A few weeks ago, I shared some news with you about the projected plans for the Yucatan Peninsula Train. Now a month later, Mexico's president-elect, Andres Manuel López Obrador, has more plans to add to the upcoming project.
This will greatly stimulate tourism and will create jobs in the southeast, which is the most neglected region of the country,
The new plans will add tracks to the northwestern part of the Yucatan with stops in the cities of Valladolid, then to Merida, a city known for its picturesque colonial buildings, then on to Campeche. The famed ruins of Chichen Itza, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mexico, are close to the city of Valladolid.
Along with these additions, comes the need to expand the budget. The
costs of the Mayan train are now being projected to fall somewhere
between $6 billion and $8 billion. Lopez Obrador said the train would
be financed over six years using public and private investments. Part
of the funding will come in the form of tourism taxes that currently
net around $370 million a year.
The original plans included tracks covering a distance of 560 miles (900 kilometers). With new stops being added, the tracks will now cover 930 miles (1,500 kilometers). The construction of the train will take about 4 years to complete.
“This will greatly stimulate tourism and will create jobs in the southeast,
which is the most neglected region of the country,” Lopez Obrador said.
Resorts in Cancun have been in abundance since the 1990s. Many of the hotel
workers still live in Cancun, so a large number of tourism workers could
benefit from this train to get to their jobs, in a much more timely fashion.
Although many of the locals and supporters of Lopez Obrador are excited by the plans, others are a bit more skeptical. In particular, they're unsure how many travelers will utilize the train route from Tulum to Bacalar, and the route that goes farther southwest to Calakmul and Palenque.
Not a lot of tourist infrastructure from Tulum to Bacalar, a fresh-water lagoon, has been developed. And from there heading west is practically undeveloped. The biggest concern about this route “is the profitability of the project, based on tourism flows,” said Francisco Madrid Flores, director of the Tourism and Gastronomy Department at Mexico's Anahuac University. “In southern Campeche, where Calakmul is, there are practically no hotel rooms.”
Although tourism on this route doesn’t attract the numbers that Cancun draws in annually, several of the Mayan communities there are already offering activities such as; hiking, kayaking, bird watching, cave tours, and craft workshops.
The president-elect is forward thinking. He may foresee the undeveloped areas along the Yucatan southwest, stretching to Calakmul and Palenque as potential tourists ‘hot-spots’ in the future. For now, adventurous travelers can look forward to exploring more of Mexico’s beauty using convenient and reliable transportation.