Mexico’s Maya Train Overtakes Dos Bocas Refinery as AMLO’s Costliest Project

The budget for the tourist train that circumnavigates the Yucatán peninsula has more than tripled the original $7.5-billion price tag, while the new oil refinery in Tabasco came in at a cost of $16 billion

A stretch of the railroad between Cancún and Kantunil under construction near Valladolid in Yucatán state.
September 12, 2023 | 05:50 PM

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Mexico City — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) flagship works have significantly exceeded their original budget and cost increases have become a constant in the construction of the Maya Train, which has exceeded the cost of the Dos Bocas refinery, according to the most recent estimates released by the Mexican government and their approved budgets.

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The train that will run through southeastern Mexico will cost $28.5 billion, revealed Finance Minister Rogelio Ramírez in an interview with Radio Fórmula on September 11.

In August 2022, Pemex’s board of directors approved a budget of approximately $16 billion for the construction of the state-owned company’s seventh refinery, located in Tabasco state.

Dos Bocas was to initially cost $8 billion, but the amount was doubled to build an electric power plant, a gas pipeline, aqueduct and surrounding roads. The private companies that were invited by the government to take charge of the construction abandoned the bidding due to the tight budget and delivery times.

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The Maya Train was planned with an original cost of $7.5 billion, but year after year it has faced delays due to changes in the design, departures of construction companies such as Grupo México from the project, and legal challenges from environmental groups and political opponents such as entreprensur Claudio X. González Guajardo and former minister José Ramón Cossío.

The train is slated to begin operations in December of this year.

The person in charge of Mexico’s public finances commented that the Maya Train still requires complementary works such as the construction of warehouses, train repair workshops and a hotel, but which are not conditions for its inauguration, although necessary for its subsequent operation.


“Any government that follows is going to have the impact of having to manage it, but we are making all the provisions for it to have its own income, maintenance”, said Ramírez, and emphasized that the Maya Train will be very productive in terms of generating revenues on the stretch from Cancún to Tulum.

The Maya Train was planned as a way of boosting the economic development of the southeast of Mexico, one of the poorest regions of the country. However, this did not stop the litany of complaints, mainly focused on alleged environmental damage such as deforestation, the destruction of cenotes and damage to the local fauna living in the jungles of the Yucatán Peninsula.

in 2018, as president-elect, AMLO told the media that it would be prohibited by law to increase the cost of public works by a significantly higher percentage, but with cost increases coming in across both projects.

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