MEXICO CITY, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Mexico published a decree on Monday that gives preference to trains transporting passengers over those transporting freight on railways under concession.
The government, which has been trying to build out public infrastructure, signaled the move last week, pushed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He has made passenger train travel a key pillar of his transportation and economic policies.
Freight train companies operating have until Jan. 15, 2024, to submit proposals to the Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation outlining on how their railways can be adapted to offer passenger transportation.
Lopez Obrador said this month that if the companies decide not to provide passenger service, the government would do so. According to the decree, other companies could also start providing these services on concessioned railways.
"On the general railway routes under concession, preference will be given to the provision of the public passenger railway service," according to the decree, published in the country's official gazette.
"The public railway freight transport service will be respected in terms of the provisions of the respective concession."
Mexico's railway infrastructure, covering much of the country's vast terrain and connecting to the United States, is almost exclusively used for freight transportation.
Lopez Obrador added that over 20,000 km (12,400 miles) of railway could be opened up for passenger services.
(Reporting by Raul Cortes Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by David Gregorio)