TENDERING for the 50-year concession to operate Mexico’s 1480 km Sureste Railway began on February 18. Connecting Mexico City with the Gulf coast ports of Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos, the line carries almost 9% of the country’s rail freight. The government has set June 11 as the deadline for submitting bids, and hopes to select a concessionaire by July 3.

No minimum price has been set on this occasion. Amongst the firms expecting to bid is Illinois Central, now owned 75% by Canadian National (RG 3.98 p140). The winner will also be given an option to buy the Mayab railway, part of FNM’s present Sureste business, which runs from Coatzacoalcos to Merida in Yucatan.

Next to be offered for sale will be the Vale do Mexico terminal railway, which connects the Sureste, Noreste and Pacifico-Norte and two regional routes in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. However, the government has decided not to privatise the 240 km Tehuantepec Isthmus railway, which links the ports of Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz, because of its strategic position as a short route between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.

Control of FNM’s 10460 km Pacifico-Norte network passed to the Grupo Ferroviario Mexicano consortium on February 19. Operations were suspended for a day while a new union agreement was negotiated; GFM, in which Union Pacific has a 13% stake, has taken on just 4200 of the original 14000 staff.

  • Noreste concessionaire Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana awarded a 17-year contract on March 2 for Motive Power Industries subsidiary MPI de Mexico to overhaul and maintain 168 diesel locos at San Luis Potosi. Worth US$419m, the deal replaces a previous contract with the government that had six years to run. MPI de Mexico maintains 151 other units under contract for TFM and other Mexican firms.

    TFM has ordered 75 new SD70MACs from General Motors EMD, which will be assembled at Bombardier’s former Concarril works at Sahagun. The plant started work on the first of 275 SD70MACs covered by the partnership agreement in January: a build of 130 for Burlington Northern Santa Fe using components supplied from London, Ontario. o