Pesos 4000bn ($US 307.7bn) is to be invested up to 2018 to modernise and improve roads, railways, ports, airports and telecommunications. "This is a large investment programme, with necessary and urgent actions to consolidate Mexico as a true emerging economic power this century," says Peña Nieto. He says the national plan aims to turn Mexico into "a major global logistics hub with high added value."

The president believes the total investment could be even higher if the plan is approved by the Chamber of Deputies at the same time as the tax reform bill which is due to be submitted in September. He says the plan could "trigger public and private investment in this sector of up to Pesos 1300bn."

"The size of these figures reflects the government's commitment to make transport and communications a strategic engine for national development," says the president.

There are three main objectives:

• to develop logistics to cut transport costs, improve safety, and to increase the value of products made in Mexico

• to promote balanced regional development, and

• to improve the quality of life for the population.

As far as rail is concerned, the president wants to see a revival of long-distance passenger services, which were virtually abandoned when National Railways of Mexico was split up and privatised. Agreements were signed in January for a new 245km passenger railway between Mexico City and Querétaro and a new 278km line from Merida to Puerto Venado, with trains operating at up to 180km/h. There will also be investment in urban rail networks.