20 August 2006

SCT derails runaway train

The Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) thankfully derailed plans for building a bullet-train line between Mexico City and Guadalajara. The line, which would have cost around eight million pesos per kilometer, would have run mostly likely passed through Queretaro, Celaya, Irapuato and Leon and sped between the capital and Guadalajara in just two hours and 35 minutes. (Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador promised to build a bullet train from Mexico City and the border during his campaign.)

Jalisco officials, most notably Governor Francisco Ramirez Acuna, blasted the project's demise, saying it would impact economic development in the state. In fact, this Soviet-scale scheme would probably achieve no such thing. Bullet trains seldom - if ever - make money, especially when new and unexpected competition arrives. A spate of new discount airlines recent took flight in Mexico, slashing the cost of travel and obviously speeding it up. (A flight between Guadalajara and Toluca often costs only marginally more than luxury bus ticket.) The bus network in Mexico is also fairly efficient. Train fares would probably not have competed favorably.

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