derailing the high cost of the Tren Maya, as the leaked documents reveal that Section 4 of the train, which spans from Izamal to Cancun, has increased from 30 billion pesos in allocated cost to 53 billion pesos, while Section 5 nearly doubled in cost from 17 billion pesos to 30.5 billion pesos.

The massive cost hikes of the Tren Maya have only been exacerbated by the fact that many contracted supplies have yet to arrive at the project, with Section 1 only receiving 11 percent of the 517,000 cubic square meters of ballast and gravel initially ordered, and just 30 percent of the 457,000 pieces of its contracted wooden railway sleepers.

These missing supplies were meant to be delivered by Mota Engil and a Chinese company, who were awarded a 15.53 billion peso contract for the job in April 2020, nearly two and a half years ago.

Despite all of its delays, Section 1 of the Tren Maya is the only part of the project that actually has completed designs of some of its stations and stops, revealed the leaked reports. Section 1’s Escárcega station stands at 11 percent completion, while its Palenque station – the very start of the Tren Maya’s entire route – is only .6 percent complete.

Section 2 is reportedly 50.5 percent complete, though only .2 percent complete with its complementary construction of sleepers, rails, and ballasts.

Parts of Section 5 allegedly require construction over territory not yet expropriated by the government and therefore can not be legally built upon yet, while Sections 6 and 7 purportedly have barely begun the forest sampling and geological processing necessary to start construction. 

The project’s train cars are also not expected to arrive until September 2023, just three months before the Tren Maya’s planned launch to the public, while 32 of the route’s subsections still have yet to receive the proper permitting to build.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) has likewise been tasked with creating 24 vehicle and pedestrian crosswalks at the behest of local communities, who’ve been aggrieved by the project’s construction more than once.

“The level of water accumulated in the area has exceeded the levels of the embankment in the process of construction, overflowing the existing metal bridge, and flooding the adjoining properties, causing the owners to complain,” read a leaked Fonatur report dated August 17.

With all this in mind, the government’s hopes for a December 2023 inauguration date for the Tren Maya seem increasingly unrealistic with every passing day.

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