Spanish train manufacturer Talgo last week sued Gov. Scott Walker and state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb, claiming the state stiffed the trainmaker to the tune of $4.6 million.

The Nov. 2 lawsuit -- which follows a notice of default sent by Talgo to the state in July -- stems from a contract signed by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle with Talgo to build two train sets for the state for a planned high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee. But Republican Walker opposed the rail line and turned away $810 million in federal money that would have turned the plan into reality.

After the high-speed rail line fell through, the state had planned to use the new trains to replace aging train sets on Amtrak's Chicago-Milwaukee Hiawatha line, which carried nearly 820,000 passengers last year.

Talgo completed making the train sets, then told the state they were available for “pre-revenue service testing,” according to the lawsuit. But Talgo says the state claims that Talgo is responsible for the testing. Now the train sets are being warehoused.

Under the contract, the state was also to build a maintenance facility for the trains in Madison. In the meantime, Talgo build a temporary maintenance facility in Milwaukee. But the Republican-led Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee in March refused to authorize funding for the facility called for in the contract.

In a statement, Talgo CEO Antonio Perez says:

“We invested in the state of Wisconsin by building a manufacturing facility in Milwaukee and creating manufacturing jobs. We built the trains and otherwise performed our obligations under our agreements with the state of Wisconsin. In return, rather than being 'open for business,' the state used every conceivable excuse, whether fair or not and whether lawful or not, to ensure that Talgo did not receive what it bargained for, including by refusing to pay for the trains that Talgo completed. I don’t see how any company would in the future choose to do business with the state of Wisconsin when the state has shown that it cannot be trusted to honor contracts that it signed.”

For more on the state's train situation, here's a story I wrote in January.

Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.

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(18) comments

tomtom
tomtom

maybe Talgo's problem was that they didn't contribute money to Walker's election campaign or not enough money. What a disaster Walker has been.

bookman21
bookman21

Talgo made the mistake of trusting Walker to be honest and ethical.

knittingnancy
knittingnancy

Can Walker's personal property, i.e., his house and cars, be taken as recompense or do the Wisconsin taxpayers get stuck for stupid's mess? Talgo certainly should not have to be the loser. There will be no more takers on the "open for business" as long as the state is stuck with the republcan fools.

Demon Teacher
Demon Teacher

Is "train set" the best term for these multi-ton rolling behemoths? Sounds like something built by Lionel rather than Talgo.

Roundtable
Roundtable

That's one heck of ALOT of money to lose to this company. Geez.

bookman21
bookman21

It would be easier to pay if Walker had not refused $800 million.

Beingbucky
Beingbucky

Classic, speaking of Obama (which we weren't) were you the driver who enthusiastically gave me the finger while I was holding an Obama sign along W. Johnson this morning? If so,best wishes to you and yours as well.

Observer5
Observer5

Scooter doing something shady and illegal? Can't be, he's a boy scout.

Gierahn
Gierahn

Absolutely justified. I hope they win their case. This whole default with the Talgo deal could be part of why Wisconsin is so behind in economic recovery. Who would want to invest in a state that has such a lousy record of keeping its word? Refusing the train money was the dumbest thing that Walker did. May this Walker "success" story be oft repeated and never duplicated.

Looks like the only job creation coming from this administration is in legal services.

aspyder
aspyder

"Who would want to invest in a state that has such a lousy record of keeping its word?"

I don't know. It was Jim Doyle that refused to pay the money we legally owed Minnesota in reciprocity taxes. I guess he was as good as his word also.

classic
classic

What take the money and then the state has to pay for its operations for the next 30 years. The move by Doyle to even bring high speed rail was the dumbest move I have seen.

bookman21
bookman21

Progress often confuses the uninformed.

bobjoe
bobjoe

yet ANOTHER walker success!!!

there are so many this is getting old

aspyder
aspyder

Yeah, It's almost as much fun as watching the 'green energy' companies that fall like dominoes for Obama.

bookman21
bookman21

Earth BAD! Big oil GOOD!

classic
classic

And obama has been such a success and your doyle ran the state into the ground.

bookman21
bookman21

Please explain to me what Obama has to do with Walker refusing to honor a legitimate contract.

Solstice
Solstice

Who didn't see this coming?? What makes it funnier is the judge who has drawn the case-- Hon. Juan Colas! Here comes the request for judicial substitution. I hope they draw Sumi.

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