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Train travel planned for the Maya World

Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently announced a number of national development projects, including the Maya Train or Tren Maya, a railway that would link parts of southeast Mexico and enable tourists to discover some of the most important archaeological sites and nature reserves in the Maya World.

The proposed route through the Maya World includes Cancun to Tulum and continues south to Bacalar before turning west to Xpujil, the stopping off point for Calakmul, Becan, Chicanna and other archaeological sites in southern Campeche. It would then continue west to Palenque in Chiapas and complete the circuit passing through Tabasco and Campeche to the colonial cities of Merida and Valladolid, Yucatan. In the Yucatan it would follow a pre-existing rail route from Palenque to Valladolid.

A Tren Maya project linking Merida with Cancun and Playa del Carmen had been discussed by the previous administration but this new proposal is much larger and has a different route. It would spread the economic benefits of tourism beyond the Mexican Caribbean and the Yucatan by connecting Maya World communities that have been off the beaten track to all but a few visitors.

The railway would carry passengers and cargo and the definitive route, environmental and social impact, investment partners and financing are still under discussion. If it goes ahead, the project could get underway in 2019 and would take about four years to complete.

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