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By Daina Beth Solomon
MEXICO CITY, April 30 (Reuters) - A consortium of companies controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim won a bid to build the second section of the government’s $8 billion “Mayan Train” project planned for southern Mexico, officials said on Thursday.
Slim’s Operadora Cicsa S.A. de C.V. and FCC Construccion S.A., a Spanish firm majority-owned by his Inversora Carso S.A. de C.V., submitted an 18.55 billion peso ($771.92 million) bid, according to the National Fund for Tourism Promotion, or Fonatur.
Fonatur said the Cicsa and FCC Construccion proposal represented the best deal on price and quality in a contest that included 14 other contenders, and that the United Nations Office for Project Services supported the decision.
Deemed essential infrastructure by the government, the rail project is a top priority of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who hopes it will be a major generator of jobs in the country’s poorer south.
Fonatur said construction on the second section of the rail line, which is set to run 146 miles (235 km) between Escarcega and Calkini in the state of Campeche, would begin on May 12, subject to approval from the health ministry.
Last month, officials awarded the contract for the first construction phase to a consortium led by Portugal’s Mota-Engil and China Communications Construction Company.
Operadora Cicsa and FCC Construccion have also jointly bid to build the line’s third segment, submitting a bid for 12.7 billion pesos ($529.17 million).
The 1,470-km (913-mile) rail project is designed to connect tourist hot spots from southern Chiapas state to the Yucatan Peninsula along the Atlantic coast, including the popular Maya ruins of Palenque and Chichen Itza to the beach resort Cancun. ($1 = 24.0000 Mexican pesos) (Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Additional reporting by Raul Cortes; Editing by Dan Grebler)