Mexico taking new bids on high-speed train concession derailed by favoritism allegations

Mexico began accepting new bids on a multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project Wednesday, two months after the concession was abruptly canceled amid allegations of favoritism.

The planned 130-mile (210-kilometer) line between Mexico City and the central city of Queretaro would be the first of its kind in Latin America, reaching speeds of up to 186 mph (300 kph).

Officials say it will cut what is now a 2 1/2-hour trip by car to just under an hour and carry 27,000 passengers daily.

A decision is expected in late July.

The original winner of the $3.7 billion concession was a Chinese-led consortium that had submitted the only bid and included a subsidiary of Mexico's Grupo Higa. But days after the announcement in early November, the government cancelled the concession.

Local media reported that another subsidiary of Grupo Higa had built and was the registered owner of the $7 million home of President Enrique Pena Nieto's wife, former actress Angelica Rivera. She later announced she would sell her stake in the mansion.

In December, Mexico's Transportation Department said it would be impossible for Grupo Higa to participate in the new bidding due to "public opinion."

But this week the government said there was no legal impediment to the company taking part.