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Maya Train – Everything Travelers Need To Know

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The Maya Train, or Tren Maya in Spanish, is a tourist train that will connect popular sites across the Yucatán Peninsula, encompassing the states of Quintana Roo, Chiapas, Yucatán, and Campeche. Construction of the project began in 2018 and is estimated to open as early as within the next two years, attracting 8,000 daily riders.

Once completed, the high-speed train system will link the famous beaches of the Riviera Maya to Mayan ruins sites, culturally-rich towns, and various tourist destinations in the Yucatán Peninsula and beyond.

happy woman on train

About the Maya Train Project

The extensive railway project was first announced in 2018 with the premise of providing a widespread network of transportation across the Yucatán Peninsula to connect sightseers to popular destinations. 

The vision of the completed project is to develop a railroad stretching 1500 kilometers with 17 stops along the way, facilitating ease of transportation and accessibility for tourists in southeastern Mexico.

Maya Train route
Map of Maya Train Railroad Network

Maya Train Routes

The train will operate three different proposed routes: Caribbean, Gulf and Jungle. 

The Caribbean route will connect Cancun to the southern end of Quintana Roo, with stops along Puerto Morelos, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, and Bacalar. 

The Gulf route will connect Cancun to Merida, visiting the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza before heading south toward Campeche.

The Jungle route will connect the southern portion of Quintana Roo to Southern Campeche state, making a stop at the renowned Calakmul Mayan ruins site.

tourist at Calakmul Mayan ruins site

Project Budget and Timeline 

The project carried an estimated cost of about USD 7.4 billion, with a timeline of four years to build. Though, since the project has been in progress, the funding has significantly exceeded the estimated budget.

The project has received widespread support for its ability to provide a stimulus to local economies, as well as create tourism infrastructure in the country. The project was estimated to create 80 thousand jobs in 2020, with and an additional 150 thousand jobs this year. 

Meanwhile, some critics of the project have expressed environmental concerns which the project may create.

Yucatan Peninsula railway

Maya Train Construction Between Izamal and Cancun has Begun

The Maya Train has reached section four of the development, in which the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas will be covered in the state’s north. 

This section will run roughly 257 kilometers of track between Cancun and Izamal. Developers have planned to build three stations along the route, though government officials have indicated that stops and stations may be altered due to operational considerations.

For the time being, the train stations currently proposed in the plan will be situated in Chichen Itzá, Yucatan, Valladolid, Yucatan, and New Xcán, Quintana Roo.

tourist at Caribbean Sea Quintana Roo

The announcement of the project launch of section four was announced Friday by the Government of Quintana Roo, with work reportedly already underway in the community of El Ideal in the municipality of Lázaro Cárdenas.

While section four of the project is now underway, the final phase, section five, will see roughly 121 kilometers of track between Cancun and Tulum. 

Developers would like to complete the project with stations in Cancun Downtown, Cancun Airport, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum with stops at Xcaret, Puerto Aventuras, and Akumal.

Kukulkan pyramid in Chichen Itza

Sites Along The Maya Train Route

The most popular trips on the Maya Train will likely be to Chichén Itzá, the largest archaeological site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula. Drawing thousands of visitors each day, Chichén Itzá is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Mexico. Day-trips to the ancient site are especially common amongst tourists in Cancun. Considering transportation by bus is six hours there and back, the Maya Train is likely to be a compelling alternative for tourists. 

Another high in demand route will be the Caribbean, as tourists will be able to vertically navigate the Riviera Maya via train. The direction would also attract tourists to popular beaches located south of Tulum. Bacalar, for instance, is popular amongst tourists, but a four-hour car ride from Cancun. Adjoined by the train route, travel time will significantly decrease, making it more easily and comfortably accessible to tourists.  

tourist ancient Mayan ruins site

While Merida, Palenque, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum particularly favorable among visitors, the Mexican government has incorporated what it calls ‘Pueblos Mágicos‘ (Magical Towns) within the route, in hopes that tourists will recognize the beauty and history in the less popular locations of the region. 

Izamal, Yucatán

Along the Maya Train route, tourists will come across the charming colonial city of Izamal in the state of Yucatán, about 70 km east of Merida. Known for its bright architecture, the Pueblo Magico is decorated with yellow painted buildings, giving it the title ‘The Yellow City‘. Enriched with natural splendor and historical significance, tourists will find a picturesque location filled with trees and nature, pre-Columbian pyramids, churches, and museums.

Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico
Izamal, Yucatán, Mexico

Campeche City, Campeche

Campeche City is another hidden gem along the Maya Train route. This second Pueblo Mágico holds colorful colonial-style buildings and is home to the Maya Museum, while a botanical garden trails the boardwalk along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. 

Full List Of Train Stops

Quintana Roo: Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Bacalar

Campeche: Escárcega, Campeche, Xpujil, Calakmul

Yucatán: Maxcanú, Merida, Izamal, Chichén Itzá, Valladolid

Chiapas: Palenque 

Tabasco: Tenosique

happy couple on train

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