World Economy

Chinese Group to Build LatAm’s 1st Bullet Train

Chinese Group to Build LatAm’s 1st Bullet TrainChinese Group to Build LatAm’s 1st Bullet Train

Mexico’s government – keen to forge closer ties to Beijing – picked a Chinese-led consortium Monday to build the first bullet train in Latin America after the group was the only bidder.

The transport ministry said it had accepted the $3.75 billion proposal by China Railway Construction Corp. for the 210-kilometer (130-mile) railway between the capital Mexico City and the central Mexico manufacturing hub of Queretaro, AFP reported.

The project is part of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s decision to bring back passenger trains to Latin America’s second-biggest economy.

The government expects construction to start in December and operations to begin in 2017, which would bring the first high-speed railway to Latin America.

While Mexico has freight railways, the country now only boasts some tourist trains after regular passenger lines disappeared following the sector’s  privatization in the 1990s.

Mexican and Central American migrants have illegally hitched rides on top of a cargo train dubbed La Bestia (The Beast) to head north to the United States, a risky trip that has killed or maimed many passengers.

“In a country with 120 million inhabitants, where the main urban centers are large metropolises, passenger transport must be of massive scale,” Transport Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza told a news conference.

“Mexico’s infrastructure must quickly get up-to-date to meet the present and future needs of the country and its regions.”

The project aims to carry 23,000 passengers per day at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, reducing the commute between Mexico City and Queretaro from two-and-a-half hours to 58 minutes, officials say.

The Chinese-led consortium, which includes Mexican firms, was the only one to make a proposal by the October 15 deadline.