Mexico City, Mexico — President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that he is preparing a decree with the objective of allocating around 20,000 kilometers of railway tracks to passenger service.
He says those 20,000 kilometers of track are currently used by freight trains.
“If the Mexican State, for the benefit of the people, considers it necessary to restore passenger train service it can do so at any time. (…) It is in the Constitution and in the law.
“It is nothing more than making use of the right that we have to use all that infrastructure for the benefit of the people of Mexico, so I am going to announce the decree before November 20, ” he announced Wednesday.
During his morning press conference, he reported that the Government of Mexico will preferably call current railway concessionaires to join this effort to return passenger service based on the presentation of formal projects.
“We are going to first give preference to those who already have freight train concessions so that in a reasonable time, they present us a project and convert those tracks that are used for freight trains, of course, through their repair, modernization, electrification, because it will help us a lot to confront the problem of pollution,” he explained.
If not participating in this initiative, he said, the Mexican State will directly initiate a program aimed at the acquisition and administration of passenger trains, using the same tracks with the aim of returning train service to Mexico.
According to information from the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation and the Rail Transportation Regulatory Agency, the main assignee and concessionaire companies in the country are Kansas City Southern de México, Ferromex, Ferrosur and Ferrovalle.
The president estimated that the concessionaire companies will have until January 2024 to demonstrate interest and commitment. Passenger trains, he said, legally have priority scheduling.
Passenger trains represent a comfortable and low-cost alternative, which is why the federation recovers railway engineering that was forgotten for decades. This 2023 marks 150 years since the inauguration of the first passenger train from Mexico to Veracruz, he recalled.
“It is a historic year and these irresponsible, corrupt technocrats put an end to passenger trains in the blink of an eye, so we want it to be possible to travel from Cancun to Mexico City by train, from Mexico City to Guadalajara, to Nayarit, to Sinaloa, Sonora to the border, from Mexico City to Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Monterrey to Nuevo Laredo, from Mexico City to Chihuahua by train,” he said.