Officials have revealed that Mexico’s National Gaurd will be deployed to protect millions of travelers once the new Maya Train officially begins operations next December. The massive 1500-kilometer-long railway project will connect some of the top destinations in the Mexican Caribbean along a single route, significantly boosting mobility and making new destinations available for travelers.
In a recent press conference, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president of Mexico, announced that the country’s National Guard would oversee and protect the new Maya Train. The National Guard is the country’s largest paramilitary force, created in 2019 to deter organized crime and protect tourists.
According to leading security officials, Mexico’s national guard will patrol not only trains but also train stations as well as other critical infrastructure. Authorities also added that armed forces would use helicopters to monitor vast areas of rainforest where the Maya Train is being built.
The Maya train is expected to be complete by December 2023, after which both visitors and locals alike will be able to benefit from the massive new infrastructure project. The Maya This is the national government’s flagship infrastructure undertaking, costing the government some $20 billion.
Once complete, the Maya Train will carry tens of thousands of tourists per day between several Mexican Caribbean destinations and will have stations in places like Cancun airport, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen. Travelers will be able to access several new sites thanks to the train, including Ichkabal, a thus far rather remote and unexplored Mayan ruin.
With so many valuable sites along the train’s route, authorities are keen on improving safety measures. Whilst the Mexican Caribbean is safe for travelers – the region is currently under a Level 2 Travel Advisor as per the U.S. Department of State – organized crime remains a pressing issue. Officials have enhanced public safety this year by sending more law enforcement personnel to guard important sites such as Chichen Itzá.
The Maya Train has garnered significant media attention in Mexico and abroad, where it is largely seen as a highly controversial project. Although politicians have pointed out that the new train will boost tourism and improve connectivity, environmental groups have voiced concern over the project’s impact on the Mexican Caribbean’s delicate ecosystem.
López Obrador also announced that officials will begin technical testing of the train in July 2023, several months before the official launching of the train in December. Authorities have already begun procuring the new trains, which are being produced in Hidalgo. The Maya Train will use state-of-the-art technology to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency.
“The testing period will begin in July in Mérida, Cancun, Tulum, and Chetumal if everything goes according to plan. We are going to be highly prepared for the launching of the Maya Train in December,” the country’s president said in his weekly press conference.
The next several months will be critical for the infrastructure project, as construction workers rush to complete the Maya Train on time. With stiff opposition from environmental groups – and legal challenges from state courts – it remains unclear whether the Maya Train will be finished on time.
The Mexican Caribbean is expected to be one of the most popular international destinations in 2023, and the region is desperately in need of better public transport options. Although bus lines operate between the area’s largest cities, Cancun and other resort hotspots are struggling to cope with record numbers of travelers, leading to traffic chaos and flight delays. Once complete, the Maya Train is largely expected to lower traffic levels and improve the quality of life for millions of travelers and locals.
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