WORK is expected to begin next month to refurbish a 23km freight railway to provide passenger services to the new Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA) in Mexico City.

The line branches northeast to Jaltocan from Lechería on the 26km commuter line between Buenavista station and Cuautitlán, which has been operated by a concession led by CMFS, the Mexican subsidiary of CAF Turnkey and Engineering, since 2008.

The Pesos 12.9bn ($US 640m) project will offer four intermediate stations and CMFS will cooperate with Mexico’s Federal Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT) and the Ministry of Defence (Sedena), which is building the airport and will also oversee construction of the railway.

The airport is due to open in March 2022 although the railway is expected to open in the second half of 2023, according to Mr Manuel Gómez Parra, general director of Railway and Multimodal Development at SCT.

Only minimal amendments are expected to right-of-way permits for the new railway, the Mexican Environment Ministry says, and Gómez told a recent briefing of civil engineers that the findings of a previous study could be inferred. “There are some squatters along the route but they’re already being housed elsewhere, and we’re expecting to have the new line in operation in the second half of 2023,” he says.

The project involves rebuilding the existing single-track line to double track, which will support both passenger operation as well as maintain freight flows. Work will also include the construction of workshops, eight overpasses, two viaducts, a four-lane road bridge over the line and 16 pedestrian bridges.

SCT has allocated Pesos 298m to the project this year and 6.9% of this figure was spent between January and July. The federal government is funding 81% of the project, the private sector 12% with the remainder coming from municipal and state budgets. An environmental impact statement for the project was published last month, meaning the project is able to proceed to the construction phase in September.

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