Monterrey-San Antonio Linking Train Plan Has Been Confirmed
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Monterrey-San Antonio Linking Train Plan Has Been Confirmed

Photo by:   Ryan Miller, Pexels
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Pamela Benítez By Pamela Benítez | Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 12/02/2021 - 15:30

Mexico and US authorities have signed an agreement that would confirm plans for the Monterrey-San Antonio 100-250 mph high-speed train expected to pollute less than vehicles that jam the border crossing in Laredo. This agreement consolidates a 1980 passenger train link plan ambition. 

Nuevo Leon’s Mobility Minister, Hernán Villareal, announced that an agreement between US-Mexican parties has been signed, and a MX$2 million feasibility study for the San Antonio-to-Monterrey 300-mile service is being planned and expected to be coordinated by the Ministry of Infrastructure Communications and Transport (SICT).

The examination includes studies of the potential costs of building the train link line while sizing passenger demand between the Monterrey and San Antonio service, the trip is contemplated to lasts approximately four hours. However, the total time depends on the number of stops made during the journey. 

“Trips by airplane are efficient when they are longer trips, but for fewer hours, trains have the advantage,” said David Camacho, Head of Mexico’s Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport.

This passenger train link plan between Monterrey and San Antonio has been considered for more than three decades by Mexican-US politicians and railway advocates, especially as Monterrey is the largest city on the northern side of the country.

At first, a two-hour trip serviced by a high-speed rail line that connects both cities was initially planned but was later discarded due to the travel time being deemed as unrealistic. Later, a subsequent 2017 study led by the US Federal Railway Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation, demonstrated the possibility of offering frequent train service on the I-35 corridor between the state of Oklahoma and Texas, where an extension to Monterrey city was possible. 

However, even if the study demonstrated the feasibility of having a daily amount of up to six-high-speed trains servicing between the US and Mexico, Texas lawmakers did not apply for federal funds to kick-start the development of the rail service between Oklahoma and Texas which, according to the study, it would be the first phase of the project.

On the other hand, Mexican authorities have currently planned a more practical approach with the replacement of the high-speed trains that have a capacity of 250 mph with conventional trains that have a maximum speed of 100 mph.

The reduction of the speed will allow the authorities to invest less in locomotives, resulting in an MX$7 billion estimation compared to the MX$20 billion budget evaluation with the high-speed train service.

Mexican authorities have also declared that the existing tracks are expected to be used for the linking side of the project, while the passenger line could occupy the tracks used by freight trains between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, which is operated by the Kansas City Southern railroad. However, talks between the Mexican rail agency and the KCS railroad are still pending according to Camacho.

Photo by:   Ryan Miller, Pexels

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