THE CONCESSION to operate Mexico’s 1479 km Southeast Railway, linking Mexico City with the ports of Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos on the Gulf of Mexico, was due to go out to tender last month. The government announced on January 30 that two consortia had already expressed interest in the last of the big three regional railways, although it had not yet set a minimum bid price for the 50-year concession.

Both groups include US rail operators. One consists of Mexican steel and mining companies along with Illinois Central, which envisages a ferry link from Houston to Veracruz. The other combines a Chilean firm with shortline operator Anacostia & Pacific.

Meanwhile, the first Mexican concession to be awarded, the 4000 km Northeast Railway, announced a four-year investment programme on January 12. Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana, which took over the network last June, plans to spend US$175m in the first financial year, and $129m, $128m and $121m in the following three years. The company expects a compounded annual growth rate of 15% over the next three to five years, partly from increasing Nafta trade and partly from improving its market share.

TFM partner Texas Mexican Railway has started work on a new US$7·5m marshalling yard and intermodal facility in east Laredo, Texas. With 14 tracks, it will more than triple the capacity of the existing facility when it opens later this year. Tex Mex President & CEO Larry Fields said the yard is needed to handle increasing cross-border traffic. o