THE AVENUE JANUARY 4, 2011
This played out over the holidays so I’m a bit late in coming to it, but Spanish train manufacturer Talgo is converting their new plant in Milwaukee to a maintenance facility set to employ far fewer people following the cancellation of the planned high speed rail line to Madison (and eventually to the Twin Cities) by new Gov. Scott Walker (R).
Walker ran against the rail plan and expressed concerns that a federal grant of $810 million would commit the state to unaffordable maintenance costs once the route was up and running. That money along with about $400 million from Ohio, where a similar scenario played out, has been rescinded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and re-awarded to other states still pursuing high speed rail.
One of the states receiving some additional funds was Washington, where Talgo has a corporate office and another yard to service its trains already running on the Eugene to Vancouver, via Portland and Seattle, route. A good question reported by longtime Northwest transportation observer C.B. Hall is whether that region’s commitment to high speed rail could lead to actual Talgo manufacturing jobs in the wake of Wisconsin’s punt? Their trains are certainly more akin to planes than automobiles.