Now that airfares are getting increasingly expensive, the era of train travel is officially back, and countries that up until now had invested primarily in road infrastructure, or their aviation sectors, are turning their gaze to the railway. One of the world's top tourist destinations, Mexico is among them, planning to have 11 train routes in place until 2050, with the first one launching as early as 2023.
Mexico's rail History is a complex one, dating back as early as the 19th century, when plans for commuter trains between Mexico City and Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, were laid out. Although the country did go on to establish a (rather limited) rail system ever since, this has been mostly used for the transportation of goods, not commuters.
Now, things look set to change, as the North American giant seeks to modernize, and improve intercity connectivity:
Mexico's First Scenic Train Is Launching Next Year
Years in the making, Mexico's Tren Maya has been marred by controversy from the get go. Facing countless setbacks, either due to environmental concerns or construction delays, the scenic train debuting next year is set to run along the entire Yucatan Peninsula, connecting all of Mexico's most sought-after vacation spots.
The news were confirmed by the Mexican Government, amid fears construction would be placed on hold indefinitely following a judge's decision to suspend further line enlargements earlier this year (until more thorough ecological assessments were carried out).
Judging by other recent developments, it is safe to say these curbs have since been dropped and the long-awaited train is indeed opening in 2023 as planned. The Mayan Train will be Mexico's first official long-distance passenger rail, running for 1800 km on a loop around the Yucatan Peninsula.
More specifically, the train starts its course in Palenque, Chiapas, before travelling northeast towards Cancun, in Quintana Roo, via two routes. Besides improving connectivity between the region's tourist zones, it aims to ease access to a number of historical Mayan sites that, previously, could only be reached by road.
The Country Is Planning To Deliver 11 Scenic Trains By 2050
Interestingly, the Mayan Train is not the only major project Mexico's top officials are tasked with delivering. In February, Miguel Torruco Garza, a Member of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies, confirmed the country will have an extensive rail network comprising the majority of the national territory. That is to say, the Mayan Train is only the beginning.
In total, Mexico will have 11 scenic train routes until 2050, spearheaded by the Mayan Train in 2023. According to Garza, the long-term plan will culminate in the return of passenger trains to Mexico, nearly two centuries after the original Mexico City-Veracruz route was outlined. At present, the vast majority of Mexico's railway system is freight train-exclusive.
Once they open, Mexico's 10 other scenic routes will be the following:
- Pacific Train – 4700 km
- El Chepe – 673 km
- Western Train – 2250 km
- Eastern Train – 2000 km
- Transversal Train – 1200 km
- Gulf Train – 650 km
- Bajio Train – 500 km
- Central Train – 1300 km
- Itsmo Train – 300 km
- Oaxaca Train – 750 km
- Mayan Train – 1800 km
*The routes are displayed with different colors on the map
The Return Of Trains Will Mark A New Era For Tourism In Mexico
Needless to say, this would dramatically improve the tourist experience in Mexico. Currently, visitors remain heavily dependent on flights or excessively long bus journeys to commute in between cities, making multi-destination, or even multi-state vacations incredibly challenging.
Either due to climate change, or simply reluctance to fly now that airlines are proving unreliable, more and more customers are opting for trains where they are available.
In late July, Amtrak added a brand new train route from New York City amid a soaring demand, besides relaunching service to Canada for the first time in more than two years, in what's a glorious comeback for North American trains.
Over in Europe, where this transportation mode has always been popular, new cross-border deals have made it even more attractive to travelers who may be thinking twice about booking flight tickets this year.
Mexico may be a little late in the game compared to its American counterparts or other sunny competitors in Europe, but it is surely catching up quickly – and definitely coming out ahead of most Latin American countries, where railway infrastructure is still pretty much non-existent.
While this all sounds promising, it remains to be seen whether Mexico's leaders will remain truly committed to this, seeing that priorities change as new governments assume power, as they surely will in the decades to come, and taking into account the Mayan Train's own documented delays.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
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