Central Americans headed for the U.S. may be looking to other modes of transport in the future, as Mexico’s “The Beast” train is slated to triple its speed in the next five years.
Heavily used and a common source of injury to those catching a ride illegally, “La Bestia,” as it is known in Spanish, will receive a $150 million makeover courtesy of Ferrocarriles Chiapas-Mayab (FCCM).
Improvements are reported to include increasing speed from 10 to 30 kilometers (18.6 mi) per hour to deter illegal riders, changes to metal plates intended to prevent tampering and derailments, and installing surveillance cameras to monitor activity around the tracks. Though FCCM acquired 370 miles of railway in 2013, the Mexican government has not yet approved transfer from the previous operator.
Deputy director general for FCCM, Maria Isabel Pons, told the Mexican newspaper Reforma that some people will remove pieces of track in order to get the train to stop so they can hop on, but this then has the potential to cause train derailments.
Last August, a derailment of “The Beast” cost the lives of at least five and injured 18 of the 250 Central Americans who hitched a ride, according to the Associated Press. Seventeen of those taken to hospitals were Hondurans, ranging in age from 19 to 54, as listed on a release Mexican official Felipe Puente put out. While the tracks were rebuilt in 2009 and recently inspected, Mexican officials asserted that shifted rails, due to heavy rains, contributed to the derailment.
In response to the proposed rail improvements, Breitbart Texas border security expert Sylvia Longmire stated:
One has to ask why Mexico hasn’t already taken this step, considering it would have helped from a commerce perspective to get freight to the U.S. in a quicker fashion. However, it’s an encouraging sign that the Mexican government is willing to invest in a concrete step that would take one enormous transportation option away from illegal immigrants heading north, and one that could also save many lives.
On the other hand, there’s nothing to say that migrants won’t try to board and ride the train anyway, possibly making it even more dangerous. Migrants would also be forced to seek other transportation options that could be even more dangerous; however, more likely than not, the speeding up ‘The Beast’ could potentially be a big deterrent.