MEXICO.- Mexico's government has announced a high-speed rail project in the Yucatan Peninsula aimed at unlocking that region's full economic, tourist and social potential.
President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday presented the Merida-Punta Venado Trans-Peninsular Train project, to be built under a concession or public-private partnership contract.
The project - the first in the infrastructure area since Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1 - is scheduled to be auctioned off between September and October 2013.
It will use existing tracks that must be modernized and expanded, the president said in Merida, capital of Yucatan state.
"This project not only will enable the transportation of passengers, who will be able to travel quickly and safely, but will also be a means of cargo transport that facilitates trade and the shipping of merchandise from Yucatan to the state of Quintana Roo," he added.
Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said during the ceremony that the route will run from Merida to Punta Venado - port of arrival for cruise-ship visitors from the island of Cozumel - in the state of Quintana Roo.
According to the project plans, a modern, diesel-powered train traveling at speeds of between 160-180 kilometers (100-110 miles) per hour will be used to cover the route.
The high-speed line will connect tourists to the region's most significant Maya sites and travel times will be coordinated with the arrival of cruise ships, Ruiz said.