Officials in the Dominican Republic have announced the creation of a high speed rail line that will connect Punta Cana, a resort area in the east of the country, with the historic capital city of Santo Domingo.
Construction for the privately funded project is slated to start at year’s end and cost $3 billion.
Jose Alberto Ares, president of Empresas Ares, which is tasked with the project’s construction, told the Dominican weekly newspaper El Tiempo that it will take 58 minutes to travel between Punta Cana and Santo Domingo, and the fare will cost less than a bus ticket.
The project, Ares said, will consist of five phases, the first connecting the capital city of Santo Domingo to Santiago de los Caballeros, the country’s second-largest city. The second phase, which comprises six stations across a 93-mile route, is the one that will connect the capital and Punta Cana, a journey that can take 2.5 hours by car.
This is a private capital project, whose investors guarantee that the funds for its development are available. Ares specified that this colossal work will begin in Santo Domingo and will culminate in Punta Cana.
He explained that the project will begin with the first phase, which includes a line from Santo Domingo to Santiago, but that he is sure that line 2 in the Eastern region will be completed before the Northern region ling.
Ares said that three years would be the maximum time to complete this transportation system that would connect the capital with the eastern part of the country. This is so, as he explained, because the ground in the East is flatter, while that of Cibao has mountains and rivers which will make the development of a line to Santiago slower work, especially if it needs tunnels, cuttings, and bridges,
Phase 2 of the project will have 6 modern stations, which will have food courts, cinemas, banks, children’s areas, recreational areas and supermarkets. Likewise, pharmacies, GOB points, heliports, hotels, museum parking lots and restaurants. The route will be 151 kilometers.
The first station will be in Santo Domingo, the second in Juan Dolio, and then in San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana, Chavón, Higüey until ending in Punta Cana.
Ares assured that the travel route from Santo Domingo to Punta Cana would be done in 58 minutes, and that the price will be cheaper than the current bus fare.
The project will include connection with ports and free zones and nd also collective transportation in metropolitan areas with motorcycle tracks to feed the train, which will provide part of the passenger service, as well as cargo movement.
The CEO of the company promoting this mega project indicated that this work would increase the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 3 points, and that it would “enormously” benefit the inhabitants of the Eastern region, because it would directly and indirectly impact around 300 thousand people.
The announcement of this important work was made in the Alianza Juvenil Assembly Hall, in La Romana, attended by authorities, political businessmen and members of civil society.
Linda Welch, owner and CEO of Cincinnati-based Blue Ash Travel, recognizes the potential of the train route to Punta Cana, an area in which she specializes.
“There might also be some interest from guests at Punta Cana all-inclusive resorts who are looking to head to Santo Domingo to experience the history and culture of the capital city of the Dominican Republic,” Welch said.
“The hope would be that the train system would feel extremely safe, clean, and affordable. Given an effective marketing campaign, I think there could be some interest from the tourists in this new train system.”
Sources: Travel Weekly, El Tiempo.