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News Article

Mexico City Metro Line 1 To Go Through Major Modernization

By María José Goytia | Tue, 07/05/2022 - 10:00

The Mexico City Metro is set to be updated, as the government plans a thorough remodeling of Line 1 to modernize its service after half a century of service. During the works, the line may be kept out of service for more than a year.

The renovation project is to become the weightiest maintenance and modernization work in the decades the subway system has been operating. Authorities hope to turn the country's first and oldest subway route into the most modern in Latin America.

"It is necessary work. We could not do it and leave the issues as they are, but the Metro’s Line 1 is 53 years old. More than 10 years ago, a renovation process should have been initiated already," commented Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City’s Mayor.

Line 1 is also the busiest subway route, with around 500,000 passengers daily, transporting one-sixth of all the subway users. Before the pandemic, the line averaged 750,000 users, nearing 900,000 travelers during peak transit days. Line 1 connects with nine Metro lines, four Metrobus lines, four electric transport routes and bus services in its 19km of length.

In 2014, the Paris Metro conducted a study where it defined that the systems had an average useful life of 40 years, after which its components need to be replaced. Following this idea, Line 1 should have been remodeled approximately 13 years ago.

The modernization represents a total investment of up to MX$37 billion (US$1.86 billion), to be spread out over the next 19 years. The current route’s operational state is critical, featuring an obsolete control system, dilapidated tracks and worn-out wiring. The equipment to be replaced includes trains, tracks, communications-based train control (CBTC), telecommunications and power supply systems, among other gear.

The modernization project aims to reduce the travel time required to complete the entire route from 50 to 30 minutes. Moreover, 39 new trains will be purchased, which are already being assembled in the workshops of the Collective Transportation System (CTS) and will have a minimum of 35 percent of national components. The 25 trains currently in service will be reassigned to other lines. With this increase in the number of units, the city government expects that waiting times on the platform will be reduced to 90 seconds.

The work will be carried out in two phases, one for each half of the line, beginning on July 9. In the first phase, 12 stations are to be closed temporarily between July 2022 and March 2023, from Pantitlán to Salto del Agua. In the second phase, the remaining 8 stations from Balderas to Observatorio will remain closed, from March to August 2023. The line’s reinauguration is scheduled for August 2023.

The project was planned three years ago. China Railways, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned company CRRC and the world’s largest railway manufacturer, won the tender, which was supervised by the UN. CRRC has also announced plans to set up a plant in Mexico to supply other metro services in Latin America.

During the first phase of the closure, the city’s authorities aim to reinforce public transportation alternatives for the line’s users, including buses, trolleybuses, the Metrobus and other Metro lines.

"It is going to impact users, although we are trying to keep the damage to a minimum. The fundamental objective is to diminish risks and deliver a fully modernized Metro Line 1," Sheinbaum said.

Since its completion in 1984, Line 1 only suffered one major accident: a collision of two trains at Tacubaya station on March 10, 2020, resulting in one death and leaving 41 injured. The fire at the STC Metro's Central Control Post I in January 2021 was another incident that upset the operation of Line 1. One month after the fire, Lines 1 and 3 continued to be disrupted by long arrival intervals and power cuts.

Parallel to these remodeling works, the reconstruction works for Line 12 are carried out. The collapse of a section of Line 12 caused the death of 26 people.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
El País, Reforma, Expansión, El Financiero, El Universal
Photo by:   Metro CDMX on Twitter
María José Goytia María José Goytia Journalist and Industry Analyst