Train route closures can be damaging for Arizona’s economy

Train route closures can be damaging for Arizona’s economy
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 2:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Ferromex, one of Mexico’s main railway operators, has halted operations at numerous routes along the southern border and experts are worried about how the interruptions might impact states like Arizona.

In states like Texas and California, thousands of migrants have been using Ferromex Trains to pass through the border as a way to enter the U.S. and seek asylum.

On Tuesday, the company owned by GrupoMexico suspended operations for 60 of its train routes across the northern part of Mexico due to the thousands of migrants using the railway to enter the country.

Ferromex, owned by Transports, runs from Nogales, Mexico into Nogales, Arizona. Once in the U.S., those goods are then distributed across North America.

FerroMex Train route going into Nogales, Arizona.
FerroMex Train route going into Nogales, Arizona. (GrupoMexico Transports)

The company said in a statement following the suspension of the routes:

“Given the notable increase in migrants concentrated in various regions of the country and the severe risk posed to their integrity by the use of freight trains to be transported, Ferromex has temporarily stopped and so far 60 trains, equivalent to the capacity of 1,800 trucks, on routes to the north of the country, in the regions impacted by this social and humanitarian problem.”

GrupoMexico Transports

For years, migrants used the trains, also known as “La Bestia” or “The Beast.” However, the dramatic increase is causing safety concerns for not only rail workers but migrants as well.

The company made the decision to temporarily stop trains transporting goods as hundreds of injuries and deaths have been reported.

“In recent days, about half a dozen unfortunate cases of injuries or deaths were recorded among the groups of people who, individually or in families, including children, boarded freight trains on their route to the north, despite the serious danger that this entails.”

GrupoMexico Transport

According to Ana Gutièrrez, the Labor Market and Foreign Trade Coordinator for Instituto Mexicano para la Competitividad, although the state isn’t seeing huge amounts of migrants using the trains in Nogales, the disruptions happening in other places along the border could impact Arizona.

“A disruption between our trade and the flow of goods between our country and yours(U.S.), specifically Arizona would mean a hit of about a third of your imports,” Gutièrrez said.

Gutièrrez said closures elsewhere can mean big trouble throughout Arizona and the country. This is why she adds transporting goods is vital for both the U.S. and Mexico.

“It impacts both sides, on the side of what you consume, what you use, and the production system,” Gutièrrez said. “Also, how much consumption from Mexico, you (U.S.) are going to have guaranteed for what you produce in your economy.”

“This is always linked,” Gutièrrez said. “The economy is linked with immigration and it’s linked with the bi-national community.”

On Wednesday, GrupoMexico restored some of the routes in areas not impacted by the humanitarian crisis.

The company maintains as a priority the care of the integrity of migrants and analyzes the safety conditions on the impacted routes.

GrupoMexico Transports

“It’s temporarily these pauses in commercial exchange but they for sure have the possibility to have a more lasting impact that goes much further than the day, or the week or month these trains were stopped,” Gutièrrez said.

The statement adds:

1) Continuous monitoring has been implemented on the presence of migrants on the routes impacted by this social problem. Hour after hour, the risk conditions are evaluated and the restoration of safe rail traffic has been determined only on routes where there are no high-risk conditions.

2) The company maintains permanent communication with authorities of the federal government and the governments of the federal entities and reiterates its willingness to contribute to a solution that guarantees the continuity of operations and the provision of a safe and quality cargo service For users and for the environment.

GrupoMexico Transports

Gutièrrez said though some of the suspensions have been lifted, even the slightest closure or delay can cause a domino effect and impact the flow of goods between both countries.

“The value chains and production chains not only in the outer sector but In most manufacturing plants are deeply linked,” Gutièrrez said. “When you stop something in one of them, you have an impact on the rest of them. Mexico is a very important provider for all of these value chains and all of these production chains.”

Mayor Maldonado said he will keep monitoring the situation and talk with officials as needed. In the meantime, he is calling on Washington to visit parts of the southern border to get an actual look at the reality because according to Maldonado any disruption to the “legal immigration system” whether that be train routes being suspended or border crossing times doubling could be damaging to both countries’ economies.

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FerroMex statement that was released on Tuesday, Sept. 19th, 2023.
FerroMex statement that was released on Tuesday, Sept. 19th, 2023. (GrupoMexico Transports)
FerroMex Train statement that was released on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.
FerroMex Train statement that was released on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (GrupoMexico Transports)