Maya Train Set To Connect The Yucatan Peninsula Like Never Before
An exciting new railway system is set to be unveiled in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in 2023 after the government removed roadblocks surrounding its development. The controversial project will connect the popular hub of Cancun with countless towns, cities, and sites around the region like never before.
Cancun, along with the likes of Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is an incredibly popular destination for sun-seeking vacationers but suffers from a lack of connectivity with the wealth of cultural attractions in its surrounding area. The vast majority of visitors to the region have their sights set on an all-inclusive resort in the hotel zone and rarely venture out unless on an organized tour.
The new railway project, The Maya Train, is set to change all that. The sprawling 948-mile line will connect Cancun with the entire peninsula with ease, offering tourists and residents alike the chance to explore the region with independence, transforming the landscape for the industry. The line will pass through the states of Quintana Roo, Yucutan, Chiapas, Campeche, and Tabasco.
If estimates are correct, tourists will now be connected with as many as 190 individual cultural sites, archeological zones, or tourist attractions. 46 Mayan sites will be accessible, as well as 14 of Mexico’s “Magical Towns,” which are villages or towns noted for their cultural significance or beauty.
The final product will be a large loop with two offshoots to reach destinations slightly further out and will feature twenty individual train stations at strategic points around the peninsula.
Tourists can expect the typical big names to all have their own station. Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Puerto Morelos, all the major beach destinations, will be connected along their short strip of the Mexican Caribbean coast, opening the opportunity for resort loyalists to try a quick trip to another town with ease.
More exciting is the new kind of travel experience it will provide regular visitors and new ones alike. Cancun is generally avoided by cultural tourists due to the lack of historic sites in the immediate vicinity and the emphasis on luxury and resort life. When the system is completed, travelers will now be able to visit the likes of Merida, recently named one of the best cities in the world to visit.
Merida highlights a drastically different experience from the beachside resorts, offering a chance to try more local food, understand the colonial history of the area, and move at a different pace than the hotel zones.
There’s also a stop for the world-famous Mayan ruin, Chichen Itza, one of the wonders of the world. Previously, if visitors to Cancun or Tulum had intended to visit the site, the easiest way would have been to book an organized tour or rent a car. The train simplifies the accessibility issues of visiting, adding to the value of a stay anywhere in the peninsula.
Other interesting stops on the line include often neglected Quintana Roo capital Chetumal and several other lesser-known inland towns.
The project hasn’t been without its controversies, however, and dissenters have successfully stalled its construction several times. Environmentalists and historians have scorned the seemingly rushed development of the Maya Train. Many claim the construction in some areas is bulldozing through valuable undiscovered Mayan archeology zones, destroying pieces of Mexico’s cultural heritage.
Those protecting the environment are concerned about underground caverns and cenotes that will be destroyed in the process. Many of these caves were also sacred places for the Mayan civilization and could also be valuable archeology sites. Others have highlighted the destruction of rainforest areas in the region.
Mexico’s government is often accused for cutting corners for financial benefit, and it appears to have wrangled its way around any further roadblocks by declaring the project a “National Security Project,” which grants it priority over some of the cultural discrepancies that have been brought to light.
If all goes to plan, the train linee should be functional by the end of 2023, although it is likely it may be extended into 2024 along with Tulum’s new airport.
A full list of the intended Maya Train Stations are listed below:
- San Francisco de Campeche
- Mérida, Izamal
- Chichén Itzá
- Puerto Morelos
- Playa del Carmen
- Felipe Carrillo Puerto
- El Triunfo
- Boca Del Cerro
- Nuevo Xsan
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