The federal government has run out of resources to contract pre-investment studies for eleven railway projects, according to notifications from the Regulatory Agency for Railway and Multimodal Transport (ARTFM) to the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP).
For analysts, this situation responds to the fact that priority has been given to the Mayan Train, a work whose cost is already estimated at 230 billion pesos, that is, an extra cost of 74 billion over the amount initially raised, as reported by EL UNIVERSAL a few days ago.
The ARTFM has notified the tax authority of the need to reschedule the contracting of pre-investment studies since there is no money for it.
Thus, the projects without assignment are the Hidalgo-AIFA Suburban Train, Tehuantepec Isthmus Passenger Train, Naucalpan-Buenavista Light Train, Xalapa Light Train, Tapachula-Chiapas Airport Train, Colima Regional Train, Monterrey-Saltillo Interurban Train, Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo Interurban Train, Morelia Light Train, Coahuila Suburban Train, and Campeche Light Train.
In different trades, the ARTFM recognizes the insufficient budget to carry out these works, even in works considered a priority for this administration, which jointly demanded around 430 million pesos.
At the same time, this newspaper reported last week that the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism (Fonatur) spends 25 billion pesos on consultancy for the Mayan Train.
Juan Carlos Machorro, leader of the transactional and financial practice area of Santamarina y Steta, pointed out that it is not valid to give priority to the Mayan Train, a flagship project "which up to now has shown that it is a poorly planned work and without the allocation and use of responsible resources, and that probably does not have the operational, financial or social viability of the other eleven.”
This situation creates a problem of poor planning and responsibility of officials in the allocation of resources, he added, who will have to answer for these enormous distortions.
"It is inconceivable that they spend 25 billion pesos on advice and consultancy for a train and do not have 430 million for the studies of eleven others that could later be of greater relevance for the economy and for the society," Machorro highlighted.
In the inkwell
The federal government refers to the lack of resources for the studies of the Suburban Train that will unite that entity with the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) and the Tehuantepec Isthmus Passenger Train project.
Isidro Enrique Zepeda Ortega, in charge of the office of the General Directorate of Studies, Statistics and Mexican Railway Registry of the ARTFM, asked the SHCP to reschedule the hiring of companies for both cases because there is no budget.
In letters dated March 23 of this year, held by EL UNIVERSAL, the official explained that both works had to have been contracted and delivered in 2021, but the scheduled resource was not assigned.
For the pre-investment studies of the Suburban Train to the AIFA, 42 million 372 thousand pesos were estimated, and for the Passengers of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, it was 25 million 745 thousand pesos.
The ARTFM had warned that one of the main risk factors for carrying out pre-investment studies was precise "not having the timely availability of resources for investment."
In this same case, there are the pre-investment studies for the Naucalpan-Buenavista Light Train, with a cost of 53.6 million pesos, designed to determine the feasibility of implementing in a first stage, a light rail passenger rail system on the disused railway infrastructure of Line "N" from the historic station of Río Hondo, in the Municipality of Naucalpan de Juárez, to the Buenavista Suburban Train terminal, in a length of 14.6 kilometers.
Also the pre-investment studies for the Colima-Manzanillo Regional Train, where 41.4 million pesos would tentatively be spent to determine the feasibility of implementing 100.5 kilometers in the metropolitan area, starting in the municipality of Colima, connecting with the municipality of Armería and ending in the municipality of Manzanillo (Port City of Manzanillo), using the railway infrastructure of Lines "I and IP".
Another project is the Coahuila-Monterrey train, whose studies for 100 million pesos should have started this year, although there is no financial sufficiency.
Also, its 264.8-kilometer expansion would connect Monterrey, Nuevo León, with Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, on the southern border with the United States, a project even committed by the chief executive with the current governor of Nuevo León, Samuel García.
The state president went further, announcing in July of last year that bilateral cooperation between Texas and Nuevo León will be essential and strategic for economic reactivation, for which reason work would be done on the Monterrey-San Antonio train project, which would be part of the rail route that would cross Mexico, the United States, and Canada as part of the T-MEC rail corridor.
Insufficient resources also made it necessary to reschedule pre-investment studies for works such as the Integrated Transport System in the Eastern Zone of the Valley of Mexico: Trolleybus System for the Chalco-Tláhuac and Chalco-Santa Marta areas, and the Rehabilitation of Line A of the STC Metro.
In this case, it was Minerva Pérez Reséndiz, ARTFM Deputy General Director of Multimodal Transport and Logistics who issued the corresponding official letter to reschedule 27.5 million pesos for this year.
And what about tourism?
The specialist in the tourism economy of Grupo Empresarial Estrategia (Gemes), Humberto Molina, described it as unfortunate that the resources of the Non-Resident Law (a fee charged to all foreign tourists in the price of the plane ticket) are being allocated to the Train Maya, instead of promoting the country's resorts, especially at a time when all the destinations that compete with Mexico are being aggressive in their promotion.
“Everyone wants to recover what they lost in the pandemic, and the destinations that compete with Mexico are carrying out very attractive campaigns to attract tourists; This is something that we need to be able to consolidate the recovery, ” he said.
"Sooner or later we are going to resent the lack of tourism promotion, because, in 2020, 2021, and part of 2022, we saw this favorable situation that Mexico was one of the few destinations open to travelers from the United States, without any requirement, but to the extent that other countries begin to open, that situation no longer exists," said Molina.
Source: El Universal
Juan Carlos Machorro