Bruce Murphy

The Last Train from Talgo

Talgo moved its last trains from Milwaukee last night, ending this city’s dream of becoming a hub for state-of-the-art rail transit.

By - May 29th, 2014 11:20 am
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The Talgo Tranisets just prior to leaving Milwaukee, forever. Photo by Garrick Jannene .

The Talgo Tranisets just prior to leaving Milwaukee, forever. Photo by Garrick Jannene .

Yes, the train has left the station. Talgo, the international company based in Spain and the U.S., which had created a facility to build trains in Milwaukee, closed up the shop on the north side of the city last night as its last trainsets rolled out of town.

Talgo brought in a crew from Amtrak to help transfer the trainsets to Amtrak’s maintenance facility in Beech Grove, Indiana. The two trains, which were once going to be part of the proposed, high-speed rail line connecting Chicago and Milwaukee to Madison and Minneapolis, are likely to be sold to another state, possibly Michigan. Michigan’s Department of Transportation issued a request for proposals in March for ready-to-operate trains capable of 110 mph speeds for its Detroit-to-Chicago service. Talgo was the only company to respond.

All of the cars’ seats and floors were wrapped in plastic, and the staff had to wear booties inside. They have yet to be used and will be sold as new. Most of the cars are configured as commuter rail style stock with rows of bench seats.

Talgo had a contract to build trains for Wisconsin under the administration of Gov. Jim Doyle, but Gov. Scott Walker cancelled it. After originally telling Talgo he would still use the trainsets for the Hiawatha line from Milwaukee to Chicago, Walker changed his mind. Walker and the Republican-led Legislature failed to build a maintenance facility for the trainsets (planned for the Menomonee Valley), making it impossible to put them into service. The state has since refused to pay Talgo for the trainsets.

Talgo CEO Antonio Perez blasted the governor in a story by Urban Milwaukee, complaining that “Gov. Walker does not keep his word. It’s like we’re talking about a Third World country, where people don’t have respect for their contracts.”

Talgo has sued the state for breach for contract, claiming it is owed $65.9 million. If the company prevails, taxpayers would pay Talgo the money and still forfeit the trains.

Our photos capture the trainsets leaving the station. Next time you see them they’ll be painted Michigan Wolverine blue rather than Badger red.

The Last Train from Talgo

More about the History of Talgo in Milwaukee

Categories: Business, Photo Gallery

19 thoughts on “The Last Train from Talgo”

  1. wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Whose dream was that? Not many in this state. We like roads and airplanes. Put our money there. who has followed the china mess, the Chunnel, Ca.’s mess. Thank God that Walker saved us from that black hole
    Walker has saves us billions with the medicaid mess that will blow away education in this state if adopted and the exchanges that Maryland, Oregon lost hundreds of millions on theirs.
    Thank God fro Scott Walker that he did not listen to Bruce Murphy and his acolytes. Sure hope that Bruce does not try to talk him into the new Arenas, The mismanaged Wis. Center, the parks and museum tax.

  2. David says:

    It was my dream and the dream of many people I know. WCD, you’re on the wrong side of history. We do put our money in roads, a lot of money. Too much money. No one ever asks tough questions of the road builders – it’s a scam. We will build an arena, expand the undersized convention center, and I believe find a creative ways to fund cultural amenities. You’re either with us or against us. By the way, did you have a stroke or is your grammar that bad?

  3. PMD says:

    WCD, do you read much? If you do, you might have noticed a recent survey that says Wisconsin experiences brain drain partly because of its lack of alternatives to driving.

    • 60 percent of respondents said they would be at least “somewhat more likely” to stay in Wisconsin after graduation if they could live in a place where they could get around without driving.

    • 47 percent of all respondents said that living in a place after graduation where there are options other than driving is “very important.” An additional 35 percent said that having transportation options was “somewhat important” and only 14 percent said that it was “not important.”

    • 84 percent of respondents said that it was either “very important” or “somewhat important” for them to have transportation options other than a car to get around.

    This is hardly new information. Young people all over America state that good public transit is a key issue for them when they choose a place to live. Doesn’t it make sense to keep smart young people from leaving the state after they graduate? Don’t you worry even a little bit about brain drain? Or does intense and irrational hatred of mass transit prevent you from thinking about brain drain?

  4. Art Hackett says:

    Did anyone get pictures? Nudge nudge, wink Wink. Candid Photographs, say no more, say no more…. Someone might want to make a political commercial? A nudge is as good as a wink? Advertising? say no more, say no more.

  5. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Speak text. Amenities while kids can’t read, top ten most violent crime, 400 plus abandoned houses, 57% unemployment. Great idea.
    PMD baloney from the Left. Brain drain in Milwaukee cause of bad managemetn, Waukesha other counties doing just fine.

  6. PMD says:

    That’s all you’ve got? Brain drain because of bad management? First of all, we are talking about Wisconsin, which is a state, not Milwaukee, which is a city. And do you honestly believe that someone graduates from Marquette or UWM or MSOE and says, “Gee, I’d love to stay in Milwaukee, but it has bad management, so I’m moving to Waukesha”? I guarantee you that has never happened. You don’t make a lick of sense.

  7. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    PMD, right all the good growth has come in Sha. As far as the train from chi to StLouis, not even started. Call me when done.

  8. PMD says:

    So graduates of universities in Milwaukee are moving in droves to Waukesha? Where’s your proof? And again, for the third time, I am talking about brain drain at the state level, not the city level. College graduates are leaving the state (so there goes your theory that they are all moving to Waukesha).

  9. Mike B says:

    @WCD Seattleite and Washingtonian here. We’re gladly taking your best and brightest on OUR 7 Talgo trains that our government paid for (ya know, by keeping a contract to the end). Might want to get on fixing that and removing your head from your butt before you don’t have any of us kids left to pay for your medicare and social security.

    Oh, and have fun building that Zoo Interchange. $1.7 BILLION is a lot of money for a couple miles of road. That would have kept Amtrak Talgo service going for roughly 170 years.

    (I apologize to those here with sense. Where do folks like WCD come from? And why can’t they type?)

  10. Raul says:

    That 3rd world thinking that Talgo CEO Antonio Perez points to is alive and well in the comments section above. And it’d be as futile to argue about it to “third worlders” as it would to be with people who cannot see how foolish Walker’s decision is.

  11. tim haering says:

    Bruce, do any of these trains go to Clarksville? Thanks for putting Mickey Dolenz in my head. Rooby roo!

  12. Eric says:

    Leave it to the Republicans, taking us back to 1950. No new ideas, amend no new jobs!

  13. Andrey says:

    Thank the Obama administration for ruining 20 years of bipartisan planning.

  14. Robert R says:

    Considering there just was an article on this very site documenting that millennials are moving into cities, and Milwaukee is one city showing significant growth, the statement that young people are flocking to Waukesha is objectively false. Unless you have reason to doubt the census bureau.

    Counter-arguments are fine, but support them with facts, not fantasy.

  15. David says:

    I grew up in the suburbs and moved to the city as a young adult. I’ve been here since 1990 and I am absolutely amazed at how this city continues to defy the odds and transform itself. Great Lakes cities were left for dead, but Milwaukee continues to fight. We fight in spite of those that constantly bash and trash our city. Many of those people are our brothers, sisters, friends and family that live in communities surrounding Milwaukee. I don’t understand! I recently went on a trip up north with a bunch of HS friends from Lake Country. It was non-stop the entire weekend…… Milwaukee is a dump, crime infested, racial slurs, blah, blah, blah, etc. Parroting whatever they heard on talk radio that week. They would even tell people they met up there how horrible they think Milwaukee is. Much like the functionally literate guy from WCD.
    The city doesn’t fit their narrative. It’s a threat, and they will do anything to squeeze and sabotage all attempts at making this city reach its full potential. For some reason, cities produce and attract moderate, sensible, accepting and reasonable people. And they create exciting diverse and lively places. It is the far right that is most threatened along with their mouthpieces at organizations like WCD. I love the communities in and around metro Milwaukee…. I grew up in one. Milwaukee has its problems, but these problems belong to all of us, and it’ll take all of us to solve them. Remember, the suburban way of life was made possible with subsidies (FHA loans, GI Bill, billions of dollars for the interstate systems, subsidies for utility infrastructure, and not to mention the poaching of Milwaukee companies through tax deferments and free land, etc,) This was only possible by the generosity of city tax payers and the Feds. It’s time for WCD to shut up now.

  16. JohnC says:

    Wisconsin already paid Talgo $50+million for the two trains. Now iTalgo wants another $60+ million from Wisconsin. And then it wants to keep the trains and sell them – again – to another state, maybe Michigan. Now there’s healthy sense of entitlement! Nice work if you can get it…

  17. Dave Reid says:

    @JohnC Talgo makes a pretty strong case that the State of Wisconsin did not complete the contract for the trains. I’m pretty sure if I only pay Ford for 24 months instead of the 36 owed on a new car that somebody will come repo the car.

  18. John O"Neill Sr. says:

    The CEO of Talgo had no idea that his “behaving like a third world country” comment would be taken as a compliment by the Wisconsin Tea Party f/k/a the Wisconsin Republican Party.

  19. grover5995 says:

    Our country needs an integrated network of highway, rail and air transport. There are thousands of miles of freight rail lines in good condition that could easily support a few daily passenger trains between major cities up to 300-400 miles. Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha Corridor is one of the most popular AMTRAK routes in the country. These trainsets could have been a major upgrade, but Republican lawmakers often refuse to help areas that support another party. Sometimes ideology gets to be pretty expensive!

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