I just read an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal about how Talgo Inc. is cleared to sue the state of Wisconsin for train sets that were built back in 2010 to replace the 30+ year old train sets being operated by Amtrak.
As a little bit of background, in 2009 Wisconsin Governor Doyle signed an agreement with Talgo Inc to produce two train sets, and setup a maintenance facility in Milwaukee. As per the contract, Talgo built the facility and the train sets, and was ready to employ 800 to 1000. However, in 2010 the Walker administration made true on a campaign promise and cancelled not only the construction of the Milwaukee to Madison high speed rail line, but also refused to take delivery of the train sets citing that the WISDOT did not certify the train sets for entry into service. However, to me this is more of a tactic to avoid full delivery and liability
So on May 19th, 2014 Talgo was cleared to sue the State of Wisconsin for $66 million (essentially the cost of producing the train sets). Which to it seems to me be a pretty clear cut case. So what are Wisconsin’s choices? First, choice would be putting off the court case until after the November Governors election and let the next administration deal with the problem. Of course, there is the option to fight the case in court. However there is another possibility…
I estimate that Railflyer would need about $50 million in start-up financing. What about backing Railflyer? Not only would a lawsuit be taken off the books, but a place is found for the train sets. After all, Talgo will what they really want and that is selling the train sets providing support maintenance. Also, the airlines increase the reliability of their Milwaukee to Chicago operations, and Wisconsin even saves $6 million over the next ten years since Railflyer would not require the $600,000 in subsidies that the State of Wisconsin currently pays Amtrak to operate the Hiawatha Service?
So when do we start?