MEXICO CITY – China Railway Construction Company won a contract to build in central Mexico what will be Latin America’s first high-speed passenger rail service, the Mexican government said.
CRCC, a consortium of seven firms, presented the only qualified bid for the 50.8-billion-peso ($3.73-billion) link between Mexico City and the state of Queretaro, north of the capital.
The Mexican government estimates the project will create some 60,000 jobs.
Once in service, the train will cut from 2˝ hours to 58 minutes the trip across central Mexico, which is home to many manufacturing plants.
Mexican authorities expect the train will begin operations in December 2017, carrying some 23,000 passengers a day over 210 kilometers (130 miles) at a maximum speed of 300 kph (186 mph).
Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said the government received only three proposals to build the train.
“There are few companies building high-speed trains,” he said. “It is common that in open public bids, on average only two proposals are received.”
The Mexico City-Queretaro rail project will have its own Web site where the government will provide progress reports and financial information.
The project is also to be overseen by an audit firm “with wide experience will monitor the work’s advance, how the resources are used, and compliance with safety and other regulations,” Ruiz Esparza said.
Since 1997, when the Mexican government began to privatize the country’s railways, the 22,000-kilometer (13,700-mile) network of passenger lines has virtually disappeared.