The talks have been on and off for years. First it was a trans-peninsula railway, then it was the Tulum airport. Now, it seems that the plans for improved public transport within Quintana Roo and across the Yucatan peninsula are back to train lines. Specifically a Riviera Maya Train Line.
In 2015, debates were being had on whether we would see a new railway system within the Yucatan peninsula. At that point, the proposed plans had been discussed for a couple of years already. The plans seemed to centre around a train line that would connect popular towns and cities such as Merida, Valladolid, Punta Venado and perhaps even Cancun. However, clearly the plans never came to fruition and Yucatan and Quintana Roo still suffer from sub-par public transportation links.
Riviera Maya Train Line
Recently the local government for the state of Quintana Roo received proposals for a new Riviera Maya train line. These new plans focus on the southern half of the state, as opposed to a trans-peninsula trajectory. It has been confirmed by Jorge Portilla Manica, Head of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Finance, that the motivation for such a project comes from wanting to ease congestion in popular tourist destinations and large towns and cities. In particular, the highway that stretches from Cancun to Tulum would greatly benefit from alleviated congestion. Currently Highway 307 sees approximately 100,000 units of traffic daily.
Furthermore, the Riviera Maya train line would extend from Cancun all the way to Chetumal. Essentially connecting the north of the state of Quintana Roo with the south. Such a system would ease traffic and make the Riviera Maya more accessible. Currently Locals and tourists alike rely on buses and taxis to make the fairly long journeys from Cancun to other popular destinations such as Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. A project such as this would greatly reduce the time it takes to travel around the state, as well as improving travelling conditions.
Trans-peninsular Train Line
As well as the newly proposed plans, the plans for a trans-peninsular train line have also been reconsidered. The discussed plans involved an initial railway of 277km that stretches from Merida to Vallalodid. A secondary stage would then see the line extended. This will include stations at Coba and Punta Venado. Essentially the Riviera Maya will be connected to the rest of the Yucatan peninsula. As a whole, the plans propose two train systems that would include a Merida-Punta Venado route and a Punta Venado-Cancun route.
Portilla Manica has commented that entrepreneurs have expressed interest to the government in investing in this project. While the proposed plans have been well received by all parties involved, the main obstacle facing the Riviera Maya train line is financing. The cost is estimated at more than 30 billion pesos, so the government and the interested parties are aware of the obstacles. However the outlook seems positive. All concerned are looking to tackle the financial obstacle by analysing the project and potential solutions that will enable the train line to go ahead.
The local governments of towns such as Playa Del Carmen have shown a commitment to improving accessibility and transport. Recently, Playa Del Carmen has seen an improvement in accessibility and public transport for the disabled. New sidewalk ramps have been put in place and wheelchair friendly buses have been put into circulation. Hopefully, this same commitment will be shown to improving cross-state and inter-state transportation.