The construction of the Maya Train in Cancun can finally go ahead after facing months of legal setbacks over environmental concerns. The Maya Train is Mexico’s flagship infrastructure project, a massive undertaking to build over 1500 kilometers of railway tracks through six states, including Quintana Roo. Set for completion by the end of next year, the new train will mainly benefit visitors, who can move between tourist destinations faster than ever before.
The construction of the new railway has been held up since August, pending lawsuits by environmental groups. The legal setbacks have been especially problematic for the northern half of section 5 of the Maya Train, stretching from Cancun to Playa del Carmen – two of the most popular resort destinations in the state.
However, this week, after months of delays, a state judge revoked a previous court decision to halt construction work. In practice, this means the federal government can go ahead with the Cancun segment of the Maya Train, bringing the project one step closer to completion.
The new infrastructure project has raised concern among environmental groups over the railway’s potential impact on local flora and fauna. The Mexican Caribbean is home to a range of native species and abounds with dense rainforests that the railway would cut across. Another concern has been the adequate protection of ancient Mayan artifacts recovered along the railway’s construction site.
Despite facing 6 lawsuits by civil society groups, in his recent ruling, state judge Adrián Fernando Novelo Pérez considered that authorities had gathered sufficient evidence over the Maya Train’s environmental impact. The ruling lays to rest concerns over the train’s future and argues that environmental groups weren’t able to prove that the railway project would cause irreparable damage to natural areas along the Cancun – Playa del Carmen route.
Despite garnering worldwide attention over environmental concerns, the government assures the new Maya Train will be ecologically viable. It has taken several steps, such as creating new protected natural areas, and has also planted millions of trees along the route. Even so, the construction of the project involves drilling through cenotes and rainforests, potentially causing pollution, water contamination, and disturbance to protected species.
Authorities are also working to preserve the multitude of ancient Mayan artifacts and ruins that are routinely discovered during the railway system’s construction phase. Millions of dollars are being invested in a new museum in Mérida to house some of the more exemplary pieces, with more archeological restoration sites to be opened later next year.
Even though work can now resume on the northern part of section 5, construction is halted on the southern segment from Playa del Carmen to Tulum due to legal obstacles. The project is expected to move ahead once a ruling has been issued for that part sometime in the near future.
Set for completion in December 2023, the Maya Train will revolutionize public transport for visitors in the Mexican Caribbean. The 1,525-kilometre-long intercity railway will connect tourist hotspots across the region, from Cancun’s beaches to Tulum’s archaeological wonders. The train will also make it easier than ever before to access some of Quintana Roo’s top national parks, as well as smaller remote towns. Overall, the route will feature some 190 tourist attractions along 20 stops.
Visitors headed to the Mexican Caribbean currently have limited options when it comes to public transport, with taxis, shuttle services, and buses being the main modes of transport. The Maya Train will significantly amplify mobility across the region, helping to alleviate congested roads and traffic build-up.
Each train station along the 1500-kilometer route is designed to reflect the area’s natural, historical, and cultural surroundings. Once complete, the state-of-the-art transit system will provide a major boost to tourism in the area, helping consolidate the Mexican Caribbean’s role as a leading vacation destination.
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