Mexico’s New Maya Train Has Officially Launched, Connecting Cancún with Other Yucatán Destinations

A complete guide to the new Tren Maya, which will have 34 total stops in the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas. Here’s how to book tickets, how much it costs, and what to expect on board.

A blue Tren Maya high-speed train surrounded by greenery and with the destination 'Palenque' on the front car

The Tren Maya currently operates between Cancún and Palenque.

Courtesy of Tren Maya

It’s full steam ahead for Mexico’s newest tourism project, the Tren Maya (Maya Train) which celebrated its inaugural departure on December 15, 2023. The ambitious, multibillion-dollar project was announced in 2018 by then president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who envisioned a rail network spanning 965 miles across five states. At the end of 2023, President López Obrador saw his project come to life as the first train left the station connecting Cancún with the city of Campeche, 300 miles to the west.

Upon completion, which is slated for February 2024, the Tren Maya will feature 34 stops across the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas. For five years the train has been marketed as an efficient way to transport travelers to more remote and lesser-visited parts of Mexico and as a project that will generate jobs for Mexicans. According to López Obrador, the Tren Maya is “the most important public work in the world.” Fonatur, the national tourism fund for Mexico, projected that the railway could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs by 2030.

But tourists are finding it challenging to get the latest information about the train, including where it runs, how to buy tickets, and what sections are currently open. Here you’ll find everything we know right now about Mexico’s new Tren Maya.

What sections of the Tren Maya are currently operating?

At press time, the route currently available is from Cancún to Campeche, with an extension onward to Palenque. The stations that the train passes through include:

  • Cancún Airport
  • Leona Vicario
  • Nuevo Xcán
  • Valladolid
  • Chichén-Itzá
  • Izamal
  • Tixkokob
  • Teya Mérida
  • Umán
  • Maxcanú
  • Calkiní
  • Hecelchakán
  • Tenabo
  • San Francisco de Campeche
  • Escárcega
  • Palenque

Eventually the loop will head back up to Cancún, connecting the following stations:

  • Puerto Morelos
  • Playa del Carmen
  • Tulum
  • Tulum Aeropuerto
  • Felipe Carrillo Puerto
  • Limones-Chacchoben
  • Bacalar
  • Chetumal Aeropuerto
  • Nicolás B. Konhunlich
  • Xpujil
  • Calakmul
  • Centenario
Route map for Tren Maya

Route map for Tren Maya

Courtesy of Tren Maya

How do I buy tickets for the Tren Maya?

Train tickets are available on the Tren Maya website. The link will take you to a form where you select your desired route—right now the only route available is Cancún to Palenque—as well as your origin and destination stations, departure date, and time. After selecting your seat, you will then be prompted to the BBVA Mexico bank page to complete the payment.

Tickets aboard the Tren Maya are not cheap. A ticket in the regular tourist class from Cancún Airport to Palenque costs 2,118 pesos (US$122, based on current conversion rates). For the upgraded Premier cabin, tickets are 3,382 pesos (US$196). The route from Cancún to Palenque, which is a little more than 500 miles, takes nine hours.

For comparison, a bus ticket aboard ADO, one of the largest private bus companies in Mexico, between Cancún and Palenque is 1,300 pesos (US$75) and can take 13 hours. To rent a car from Cancún Airport costs as little as $7 USD per day, and the drive time is roughly 10 hours.

A rendering of the standard tourist Tren Maya interior

A rendering of the standard tourist train interior

Courtesy of Tren Maya

What is the onboard experience like on the Tren Maya?

For such a steep ticket price, you may be wondering what the onboard experience is like on the Tren Maya. Upon completion, there will be three types of rail service. Each train can reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. The cars feature large windows for ample natural light and landscape viewing, the seats have outlets for charging devices, and the train is equipped with Wi Fi.

The regular train service is called Xiinbal, which is the standard commuter type that is good for short trips. This train, which is already in operation, has a bar car with food services. A second train geared toward culinary travelers, Janal, which will launch later, will feature a dining car that serves traditional dishes from the Mayan region. A third option, P’atal, is also in the works and is being designed for long-distance travel with features such as reclining seats and sleeper cabins.

A rendering of the forthcoming sleeper car trains on the Tren Maya network

A rendering of the forthcoming sleeper car trains

Courtesy of Tren Maya

Currently Xiinbal is the only train service that is in operation and it features two classes: Tourist and Premier. The major difference is that Premier class has 2-1 seat configuration, while Tourist Class has a 2-2 seat configuration.

A controversial project

The Tren Maya project is a massive win for the López Obrador administration. However, it has drawn enormous criticism, including from environmental groups. More than 3 million trees were cut down to clear the way for the route, according to The Wall Street Journal, which has been a major blow to the natural habitats of local wildlife, like jaguars and spider monkeys. The train’s route will also bring greater exposure to Mayan communities that are deep in the jungle and have managed to evade the overtourism that has been a rising issue in the Mexican Caribbean.

Additionally, the train costs were also originally expected to be $7.5 billion, but they have ballooned to closer to an estimated $30 billion, according to the Financial Times.

Whatever one’s opinion is of the Tren Maya, there’s little denying that it will be a game changer for tourism to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and that it will have a dramatic effect on how travelers move around the region and where people choose to visit in the future.

Meagan Drillinger is a travel writer and Mexico expert who lives on the road full-time.
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