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By Angela Cotey, Associate Editor
This past summer, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced plans to invest about $100 billion in the country's infrastructure during the next five years. The investments in rail, road, telecom and ports are aimed at making the country more competitive, as well as addressing congestion issues. The rail projects would revive passenger-rail service in a country that discontinued much of its service more than a decade ago, says José Zozaya, president of the Asociación Mexicana de Ferrocarriles A.C. and president of Kansas City Southern de México.Initial studies, such as stability assessments, are under way for three proposed lines: a 147-mile corridor line that would run from Mexico City to Queretaro; a 47-mile route connecting Mexico City with Toluca, the capital of Mexico State; and a 200-mile Yucatan route running from Merida to Cancun. The Mexican government is expected to invest about $7.4 billion in the projects in 2014."These three projects would connect cities that have a lot of passengers traveling all of the time," says Zozaya. "These areas are growing in terms of the numbers of employees and jobs, and Merida is growing in different ways — not only tourists, but also commercial-wise."The government expects daily ridership to total about 250,000 on the Mexico City-Toluca route, and about 12,000 on the Mexico City-Querétaro and Yucatán routes, says Zozaya. Construction timelines have not yet been created, but Zozaya expects the projects will continue to advance during the remaining five years of the Nieto administration."The president believes that passenger trains will provide great connectivity for the country, and it also shows a more modern country," he says. "We hope there will be much more investment coming to those areas once we have the connectivity."