Thursday, November 16, 2023

Mayan Train Scheduled to Open in December


Executive Chef, Jonathan Navarrete, of Our Habitas San Miguel, gives us a taste of a Marquesita at Sunday brunch.

I messaged VIAJES VERTIZ, S.A. de C.V (American Express Travel) today to see if I could come to their office to book tickets on the Mayan Train. They replied to me as follows: “Hello, good morning. The issue here is that there is no official information about this train so we could not help you in this case to resolve your doubts. All the information that has been generated does not have official support, so we cannot validate that the information is correct.”

I am keeping an eye on this as I figure the train will substantially cut time off many sections of my culinary trip through Mexico starting in March. I will gladly update anyone who is interested as I expect there will be a run on tickets once they’re released.

The first phase of the Mayan Train is scheduled to open in less than a month, which will be the section that connects Campeche with Cancún. On December 31, 2023, the section that links Cancún with Palenque will be enabled. Finally, the project will be fully operational by February 29, 2024.

If you haven’t been following the progress, here is a summary of what I know so far:

The Mayan Train, or “Tren Maya”, is a railway project that will connect five states in Mexico’s southeast, covering a distance of approximately 1500 kilometers/932 miles: Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo.

The railway begins in Palenque in Chiapas and travels northeast towards Cancun in Quintana Roo via two routes that encircle the peninsula. The stations will be strategically located near a variety of attractions, activities and experiences in 14 Pueblos Magicos6 World Heritage Sites and 50 archaeological sites as well as 28 rural communities and 18 indigenous areas.

The route of the Mayan Train has been divided into three main regions: Selva (Jungle), Caribe (Caribbean) and Golfo (Gulf). Traversing these three sections there are seven distinct stretches of track with 20 main stations and 14 stops (paraderos).

The Mayan Train will offer three categories of service:

Xiinbal (Standard): The basic passenger service. It will have panoramic windows to admire the scenery, business class seats, standard seats, and a cafeteria.

Janal (Eat): Service with different seating configurations and restaurant with typical food and beverages from the regions through which the Tren Maya passes. Tables are for two or four people. 

P'atal (Stay): Designed for long distances and to enjoy the tourist and cultural sites along the route. It has reclining seats and sleeping cabins with a private bathroom with shower and intercom.

The train’s menu will feature more than thirty dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, showcasing the regional Mayan cuisine such as chipilín tamales, motuleño eggs, panuchos, cochinita pibil, venison tzic, lime soup, papadzules, among others. The train’s dessert menu will offer traditional Marquesitas, artisanal chocolates, cocada and dulce de nance. The train will also serve regional drinks such as coffee, Pozol, water and Chaya tea, Pitahaya and Lime waters, Xtabentún, Tequila, Mezcal, Wine, Pulque and craft beers from Mexico.

The Mayan Train can reach a speed of 160 km/h (99mph). It will also feature high-performance heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, as well as wide windows offering scenic views of the Maya region. It’s expected to cut current transit times in half.

Mayan Train sleeper car, courtesy of Alstom

There are no official prices yet, but the projected fare for passenger tra

nsportation will be contingent on the length of the journey undertaken, distinguishing between regional commuters, national travelers, and international tourists, with local residents enjoying the most economical rates – estimated at 50 pesos. For tourists, the fare will be higher, as it is expected to be between $800 and 1,000 pesos per leg.