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Rail News: Passenger Rail


Talgo will reopen its manufacturing plant in Milwaukee to refurbish rail cars under a new contract with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced yesterday.

The Spanish train manufacturer will return to Milwaukee’s Century City business park, where it once built high-speed trains for Wisconsin and Oregon. Under a $73 million contract over 56 months, the company will overhaul L.A. Metro cars that began service in the 1990s, according to various Milwaukee news media.

L.A. Metro’s board approved the contract last week, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported yesterday.

In his 2017 budget address to Milwaukee’s Common Council, Barrett noted that Talgo could have located anywhere in the United States, especially after Wisconsin state officials pulled out of a contract with the manufacturer to build the high-speed trains.

“Despite the hard feelings between Talgo and the state, the company recognizes its Milwaukee location is a great place to manufacture,” said Barrett in a prepared text of his speech.

In 2009, Wisconsin was awarded $810 million in federal high-speed rail funds by the U.S. Department of Transportation under former Gov. James Doyle. The state contracted with Talgo to build the two trainsets at a plant it leased in Milwaukee’s Century City development. Talgo also had the contract to build trainsets there for Oregon.

But in 2010, during his campaign for governor, Scott Walker promised to kill the high-speed rail line if elected. The line would have run from Chicago to Milwaukee and on to Madison, Wis. Prior to Walker’s inauguration in January 2011, the USDOT took back Wisconsin’s funding and distributed it to other states’ high-speed rail programs.

Later, the state refused to pay for the trains Talgo built for Wisconsin’s program, and Talgo sued the state.

Talgo has maintained a lease on the property in Milwaukee, and Barrett has maintained communications with the company.

The mayor, who Walker defeated in the race for the governor’s office in 2010 and again during Walker’s recall election in 2012, took the opportunity yesterday to take a dig at Walker.

“As hard as the governor worked to kill this project, we worked even harder to build a solid relationship with the company. And that has paid off,” Barrett said.