Nation & World

January 22, 2014

Crossing the border on high-speed rail

A Texas legislator pushes plan for rail link that would cut travel time between Monterrey, Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas, to under two hours

Imagine traveling between San Antonio, Texas, and the northern industrial hub of Monterrey in less than two hours on a high-speed rail link.

Passengers would pre-clear customs and immigration at the respective terminals, making a border stop unnecessary.

That’s the dream of Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, who last week brought Mexican officials and Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin to the office of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to discuss the proposal.

There is high traffic – both ground and air – between Monterrey and South Texas. Monterrey, after all, is Mexico’s wealthiest and most “Americanized” city. Many regiomontanos, as Monterrey residents call themselves, are for more likely to visit Texas than travel to Mexico City.

Currently, it takes about five hours driving between San Antonio and Monterrey, that is, if there are no tie-ups at the border.

According to this article about the meeting with Foxx, the project would be binational, but the Mexicans seem to be moving faster. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced a railway initiative on taking office on Dec. 1, 2012, and railway reforms before Congress may open up the sector to private investment.

Cuellar’s plan got backing this week from Henry Cisneros, a four-time former mayor of San Antonio and former Cabinet member under President Bill Clinton.

On a visit to Monterrey, a local newspaper quoted Cisneros as saying, "Anything we can do to strengthen the bonds of transportation, transportation systems at the border … is for the welfare of the region.”

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