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Train maker sues Wisconsin

Spain-based train manufacturer, Talgo, filed suit Nov. 2 against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb, saying the state defaulted on owed payments of $4.6 million dollars.

The suit originates in a contract former Governor Jim Doyle signed with Talgo for construction of two sets of trains to run on a planned high-speed line between Madison and Milwaukee. Walker rejected more than $800 million in federal money that would have paid for the project.

The state had planned to use the two sets on the Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago, but they are currently sitting in a warehouse waiting to be tested. Each said says the other is responsible for covering the costs of testing, and the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has refused to pay for a Madison-based maintenance facility for the trains promised in the original agreement.

A DOT official claims that Talgo of Spain never built the trains to meet federal standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the units were never tested properly.

In March, majority Republicans scrapped new borrowing for a maintenance base in Milwaukee for the two trains. And Governor Scott Walker said at the time that the new units would most likely not be put into service.

Officials said the state could save $12 million a year in operating costs by not using Talgo's trains - something the company refuted. The state and Talgo held a mediation session last week, but it did not settle anything.

Now, Talgo is asking Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas to approve Talgo's decision to end its contract with the state - and to let the firm keep the trains so it can sell them to another state.

Former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle convinced lawmakers to hire Talgo with a no-bid contract to build the new trains, with the possibility of more trains for a proposed Amtrak line from Milwaukee-to-Madison. But the Republican Walker scrapped that extension as part of a campaign promise.