Talgo files claim for trains

Talgo Inc. filed a claim with the state last week seeking $65.9 million, accusing the Walker administration of failing to live up to a deal to purchase two sets of the company’s trains.

Among other things, the company accused the state of inventing a dispute over testing the trains it built to get out of the contract and damaging its reputation through “the State’s personnel continually defaming Talgo’s professional reputation in every conceivable forum.”

If the Claims Board rejects the claim, the company can then sue for the money, the state told WisPolitics.com, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

The Department of Administration referred requests for comment to the Department of Transportation, which released the following statement:

“The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has worked to honor the purchase contract for the Talgo trains. To date, the state has invested more than $52 million on two trains but the trains are not completed. They do not meet specifications, are not ADA compliant and have not been tested. We’re waiting for delivery of completed trains that will provide the state with ownership of an asset for which public dollars were used.

The department stands by the data and conclusions it provided to the Joint Finance Committee in consideration of funding for the construction of a maintenance facility.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters the state followed proper procedure to get out of the contract that was signed by then-Gov. Jim Doyle, including exercising a clause that allowed lawmakers to nix the deal by refusing to approve money for the project.

“I mean, it seems pretty straightforward to me, but I guess they’re intending to press their case,” Vos said.

Walker campaigned in 2010 against the proposed high-speed rail line between Madison and Milwaukee that was to include cars built by the Spanish company. The line was nixed before Walker took office, but work continued on the cars, which were to be used on the Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Talgo argued in the filing DOT quietly shopped the trains to other states as it looked for ways to get out of the contract. The company also claims the state has to immediately repay $70 million in bonds designated for the train sets because it failed to take possession of them.

Read the claim here.

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