Mexico City Mobility Still in ConstructionBy Lorenzo Núñez | Thu, 07/08/2021 - 09:25
Mexico City is the center of the country’s metropolitan development. Alongside the massive Santa Lucia project, the city is working on a good amount of infrastructure projects to improve its notoriously clustered mobility infrastructure. One thing is clear about these projects, which is that they involve several trains. There is a light train, an intercity train, controversial trains such as Line 12 and a train connecting the so important Santa Lucia airport to the rest of the city. Mexico Business News presents an overview of the main projects to be completed during this administration and their current progress.
Light Train Rehabilitation
Earlier this year, the light train rehabilitation project, which stretches from Xochimilco to Taxqueña, resumed operations. “The light rail system plays a very important role in mobility in the south of the city. Its tracks in some segments were 100 years old or more because it was the old tramway that led to the center of the city. Replacing the tracks gives new life to the Light Train and the project is once again operational,” said Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.
The entire rehabilitation of the 13.5km train system cost US$37.5 million, which was divided in two segments: one being from the Azteca Stadium to Xochmilico with an investment of US$19.7 million and the other from Taxqueña to the Azteca Stadium with an investment of US$14.6 million. The remaining US$3.4 million were used to renew the catenary. According to government officials, thanks to the comprehensive rehabilitation of this electric transportation system, which renewed operations on Jan. 11, 2021, the travel time from Taxqueña to Xochimilco was reduced from 55 to 33 minutes.
Cablebús Line 1 and Line 2
Sheinbaum inaugurated back in March of this year section Tlalpexco-Campos Revolucion of Cablebús Line 1, which is expected to improve mobility in one of the cities most populated sectors. The Cablebús cableway runs for 1.7km and will be open to the public Monday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Line 1 received an investment of nearly US$140 million and generated 2,800 jobs. Its total length will be of 9.2km, including 63 towers. The project is expected to impact over 48,000 people every day by connecting remote areas of the city and reducing travel time from 20 to six minutes.
Cablebús Line 2 connects areas of high marginalization and population density in Iztapalapa and will begin operations by the end of June of this year. “Cablebús is not only an innovative form of mobility in the city but the best mobility project for the lower income areas of the city. The only way to reduce inequalities, as we have said many times, is to improve accessibility for the poorest people in the city,” said Sheinbaum in March, during Cablebús Line 1’s press conference. Line 2 had a bigger investment than Line 1 with US$148 million. The project will reduce travel time by over 50 percent and its total length is expected to span 10.6km with 56 stations, benefitting a population of over 300,000 people, as reported by the government.
There is the possibility of a Line 3 and Line 4 but they have been put on hold due external factors to Cablebús itself, such as the recent Metro Line 12 accident. As reported by MBN, Line 3 is set to begin operations in 2022 but Line 4 is still in its early planning stage, as the government is waiting for the completion of the Interurban Train to see the impact it will have on demand for public transportation.
On May 15 of this year, construction began of the elevated trolleybus going from Ermita to Iztapalapa. This project has an investment of US$164 million and will cover a 7.2km route. During its first stage it will manage 50 trolleybuses, seven stations and two terminals to transport 140,000 people per day. The initial route will be connected to Mexico City's integrated public transportation system through the Constitución 1917 Metro station and the UACM Cablebús station. All stations will be accessed through safe crossings at street level, as well as inclusive infrastructure for people with disabilities. Each trolleybus will have a 142-people capacity with a price per unit of US$560,000 purchased from Yutong company. As reported by MBN, Mexico City Minister of Mobility Andrés Lajaous highlighted that the project meets user's needs in extending Metro Line 8 for a safer and faster transportation. "We chose an elevated trolley as this saves times for users leaving the Iztapalapa area. We are reducing transportation times by more than 30 percent," he said.
In addition, Sheinbaum stated that the Trolleybus will help people that were affected by the recent Metro Line 12 collapse. "It can also help. Now, we are going to revisit a stretch where people are making a lot of time. Metrobús is going to be improved and at the same time, all this rehabilitation work on Line 12 will continue, which is indispensable and a priority," she explained. She also confirmed that although the project was delayed, it will be inaugurated in August. "There are enough workers and enough resources to finish it. The inauguration was moved from June to August but the trolleybuses are already there and the electromechanical work is already being done; there is no problem," she said in an interview with the media.
Mexico City-Toluca Interurban Train
The goal of this project is to be a fast and comfortable means of transportation that will serve over 230,000 passengers per day. It will have a total length of 57.7km and six stations: two terminals and four intermediate stations. Currently, the work has a total progress of 90.6 percent. Of the three sections of public works, the first two (located in the State of Mexico) have a progress of 94 percent, while the third (located in Mexico City) has less than 40 percent. However, Sheinbaum has expressed her administration’s interest in finishing the project. Furthermore, the Minister of Communications and Transportation, Javier Jiménez Espriú, stated the train will be ready to enter commercial operations from Zinacantepec to Observatorio by the end of 2022, one year after the Zinacantepec-Santa Fe section is completed. This was part of the most important infrastructure projects in the country, which we covered in an analysis piece here.
Suburban Train to AIFA
Perhaps one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country, the Santa Lucia airport, has received a lot of criticism for a number of things yet to be resolved. One is air traffic, given there are still issues to address regarding how the new airport is going to operate alongside the current Mexico City, as well as the Toluca airport.
The other major point of criticism is connectivity. The Santa Lucia project is far away from Mexico City at 45km from AICM, according to the official government data. Currently, a trip from AICM to AIFA can take between 50 minutes and an hour and a half in a private car, while using public transport can take up to two hours depending on traffic and the route chosen. However, the government has a plan to decrease the travel time with different infrastructure projects. One of the potential answers to this particular issue is an extension to the Suburban Train that will stretch from Ramal Lechería all the way to the new airport. Although 14 land connectivity projects have been proposed, the train is the one with the greatest capacity to move people.
“We have been working on the project with the federal administration for the last two years and now, it is in its development stage at different sections. In addition, SEDENA is already building the terminal station and some of the platforms are already finished,” said Maximiliano Zurita, CEO of CAF, the company in charge of the project. “We will start with some works including a new freight rail yard. It will be necessary to move some freight tracks to affect the current concessionaires. We will also see detours of pipelines, ducts and cable services that are within the rights of way and will have to be relocated. Likewise, construction works will surely begin regarding the passenger rail and track viaducts." The project will require an investment of approximately US$1 million, which will be financed 50 percent by CAF and 50 percent by the federal government.
Metro Line 12 Extension
Extending Line 12 to the Observatorio Line 1 station demands a project of 4.6km, which will be connected by a tunnel of 3,883m. The project will include three stations, Valentín Campa, Álvaro Obregón and Observatorio, as well as seven shafts, four for construction and three for ventilation. However, the recent accident of Line 12 has put this plan on hold. Line 12 has been troublesome ever since it began operations. Prior to the accident back in May, Line 12 had previously been monitored and tracked for any potential problems, but inspections did not reveal potential risks or existing problems. The company in charge of the inspection was Ingeniería, Servicios y Sistemas Aplicados (ISSA), which received US$250,000 payment from SCT for its services. As reported by MBN, ISSA has also worked in different infrastructure projects for the local government, such as Cablebús and other Line 12 improvements. In August 2019, ISSA received a US$630,000 contract to update the electromechanics of Line 12. The company also received a US$2 million payment for the installation of the electric elevators and fire prevention systems of Line 12. At the moment, works regarding the Metro are focused on rehabilitation efforts for Line 12.