Mexican Tourist Railway

In 2010, the 5AT group received an invitation to participate in the planning of a new tourist railway that was being planned for the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico.

The proposed railway was to carry tourist from the airport outside the city of Cancún on the east coast of the country, to the historic sites around Chechen-itza in the centre of the country, via the coastal resort of Playa del Carmen.  Freight lines, to carry grain and container traffic, were also proposed to connect the port at Progreso on the northern coast of the peninsula to the State capital, Merida, and from Merida to Valladolid, there to connect with the tourist line to provide a through route between the capital and the major city of Cancun.  The map below illustrates the proposed routes.

Yucatan Route Map

The railway planners’ interest in the possibility of using modern steam traction was based on the premise that it would boost tourist numbers, and their interest in modern steam (and particularly the 5AT) derived from their desire to operate trains at relatively high speed.   Their approach to the 5AT group came through a British businessman acting as an intermediary.

Members of the 5AT group spent some months preparing draft plans for the railway, including an outline route map from which track and infrastructure costs were estimated, for both single and double track operations. Train numbers were estimated based on predicted passenger numbers and freight tonnage, and schedules for both freight and passenger trains were estimated based on calculated locomotive performance and assumed track conditions (for both single and double track operations).  From these, track mileage were calculated (420km), along with rolling stock requirements were calculated (20 locomotives; 176 carriages; 158 grain wagons and 91 container wagons) and project costs estimated.

After many man-months of effort by the 5AT group, the railway planners lost interest in the steam option after being wooed by electric train suppliers.  Contact was lost with them in 2011 when their website began presenting images of ultra-modern high-speed electric trains.  Notwithstanding, planning a project of this type and magnitude was of great value as a learning exercise for the group.