> America > Mexico
OF THE MEXICO CITY METRO
(Thanks to Marco
Monroy for this UrbanRail.Net contribution)
1: The Origin
The idea of building a subway in Mexico City began in the 1950s,
a time in which the capital city of Mexico had about 4 million inhabitants (today
it approaches 21 million). Old tramways criss-crossed the city, traffic jams
began to boost, and the bus system wasn't enough to fulfill all the commuter
demands. It was time for a modern mass transit solution. It was until 1967 when
the city government approved the construction of the first line. Officially,
on June 17, 1967, the construction of the "Metro" began... The approval
of its construction could be easily guessed: Mexico City would host the 1968
Olympic Games. However, the government focused in offering a mass transit option
for people living in the eastern and western sections of the megacity. The first
phase covered three lines: one having an east-west direction, another linking
north and south, and a third one departing from the northwest heading to downtown,
and then turning south, so it could cross the other two lines. This is what
is called a "ring solution" in which 3 lines cross at three different
points (rather than the "cross solution" in which two lines cross
in one point).
two years, the first subway line was opened
on September 4, 1969. This first section runs from Zaragoza in
the east, to Chapultepec in the west. At this beginning, the system had
only 16 stations and it was only 11.5 km long. People were really fascinated
with this new form of transportation; even a well-known TV news presenter was
marveled by the new "Metro": fast, clean and safe. In September 1970,
Line 2 was opened from Tacuba in
the northwest, to Tasqueña in the south, where the Xochimilco-Tlalpan
light rail line ran to the southeastern parts of the city (later the Xochimilco
light rail line would be entirely reformed, so it offered new stations and modern
trains). Line 2 opened with 22 stations, and 18 km of track. In November 1970,
the central section of Line 3, from Tlatelolco
to Hospital General was opened, adding 7 stations and 5.5 km. to the
network. At the same time, the extension of line 1 to Tacubaya was opened.
Line 1 reached its western terminus Observatorio in 1972. So, at the
end of this first stage, by 1975 Mexico City's subway had 40 km of track and
48 stations. It is important to notice that while digging into the soil of the
ancient Aztec capital, many important discoveries were made. The most important
was a little circular pyramid dedicated to the Aztec God of wind, Ehécatl.
Instead of moving it out and placing it in a museum, it was a good idea to leave
it in the place it was found. So, around this pyramid, the Pino Suárez
station (lines 1 and 2) was built. As a tribute, the pyramid was chosen as the
station's symbol. (See table of all opening dates)
TOP OF PAGE
an ever-changing capital city like Mexico City, it was evident that 42 km
of subway werent enough for an 11 million megalopolis. But after the
first phase of the subway system was completed, there were not sufficient
funds for builiding new routes, or adapting the trains for the systems
growing demands. At that time, the first subway accident occured: in 1975,
two trains crashed at Viaducto station. The official reason: human
failure; however, security systems werent well developed at that time.
Further action was taken throughout the years; because of such actions, the
Mexico City subway hasnt had another train crash, making it one of the
safest systems in the world.
In 1977, the Metro Master Plan (Plan Maestro del Metro), was presented.
It projected a 15-line, 315 km system that could be finished by the year 2015.
Many of the actual subway routes follow that original plan, however, some routes
had to change their alignment, due to the geological conditions of the city
(remember that Mexico City was built over a lake, and the aztec empire once
stood on this site).
After sufficient funding was available (thanks to the late 1970s oil boom),
it was decided to extend line 3, north and
south. In 4 stages, from 1978 to 1980, it was extended north to La Raza,
and then to Indios Verdes, its definite northern terminus; to the south,
from Centro Médico and then to Zapata. In 1983, line
3 reaches its definite terminus at Universidad.
But three lines werent enough for the city. Thus, at the beginning of
1980, construction began on line 4 and line
5. Line 4 was planned as a north-south
route, running on a viaduct, serving the eastern part of the city. Line
5 should link the eastern suburbs of Mexico city, via the airport
and the new northeast section of the Circuito Interior (inner ring road), to
the Politechnic School in the northwest. In August 1981, the first section of
line 4, from Martín Carrera
to Candelaria was opened; the second section (Candelaria Santa
Anita) opened a year later. As of line 5,
the first section (Pantitlán Consulado) opened in
December 1981; the extension to La Raza in July 1982, and two months
later the section to Politécnico.
interesting discovery was made while building line
4. While digging the soil for building the foundations of Talismán
station, the remains of a mammoth (dated 10,000 B.C.) were found. Today, these
remains are shown permanently in Talismán station, and the mammoth
was chosen as the station symbol.
subway wasnt stopping its permanent expansion: the first section of line
6 (an east-west route linking the northern parts of the city) was
inaugurated in December 1983, and line 7
would open in 3 stages (from Tacuba to Barranca del Muerto) during
1984 and 1985. Line 7 is the deepest line
of Mexico Citys subway: some stations stand at 35 m below street level
(not so deep compared to some European systems). Finally, two more sections
were opened in this expansion stage: an extension on line
1 between Zaragoza and Pantitlán (so this would
be linked to line 5), and a two station extension of line
2, reaching its definite terminus Cuatro Caminos. Cuatro
Caminos was the first station built outside the Distrito Federal (Mexico
Citys official limit), trying to be a transportation gateway
to the northern suburbs.
the end of 1985, the subway had 105 stations, distribuited on a 110 km. long
network... not bad for a 10-year period!
TOP OF PAGE
New Routes to the Suburbs
the next three years, more sections within the city limits were opened: the
second section of line 6 (Instituto
del Petróleo Martín Carrera) in 1986; line
9 (a parallel route to avoid saturation of line 1) in 1987, and
the north section of line 7 (Tacuba
El Rosario) in November 1988... but what about line 8? Yes, in
1989 there were 8 lines, numbered 1 to 7 and line 9. What happened to line
8 history is a case in which the original alignment had to be changed
because of geological reasons. Originally it was planned to run from Indios
Verdes station, via the city center (the Zócalo), and then
heading east to Ejército Constitucionalista in the eastern limits.
If such route were built, several buildings, dating from the 17th
century would had been affected (even historical buildings like the Cathedral,
and the Templo Mayor aztec ruins). On the other hand, the southeastern parts
of the city, as well as the eastern suburbs wouldnt benefit from a subway
The Master Plan had a serious problem: no route was projected to run beyond
the Distrito Federal limits; therefore, the terminals would lay at the state
limit, and other means of transportation should be used in the suburbs. For
a city having 20 million inhabitants, 40 miles long and 25 miles wide, having
a subway within some limits wasnt admissible. Thus, the Plan was modified
to include extended routes into the suburbs. The first of these routes was planned
as a suburban line to the eastern suburbs, but it was decided to operate as
a light subway line, running on steel wheels instead of rubber tyres.
Line A, from Pantitlán to La
Paz, was born.
A was inaugurated in August 1991. Distance between stations is the
main distinctive feature of this line: an average distance of 1700m, compared
to the 1100m of the urban lines. However, it proved to be a good
transportation solution, considering that pollution in the area, as well as
traffic jams had been getting worse.
the alignment of line 8 was revised, and
a new route was proposed. A first stage would run through the city center, but
away from the historic area; then it would head east, then south through Iztacalco
ward, and finally east to Iztapalapa ward. The solution was approved, and construction
began in 1991. In August 1994, the longest subway section ever built (19 stations
in 20 km) was opened, linking the southeastern neighborhoods to the city center.
densly-inhabited area lies in the northeastern part of the metropolitan area:
the city of Ecatepec. So, after line 8 was
completed, line B
(originally line 10) went into construction stage. Because of financial problems,
the first section was finished five years later, in December 1999, from Buenavista
(Mexico Citys train station) to Villa de Aragón. Eventually
the second section to Ciudad Azteca could be finished on 30 November
2000. (See new pictures!)
that time, the subway network should have 11 lines, 175 stations, and 200 km
of double track.
Metro finally wants to fulfill its primary task of becoming the metropolitan
area transportation backbone.
TOP OF PAGE
spring the revision of the Master Plan was presented. It presents the future
Metro network layout for the year 2020, which includes extensions to some
of the lines, as well as new routes. One interesting feature is that 9 light
rail lines, with a private right-of- way have been considered, to link the
suburbs to the main subway lines. In 20 years, there will be 17 metro lines
(13 urban and 4 suburban), and 10 light-rail lines. It is important to say
that the potential of commuter rail hasnt been considered, so there
is an opportunity to link towns in a 100 km radius to the capital, creating
a multimodal transportation hub.
Of course there are short term plans: in the next three years, there are plans
to build 22 km of new routes.
7 will be extended to the south, from Barranca del Muerto
to San Jerónimo (4 stations).
8 will be extended to the north and to the south. To the north,
it should reach Indios Verdes station on line
3, linking with line 5 at
Misterios, and line 6 at La
Villa Basílica (6 stations). To the south, an extension will be
built from Escuadrón 201 to Acoxpa (8 stations).
And what happens to the section from Atlalilco to Constitución
de 1917 ofpresent line 8? It will
be part of the planned line 12, a new east-west line linking the
southern parts of the city. This line will head to Mixcoac (change
for line 7), crossing line
2 at Ermita and line 3
at Zapata. A new station will be built at the crossing of lines 8
and 12, and part of the section between Escuadrón 201 and Atlalilco
will become a linking spur between the lines.
is expected that these extensions will increase the subway ridership by 1,000,000
persons per day. This way, the Mexico City subway tries to fulfill the demanding
transportation needs of 22 million inhabitants, and become a reliable, safe
and clean backbone of the biggest city of the world.
Detailed Metro Opening
Dates can be found here.
> America >