PUEBLA, Mexico — Mexico’s 19th-century leaders spent lavishly to bring the railroad to their young republic, eager to show the world they were building a modern, technologically advanced nation.
More than 100 years and a few upheavals later, with Mexico’s economy barreling forward but its pride in need of a boost, new President Enrique Pena Nieto has outlined a grand vision to showcase the country’s renewed prosperity and engineering might.
He’ll make the trains run again.
Pena Nieto surprised many at his Dec. 1 inauguration when he announced a multibillion-dollar plan to restore passenger rail service in Mexico, nearly 15 years after his own Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) finished dismantling it.
His proposals start with the completion of a rail line across the Yucatan Peninsula linking the colonial city of Merida to the beach resorts of the Mayan Riviera. As soon as next year, cruise ship passengers and sunburned college kids may be swilling cold beers in air-conditioned cars while the scenery zips by at 110 mph, stopping at archaeological sites and jungle lodges.
Far more ambitious will be a $4.5 billion high-speed line between Mexico City and Queretaro, the booming manufacturing and aerospace hub 120 miles northwest of the capital. Long-term plans would extend the route to Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara, eventually filling sleek rail cars with business executives, tourists and families freed up from the country’s clogged highways.
Read more of this story Monday in the Arizona Daily Star.