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Judge orders stop to Maya Train construction between Playa del Carmen and Tulum

Riviera Maya, Q.R. — A federal court in Merida has ordered a stop on construction of section 5 south of the Maya Train. The order was made Thursday after several local environmental groups revealed cenote and underground water damage caused by the driving of pillars.

The First Collegiate Court on Administrative and Labor Matters of the Fourteenth Circuit has ordered the government to present the geological, geophysical and geohydrological studies of that section.

The suspended section in question, section 5 south which runs from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, has been acknowledged by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as being one of the most challenging.

Pile driving on section 5 south is penetrating underground water-filled cenotes and ancient Mayan caves.

In an October 2023 morning press conference, López Obrador said “the fact is it has been more complex than we imagined because we are building so as not to affect underwater rivers, cenotes.

Judge orders stop to Maya Train construction between Playa del Carmen and Tulum
Damage to the Aktun T’uyul underground system. Photo: Guillerno Dchristy February 5, 2024.

“The train is being built above, more than 80 kilometers of double-track viaducts, so yes, it is a very complicated project,” he said regarding section 5.

Earlier this month, several groups of environmentalists recorded the damage being done to install support pillars along section 5 south. More than a dozen large holes have been drilled deep into the ground, some of which penetrated caves damaging stalactites, while others have been found leaking in water-filled cenotes.

According to Guillermo DChristy, at least 18 holes have been drilled that are damaging local cenotes, caves and underground water supplies. Photo: February 5, 2024.

Videos and photos uploaded by Sélvame del Tren Association, SOS Cenotes and Guillermo DChristy show rusting exteriors and leaking cement that are believed likely contaminating the region’s water supply.

One of their videos shows rusty casings already breaking away from the pillars exposing the concrete and rebar. Photo: February 5, 2024.

The government will now have to submit a series of reports on environmental area impacts to continue with the construction of section 5 south.

“The definitive suspension is granted for the purpose of paralyzing the works of the Maya Train in Section 5 South, until it is accredited before the First District Court in Yucatán, that the geological, geophysical and geohydrological studies that conditions 9 and 10 of the environmental authorization refer to, have been carried out making its results known.

“In addition, there must be a prior statement from the environmental authority regarding these results and their impact on the execution of the project,” the Yucatan court document read.

On Friday morning, López Obrador launched a “whats news” event showing the front page of the newspaper Reforma, who first reported on the Tren Maya suspension. Company Tren Maya has not made a public statement regarding the recent judicial ruling handed down by a Merida, Yucatan court.

Tren Maya section 5 north, which runs Cancun-Puerto Morelos-Playa del Carmen, is scheduled for inauguration on February 29, 2024.