CDMX Metro, a time bomb

The most worrying thing about the collapse of Line 12 is that in the face of the disaster that occurred at the Olivos station, it is stated that “there were no indications of a fault of origin.” Something to remember that since the administration of Eng. Joel Ortega various audits were carried out.

MEXICO CITY, May 06, 2021 (PROCESO) .- The serious “accident”, that’s what they want to call it, which took place last Monday, May 03, justifies taking up the matter where when updating the data nothing has changed – or very little – in 7 years. From the outset, it should be noted that the Mexico City Metro represents a means of transport, a place of recreation and a market for goods and services, legal and illegal, where day by day more than 5 million people interact through its 195 stations, 1042 shops (called PATRS) and 12 lines that communicate with each other. There is no place in the American continent where there is a greater concentration of people on a regular basis. Lets see some of the details.

First. Line 12 has 466 escalators and 8 moving sidewalks which constantly present failures, which in the best of cases keep them detained, but in many others they have caused accidents ranging from users falling to the mutilation of limbs as fingers, the feet mostly of small children due to the lack of maintenance, which represents a millionaire expense when having it contracted with external companies with unclear technical annexes in the scope of said maintenance. Thus, for example, in 2019 only the company SINERGMAN S de RL de CV collected in 3 contracts the amounts of STC-CNCS-101/2019 $ 73,607,00.00; STC-CNS-011-2019 $ 17,815,186.90; STC-CNS-019-0057-2019 $ 270,000,000.00, an investment that does not match the deplorable condition of the equipment.

The accidents in trains are more frequent every day, passengers risk their integrity in the attempt to leave, facing a high voltage discharge, smoke poisoning or a fall when walking on tracks. Line 12 –which is under concession– was planned and tendered to have 24 stations, but they forgot, that is, to build 4 of the planned ones, which is why, for example, transshipments are very long on that line. The longest is at the Atlalilco station, where the passenger who intends to transfer must walk one kilometer, and although there are conveyor belts, they almost never work.

Similarly, at the Ermita station that connects Line 12 with Line 2, two stations were designed, but it was also “forgotten” to build one of them. But the most worrying thing is that given the disaster that occurred at the Olivos station, it is stated that “there were no indications of a fault of origin”. It is worth remembering that since the administration of Eng. Joel Ortega, various audits were carried out, which identified several risk points, among which we can state: a) Fracture of elastic plates in NABLA (It is a mathematical operator that can take part in various vector operations) bindings, c) Contrarriel bindings Releases, d) Bearing fracture in expansion devices, e) Deteriorated ballast and track instability, among many other items.

Line 12 maintains the contracting of the preventive and corrective maintenance service of the Track System, which in 2017, due to the “unpredictability” of what happens in the Metro, the contract STC-CNCS-017/2017 in its Technical annex specifies that: “Taking into account the situation of Line 12 (rehabilitated elevated section and part of the tunnel awaiting rehabilitation) TSO could not be responsible for failures due to the current conditions of the road and / or problems of conception and / or construction of the line and / or the rehabilitation that took place during 2015, as well as it can be seen that there are a series of documents that constantly warn about the situation of Line 12, its high section and its endless risks ”.

Additionally, the audits, contracts, maintenance programs and recommendations that are part of the white book of the delivery-reception minutes that by legal mandate are carried out between one administration and another and that are a rich source of information to put on the table that there is a common thread in what has happened, and not “unpredictable” issues.  

Second. The Metro, made up of 12 lines, has a network of security leaks to the detriment of millions of users. The nodal point is that there is no type of security. The 10 “screens” or metal detectors, in addition to being acquired by restricted invitation, never worked. In China, the “screens” do operate (both in Shanghai and in Beijing) despite the large numbers of passengers they transport.

The toilets in the Metro – which are a business because they are concessions – do not have any security mechanisms, so any would-be terrorist could easily plant a bomb. In China, for example, the bathrooms are not only strictly guarded, but they are also clean and, as if the above were not enough, they have a program to prevent users from taking photographs or videos, which is not available in the City from Mexico.

Worse still, the members of the so-called Group 70, made up of the Banking Police, the Auxiliary and the Reaction Force that is in charge of the security of the Metro assets, are only located at the turnstiles and eventually on the platforms for the sole purpose of to dose users when there are delays in the trains or in the moments of greater affluence to separate the sections of women and children. This group lacks long weapons, metal detectors and, most importantly, the instruction to take care of people, which are the reason for a public service paid with the resources of the community.

There are still so-called “shoes” that each train has and that are wooden shoes covered with non-flammable liquid to stop at each station. These have problems due to the occurrence of “trying a different oil” from the one that had been used regularly; consequently, they light up easily, before which the cabin operator “turns them off” with his extinguisher and continues on his way, potentially generating a fire with terrible consequences. Each year, more than a thousand fire extinguishers are reported stolen from the cabins, so not all have one.

The Metro invested more than 70 million dollars in a 72-wire fiber optic network project and the installation of 3,700 monitoring cameras, of which only a minimal part is used due to failures and abandonment of the system, the servers in charge of synchronizing them never complied with the technical annex stipulated at the time, in addition to the fact that their memory covers at most seven days and there are a lot of blind spots, which prevents them from fulfilling their mission.

Now with a Central Monitoring Post reduced to ashes at the beginning of this year (which was already noticed here in 2013) since it was in the defunct Central Control Post (PCC1). This leaves 6 lines out of service for the first time in the history of the metro, an incident that was classified by the FGJCDMX as a “Fortuitous and Unpredictable Accident”. It was so “unpredictable” that there are documents prepared by the Fixed Installations Management in which the risk of transformer failure was warned for some time.

Third. The fire protection systems are divided into a Wet Network totally out of the norm, obsolete and unable to operate effectively in the event of an accident due to a series of hidden defects, among which Volkswagen-type gasoline combustion engines stand out. These – Metro workers says – in no way could they withstand constant pressurization if they had to operate to mitigate a fire on the Line. There is also a failed wet network installation on line 7, the deepest in the Metro, which after almost 4 years of installation has not been able to start up due to an installation that did not observe the specification of the pipe, with inadequate support, missing in axial stops, sectioning valves, with angles that,

 The Central Control Post (PCC1) that was consumed by the fire of a transformer on January 21 of the current year took with it a millionaire investment in high voltage equipment made by the previous administration, as well as an expense of more than 400 million pesos to restore the electricity supply of lines 1, 2 and 3. This represents a constant risk of a train range, as it does not have a centralized command, which – according to the current Metro administration – was replaced by a telemetry system, a system that according to the technical annex of the contract STC-CNCS-179/202 “CONTRACTING OF THE TELEMETRY SUPPLY SERVICE OF THE ELECTRONIC EVENT RECORDER FOR INTERPRETATION OF TRAIN SIGNALS FOR 50 TRAINS OF LINE 1”, at no time was intended for online traffic regulation,but to have the information generated by the black box of the trains in order to statistically determine the behavior of the trains helping maintenance areas.

It has always been insisted (me among them) that unconventional on-site technical audits be carried out behind a desk with administrative reviews that do not go beyond justifications at the level of political rhetoric. The Metro requires a technical – not political – review of why what is happening and needs to put in place effective anti-corruption and transparency mechanisms that provide certainty about sustainable investments with costs-benefits that are reflected in the quality of the service and, very importantly , guarantee the safety of millions of lives that move daily by this means of transport.

Fourth. The tragedy at the Olivos station has been treated as a political-electoral matter to settle accounts between political actors. Who is responsible for this and other problems in the Metro? The administration that built line 12, the administrations that have not made the appropriate corrective decisions, the Metro union that has conflicts of interest due to the various ways of doing business in that internal world to the detriment of the Metro’s safety, the users who they keep self-sacrificing silence, begging a superior being that nothing happens, the local legislators of all the parties who do not verify that the budget items assigned to the Metro have been used for their purposes in a timely manner, government auditing bodies and civil society organizations (well, there is not a single one whose legal nature is the Metro from the perspective of public scrutiny and accountability). In short, all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, are victims and perpetrators by action or omission of how the Metro continues to be increasingly a time bomb calling for a far-reaching reform of attitude that does not exist today. 


The Yucatan Times