Explore The Isthmus of Tehuantepec on Mexico’s New Rail Line

isthmus tehuantepec interoceanic train
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Journey Through Time and Terrain: Exploring The Isthmus of Tehuantepec on Mexico’s New Rail Line

Between the crystalline waters of the Pacific Ocean and the serene Gulf of Mexico, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec stands as a bridge connecting two worlds, two oceans, and a tapestry of cultures.

This narrow strip of land in southern Mexico has long been a crossroads of history, commerce, and tradition.

Now, with the inauguration of Mexico’s new rail line “Interoceanic Train,” a groundbreaking chapter unfolds, inviting intrepid travelers to embark on a captivating expedition through the heart of this remarkable region.

Join me on a journey that transcends mere transportation, unveiling the untold stories, vibrant landscapes, and cultural treasures that define the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The new Interoceanic Train promises an odyssey of discovery from the azure coastlines to the lush jungles, and the bustling cities to the indigenous communities.

Let’s delve into the details of this modern marvel and rediscover the timeless allure of the Isthmus – a crossroads of both geography and heritage.

What is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec?

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is a Mexican region that includes the states of Oaxaca, Veracruz, Chiapas, and Tabasco.

This is the narrowest area between the Pacific Ocean and the Mexican Gulf. Only 221 kilometers separate the two oceans. 

During the first half of the 16th century, there was an effort by the Spanish conquistadors to find a strait connecting the two oceans.

This meant that in the explorations of conquest during the 16th century, this region was used as an inter-oceanic passage, with approximately two-thirds of the journey being made through the mighty Coatzacoalcos River and the rest by land.

Interoceanic passage

Again, since the days of Hernán Cortés, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has been considered a favorable route, first for an inter-oceanic canal, and from the 19th century, for an inter-oceanic railway line.

Its proximity to one of the busiest points of international trade in the United States gave it some advantage over the Panama route.

However, the isthmus of Panama is much narrower, which eventually led to the construction of the interoceanic passage through that Central American republic.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the new Interoceanic Train

Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the new Interoceanic Train
Beautiful natural views will be appreciated during this journey

In late December 2023, the Mexican President inaugurated “Line Z” of the Interoceanic Train of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a new railroad that has made its way through the southern region of the country after decades of neglect.

The Interoceanic Train passenger route, which connects the Gulf of Mexico with the Pacific Ocean, crosses an old corridor that has historically mobilized trains and that the López Obrador administration intends to reactivate through the project known as the Interoceanic Corridor.

Initially, the corridor was inaugurated by President Porfirio Díaz on January 23, 1907, to transport goods from the Pacific to the East Coast of the United States.

At its peak, the interoceanic crossing moved around 60 trains a day, and thanks to its incorporation, the cities of Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca, and Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz, were founded.

However, the Isthmus went through a period of economic and social crises that slowed down the region’s development, and the old corridor fell into decline with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914.

The return of passenger trains is one of the flagships of the current administration and it is expected that by the end of 2024, more than 3,000 kilometers of railroads will have been built in the country.

The Interoceanic Train of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec will have a connection with the Maya Train at one of its stations.

Interoceanic Train Map Route & Schedules

Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the new Interoceanic Train
Lines K, Z, and FA

The complete route of the Interoceanic Train comprises three lines: Z, FA, and K:

  • Line Z began passenger service on December 22, 2023
  • The Coatzacoalcos – Palenque route of Line FA is expected to start operations in March 2024
  • Meanwhile, Line K will operate until July 2024

Each of them crosses several cities in southeastern Mexico.

Route breakdown

  • FA Line: runs from El Chapo, in Veracruz, to Palenque Chiapas, and to Roberto Ayala, Tabasco. It will be fully inaugurated in March 2024
  • Line Z: runs from Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, to Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca. This route, which offers freight and passenger transportation, was inaugurated on December 2023
  • Line K: runs from Ixtepec, Oaxaca, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala. It will begin operating in July 2024

Isthmus of Tehuantepec Interoceanic Train: Ticket Prices

interoceanic train

The ticket price is calculated based on the mileage traveled and has three classes: tourist, executive, and managerial.

During national vacations and holidays, there will be 25% discounts for teachers and students in the tourist and executive classes.

  • Tourist: includes air-conditioning, restrooms, and space for luggage. The price for the trip from Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, (line Z) is around 460 Pesos
  • Executive: travel in leather seats, reclining and retractable tables, more space between each seat, wifi, and air conditioning. The price from Salina Cruz to Coatzacoalcos (line Z) is 610 Pesos
  • Managerial: air-conditioned train ride, individual leather armchairs, service bar, and snack area. The trip includes wifi, television, cafeteria, and restrooms. The ticket costs 1,500 Pesos from Salina Cruz to Coatzacoalcos (line Z)

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec Interoceanic Train also offers 50% discounts to people with disabilities and Senior citizens upon showing proper ID.

Where to buy tickets

Tickets can be purchased through the Interoceanic Passengers page.

The user will have to enter name, destination, time, category of travel, and an e-mail address where you will receive your ticket to print and a QR code.

Tickets can also be purchased with cards or cash at the kiosks located inside the stations.

The Interoceanic Train schedule in both directions runs from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with a travel time of almost 7 hours each way.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec Interoceanic Train: Conclusion

Without a doubt, the newly established rail line connecting the Pacific and Gulf coasts through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec marks a significant milestone in Mexico’s infrastructure development.

This venture not only facilitates efficient transportation of goods but also opens up new avenues for economic growth and regional connectivity.

As travelers and businesses explore the diverse landscapes and vibrant cultures along this route, they are bound to witness the rich tapestry of Mexico unfold before their eyes.

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, with its historical significance and natural beauty, is now more accessible than ever, offering a unique journey that blends modernity with tradition.

Whether you are a seasoned adventurer or a curious explorer, hop on board and immerse yourself in the wonders of this extraordinary region, where the convergence of history, commerce, and nature creates an unforgettable experience.

This new rail line will not only transform the way goods are transported but also invite individuals to embark on a captivating voyage through the heart of Mexico, forging connections that transcend borders and enrich the human experience.

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