Eight consortiums compete for the Tren Maya basic engineering design contract

The pre-investment phase of the Maya train – the passenger and freight rail service planned for southeastern Mexico – continues advancing with the submission of eight bids for the the basic engineering design contract.

The tender process for that contract has revealed further details about the development, which, in addition to recent information provided by authorities, has provided a clearer picture about what to expect.


Launched in May as the first public tender for the project, the process to win the contract to carry out the basic engineering design was open solely to domestic companies.

The responsibilities of the winning firm include completing cartographical and topographical studies; geological, geotechnical and geophysical analyses; water and sewerage studies; coordinating the environmental and social impact studies with the firm selected for that task; building an inventory of existing railway and facilities in the area to be impacted; analysis of route options and definition of the final route; and the definition of structures and tunnels, as well as proposals for where to build the stations.

The contractor will also be in charge of analyzing the potential urban impacts, estimating the potential effects on existing roads and railways, obtaining capex and opex estimates and estimating the budget.

The maximum reference price for the contract was set at 418 million pesos (US$21.2mn) plus VAT (IVA).

Although July 22 was originally set as the date to announce the contract winner, the timetable had to be pushed back after the companies interested submitted an extraordinary number of questions. National tourism board Fonatur – the agency responsible for the project – provided the respective answers on July 15, along with the most up-to-date version of the preliminary route. Two other clarification meetings were held on July 15 and 19.

On July 29, eight consortiums submitted their bids, with the award of the contract penciled in for Friday August 9. The contract is expected to be signed two weeks later and will last eight months.


At 418 million pesos plus VAT, a consortium comprised of Triada ConsultoresIdom IngenieríaDirac, Egismex, Triada Geotecnia and Ingeniería de Proyectos e Infraestructura Mexicanas posted the highest bid.

The lowest, for 299 million pesos plus VAT, was submitted by a group headed by Key Capital and including Senermex Ingeniería y Sistemas, Daniferro Tools and Geotecnia y Supervisión Técnica.

Other participants include Ayesa México, which submitted a joint bid with Transconsult; Ingeniería y Gestión Hídrica; URS Corporation México; ALB Energía; and Constructora Moyeda, among others. A total of 33 companies make up the eight bidding consortiums.


Instead of the originally planned 1,525km, the Maya railway is now expected to be 1,452 km long, based on the tender’s technical service requirements, which were updated due to the questions submitted by tender participants.

The line – to be comprised of three stretches further divided into seven subsections – will be used by both passenger and freight trains. There will be 28 stations along the route, including the two terminals.

The passenger trains will run at average speeds of 160km/h.

During the first four months of the contract, the selected basic engineering contractor will have to work on the following subsections:

1) Jungle 1. This subsection will link Palenque in Chiapas state, to Escárcega in the state of Campeche (227 km);

2) Gulf 1. This will run from Escárcega to the border between Campeche and Yucatán states, crossing the city of Campeche (253km);

3) Gulf 2. This will lead from the border between Campeche and Yucatán to Izamal in Yucatán. This section will cross Yucatán’s state capital, Mérida (150km); and,

4) Gulf 3. Running between Izamal and Tulúm, via Valladolid and Cobá (202km). This subsection was originally set to run from Valladolid to Cancún, but Fonatur decided to change the route and shorten it by 55km to avoid having to pay rights-of-way to a highway concessionaire.

Work in the following four months will have to be carried out on the three remaining subsections:

1) Caribbean 2. This stretch will link Tulúm and Cancún, both in Quintana Roo state (135 km);

2) Caribbean 1. This will run from Tulúm to Bacalar, also in Quintana Roo state (213 km); and

3) Jungle 2. This subsection will link Bacalar to Escárcega, crossing the Calakmul biosphere reserve (272 km).

Rail tracks already exist on part of the sections linking Palenque-Escárcega-Campeche-Mérida-Izamal-Valladolid, while the railway linking Cancún-Bacalar-Escárcega will have to be built from scratch. Although the specific locations of the planned 28 stations have not been formally announced, it is expected that there will be stops at the following cities: Palenque, Tenosique, Tabasco, Escárcega, Campeche; Mérida, Itzamal, Chichén-Itza, Valladolid, Cancún, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulúm, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Bacalar and Calakmul.


Tabasco – the home state of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) – will have two stations instead of the one that had been originally announced for Tenosique. The second one will be built in Balancán, close to the border with Guatemala.

The announcement was made by Fonatur director Rogelio Jiménez Pons and state governor Adán Augusto López during a visit by the former to Tenosique. It is still being decided whether the Balancán station will be a main or secondary facility, and it could be located near the San Pedro river or in the village of El Triunfo, which is home to an old train station, local press reported.

Meanwhile, Zhu Qingqiao, who was appointed as the Chinese ambassador to Mexico a couple of months ago, confirmed that some of the state-owned companies from the Asian nation are interested in participating in the railway project.

Required investments in the railway are currently estimated at 120-150bn pesos. The project will be tendered in seven construction contracts under public-private partnership (PPP) contracts, plus another one to provide the rolling stock and an additional one to choose an operator.