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.
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.
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
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Why Talgo Stays in Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 12th, 2019
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Talgo Lands $139 Million Contract - Jeramey Jannene - May 14th, 2019
- Eyes on Milwaukee: New Locomotives for Amtrak - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 1st, 2017
- The Return of Talgo - Graham Kilmer - Jul 17th, 2017
- Plenty of Horne: Welcome Back, Talgo USA! - Michael Horne - Nov 25th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Talgo Coming Back to Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 26th, 2016
- Op-Ed: Walker’s High Speed Folly - Spencer Black - May 26th, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: The Twisted Tale of Talgo - Bruce Murphy - Aug 25th, 2015
- The Last Train from Talgo - Bruce Murphy - May 29th, 2014
- Back in the News: Michigan May Get Talgo Trains - Bruce Murphy - Apr 14th, 2014
Read more about History of Talgo in Milwaukee here