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Talgo: ‘We can’t stay and manufacture in Milwaukee’

James Cannon, an electrician at Talgo Inc., works to install wiring for lights in a high-speed rail car on Friday at the facility in Milwaukee. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Talgo Inc., the Spanish manufacturer of high-speed train cars, will abandon its plant in Milwaukee in 2012, according to Nora Friend, a spokeswoman for the company.

The decision was made after U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced Thursday that the federal government was rescinding the $810 million allocated to Wisconsin. Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker had strongly opposed the state’s high-speed rail plan.

“We can’t stay and manufacture in Milwaukee without the high-speed rail to Madison,” Friend said. “This is terrible news.”

Friend said the state’s decision to back away from the high-speed rail project sends a terrible message to businesses considering locating in the state.

“We were encouraged by the business community,” Friend said. “We are really discouraged by what has happened.”

State residents should also be discouraged, she said. Talgo and the construction of the rail line would have created jobs badly needed in the construction industry.

“For anybody to think that there is another $800 million to invest in another project is foolish,” she said. “There is no other pool of money.”

She said the company has not made a decision on where it would move its operations. The plant was supposed to make trains for all of North America.

— Marie Rohde

31 comments

  1. Scott Walker = FAIL

    Somebody needs to run a tally of tax revenue and jobs lost under this a$$clown’s watch. He’s off to a rip-roaring start!

  2. Rip-roaring start? The guy hasn’t even been sworn in as governor yet. Illinois is a mess, but this guy is going to make it seem like paradise when compared to Wisconsin.

  3. Kudos to Mr. Walker for doing what is right. As a country we need to turn down short term gains (construction jobs for a couple years) for long term pain (added up front federal debt and on going state debt) Yes, I know that money (which the feds borrowed) will go elsewhere and that is wrong. $817 million is not a huge part of the federal problem, but how do you eat an elephant?…One bite at a time.

    Well done Scott!

  4. Building passenger-rail infrastructure would be a valuable long-term investment for Wisconsin and the midwest–connecting Minneapolis with Chicago and Chicago with many other destinations. Not only would it create many construction jobs in the short term, the long-term jobs of creating train cars for the nation would be in Wisconsin. We can’t rely on cars alone for regional transportation as oil prices rise and air pollution becomes more of a concern locally. The interstate highway system was a huge investment up front that didn’t pay for itself either. We need to invest in our nations infrastructure, with the future in mind.

  5. Good riddance. Go to Illinois with your shady, underhanded deals. Doyle thought he could slip this one through before the miserable skunk left office.

    Thank you, Scott, for listening to the people when we said “We do NOT want more trains”.

  6. Well we all know that Obama and democrats in congress who lost their house seats got something to run on now when they see how many jobs were lost because of this imbecil. I would hammer over and over again that this STUPID governor cost yall thousands of jobs. You can’t blame this on the President if yall economy tanks even further. Its not like the money wasn’t going to be spent somewhere else. All because of political ideology he give back almost 1 billion dollars to get back at President Obama. DUMB MOVE. He isn’t hurting obama he is hurting the innocent folks in his state and I can almost gurantee if this turns out to be one of the dumbest moves ever by a govenor elect, he will be a one-term. Wisconsin is a blue-state with a lot of middle class working familes and I can almost imagine them cursing at their kitchen tables right now cause they don’t have a job.

  7. Whether measured at a state, regional or country-wide level, Wisconsin is in competition with our neighbors to attract high-paying jobs, educated professionals & global-thinking companies. Clearly our manufacturing base will never recover from the shift in the global economy, so building up our white-collar employer base must be Wisconsin’s focus for remaining financially viable. Consider some of the incredible research & technological advances being made by companies in Milwaukee, Madison and surrounding areas; Wisconsin has the potential to be at the forefront of several new & lucrative markets. Yet, our not-quite-leader has made it clear to the DOT that we aren’t smart enough to take advantage of nearly a billion dollars of transportation infrastructure improvements being offered to us, the kind of infrastructure geared specifically to supporting a white-collar economy. So, while we pass up that investment and the opportunity to create a legacy transportation network that would have benefited our state for decades to come, that money that will now be spent by competing states where THEY can build or expand their own transportation systems and attract the kind of talent we need. Don’t think for a minute that we as a state will be better off NOT being connected to the regional transportation network.

  8. How incredibly short sighted of Scott Walker.

  9. I think Walker blew it on this one. He had a chance to let this go and appease the large group of citizens who voted for the other guy. This feeling that Wisconsin voters were voting NO on rail is mistaken. He did not win in a landslide and there were plenty of other issues. Would have been smarter to build some additional goodwill with the opposition rather than spend whatever momentum he may have had from the election.

  10. The people that are opposed to the train plan due to the fact that they think it’ll cost too much in the long run or because they hate progress need to wake up and get their head out of the sand. As Wisconsin Voter says, we built roads, we continue to build roads, and that’s something that has paid off. The high speed train situation would’ve been the same thing. Short term construction jobs, and long term maintenance jobs. We would’ve been connected to other cities which would have made business and transportation more efficient. Not even to mention the environmental benefits.

    I am honestly flabbergasted that there are people here supporting the idea of turning back $810 billion dollars all because, what, what’s the real reason? The short term gain argument cannot be the real reason, since, if you bother to do research on it, it actually doesn’t make any sense. So what is it – are we fighting turning into Europe or something, a continent that has an amazing transportation network?

  11. Sorry – that should be $810 million…

  12. WHAT AN IDIOT! This has to Scotty’s brightest decision since he dropped out of college with one semester to go. ( I guess that last semester was a boondoggle). Does anyone think the people in California, Illinois etc. are at some point in the future going to be petitioning the Federal gov’t for funds to raze these high speed lines to save tax dollars? We are destined to be a second class state for the forseeable future. After he finishes destroying the unions ( and the rest of the middle class, “REAM ME UP SCOTTY!”) he is going to hamper stem cell research because of his narrow religious beliefs. I do think he’ll create one new industry, cheesehead dunce caps, for all the short sighted fools that put this yahoo in office and turned Wisconsin into a red (with embarrassment) state. Lucky for me, I have a second residence in CA. All my friends out there should buy me a beer. Right now I’m truly embarrassed to be from Wisconsin. What’s our new slogan “Wisconsin, the Mississippi of the North”?

  13. On Tuesday, Walker was asked about trains during a forum Tuesday in Milwaukee. Walker contended that he and federal Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood have had “good talks about options for the $800-million in federal money.”

    haha. So much for that.

    Walker also had talks with Talgo asking them to stay.

    So much for that.

    I would imagine the road construction lobbyists who contributed to his campaign are just as displeased with his political posturing. Walker never wanted this worst case scenario to occur. No money for the train. No money for roads.

  14. As a resident of an Eastern state that needs jobs and good infrastructure, all I can say is thank you, governor-elect Walker. We need the jobs and the long-term investment gains here, and will put this money to good use!

  15. Nonie, Wisconsin is now a red state not a blue one, check out the last election results, I think the majority was clear in what they wanted.

    This entire train fiasco was handled wrong from the start, it was crammed /shoved in everyones face, by people that feel only they are intelligent enough to think for Wisconsin, and only they will decide the fate of the people. Even the great and powerful Ray Lahood laughed and said nobody can stop the train.

    Back anyone in a corner and try to control them , dont be surprised when they bite back. had this been handled in a more bi partisan way from day one it may may have had a chance, ramming it home chicago style dont work well here in cheeseland, we are also seeing this in polls regarding health care, disagree if you want but the numbers dont lie.

    Nobody wants this much Government forced on them.
    Dont worry about the money no other states will get any train funds as well, come Jan 3 when a new house is seated this will be one of the first things sacraficed, keep in mind the other chamber (senate) will all be fighting for there political lives the next two years, they will not risk there career on this regional trivial train issue, way to much bigger fish to fry.
    Its all over but the crying now.

  16. “Yes, I know that money (which the feds borrowed) will go elsewhere and that is wrong.”

    So what you are saying is that nobody took a bite out of the elephant and now we are just sitting here looking stupid while the money is being spent/wsted/whatever somewhere else. Can you explain to us again how this is going to help the defecit?

    Oh well…. doesn’t really change m,y life, I’m sill raking in the money…. just bought my own high-speed transportation, in fact. :) But when I meet contractors or people that voted for Walker and are whining about the lack of work/jobs, I’m simply going to shrug, smile, and tell them they got what they deserve.

  17. Totally disgusting. I like Scott Walker’s drive to cut government spending and employee benefits, but this was an INVESTMENT in the future, way beyond tempoary jobs (which still matter in this climate). Walker completely F***ed Wisconsin for a generation with this stunt. I will be first in line to throw a pie and this clown if he shows his face anywhere near me.

  18. Oregon says thank you!!!

  19. Irwin Fletcher says: “Yes, I know that money (which the feds borrowed) will go elsewhere and that is wrong. $817 million is not a huge part of the federal problem, but how do you eat an elephant?…One bite at a time.”

    Except that this isn’t a bite. In fact it would barely be a nibble. This isn’t going to do a thing for the National Debt.

    If you want to start taking bites, start with the $34.5 Billion borrowed for the highways.

    Of course even that won’t get the job done. In fact, there are 4 big ticket items that outspend the income. Cutting things like trains and highways isn’t going to cut the debt. Those 4 big ticket items represent 80% of the spending in this country, we could (in theory, the outcry would be horrible) cut the entire remaining 20% to zero and the National debt would still be increasing.

    At least with the now dead train, we could have slowed the growth of the amounts we need to borrow for our highways. Instead, they’ll just continue to explode, at least in Wisconsin. Wonder if the Fed will cut some of that funding now for Wisconsin’s foolishness.

  20. Wisconsinlady says: “Good riddance. Go to Illinois with your shady, underhanded deals. Doyle thought he could slip this one through before the miserable skunk left office.”

    Wisconsinlady,

    Doyle didn’t think it. He could have done it!

    Governor Doyle was given permission by the Fed the weekend before the election to issue all the needed contracts for this train. He could have gone right out and signed every contract and set those contracts with massive penalties for cancellation. Penalties that would have cost Wisconsin money if Mr. Walker tried to break them. And any monies spent would have needed to have been repaid to the Fed, and Mr Doyle could have spent plenty in 2 months.

    Instead Governor Doyle issued a stop work order 2 days after the election, halting all the work that was already under contract long before he got permission from the Fed to put all the work out to contract.

    Governor Doyle left things up to Governor Elect Walker to either see the light or cancel things. Instead, the Fed made the choice for Mr. Walker.

    You may not like Mr. Doyle, but please get your facts straight. He had the chance to obligate Wisconsin to millions of dollars in contracts and he could have let 2 more months of work continue spending still more money. Instead, he chose not do that!

  21. Troy Kaufert says: “This entire train fiasco was handled wrong from the start, it was crammed /shoved in everyones face, by people that feel only they are intelligent enough to think for Wisconsin, and only they will decide the fate of the people.”

    Shoved in their faces? This project was first talked about and planning for it started under Tommy Thompson. It’s been under planning for years! And funny, that no one considered the Stimulus funding sent to Wisconsin for the highways as being shoved in their faces. That money obligated Wisconsin to spend State monies too and to keep up those roads in the future. No one is crying about that.

    Troy Kaufert says: “Dont worry about the money no other states will get any train funds as well, come Jan 3 when a new house is seated this will be one of the first things sacraficed, keep in mind the other chamber (senate) will all be fighting for there political lives the next two years, they will not risk there career on this regional trivial train issue, way to much bigger fish to fry.
    Its all over but the crying now.”

    This money has already been allocated to other states and it will be locked in under FFA’s (Full Funding Agreements) before the new Congress is sworn in. If Congress reverses things, and assuming that they can override the certain veto from President Obama, it will be the first time in history that the Fed has reneged on an FFA. And that would be an awful precedent to set.

    No state would ever be able to be certain that the money promised from the Fed for roads, highways, airports, and other infrastructure would indeed actually show up. The FFA is the Fed’s promise that they will pay X part of the bill. Start canceling promises and no one will ever be able to trust the Fed again to help pay the bills.

  22. Scott Walker has clearly failed Economics 101. Spending on infrastructure during an economic downtown pays both short and long-term benefits. His short-sighted response defies both common sense and basic economics.

    His actions are an embarrassment to the state of Wisconsin and downright shameful.

  23. correction “downturn”

  24. Regardless of where you stand on the train issue, this decision also screwed Minnesota. If that was the Cheesehead intention, then you succeeded.

  25. Wisconsinlady says: “Good riddance. Go to Illinois with your shady, underhanded deals. Doyle thought he could slip this one through before the miserable skunk left office.”

    Dear Sweet Wisconsinlady with the BBA,

    I guess Mr. Walker believes we need to stick to driving our own personal cars so we can bar hop our way to and from Milwaukee and Madison. “A federal government survey has found that the state of Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunk driving in the nation.”

    Yippee! Burp!

    And Milwaukee now has to say goodbye to Talgo, Inc.

  26. Bro,

    At least Wisconsin residents were sober enough to see the train as a bad deal and voted accordingly.

    Talgo would have left once the train cars for Wisconsin were complete. It never was about creating a long term business relationship for them.

  27. “Talgo would have left once the train cars for Wisconsin were complete. It never was about creating a long term business relationship for them.”

    Evidence? Didn’t think so.

    That’s how people like you operate.

  28. Hi Irwin,

    Good point! In addition to voter IDs, Wisconsin should have breathalyzer in the voting booth.

    You and Abe are right about Talgo though. I don’t know how “people like you” operate, but in these days what jobs aren’t temporary.

    The only thing that is long term now a days is nursing home care.

    :)

  29. I am still wondering which of the big oil companies and automotive companies lined scotts pockets to get him to stop a program to actually improve the public transportation infrastructure.

  30. Impeachment-elect Scott Walker is getting beaten up nicely in this Journal Sentinel poll: http://www.jsonline.com/polls/111603599.html . And Gutless Governor Jim Doyle indeed took the choke in the final seconds and wimped out, thereby snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Concrete Scott Walker, though, will forever be blamed, and he has now slipped into the defensive position, never a good place to be. And I think he’s going to be stuck there for a long, long time.

  31. Scott Walker is defensive? It seems the Democrats are the ones running like roaches when the light is turned on. First they realized they would look like fools if they committed more resources to the train when they knew Mr. Walker would kill it regardless. Kudos to them for recognizing that. Then they pull a representative out of the clink to help them saddle the State with a new Union contract. So really, who is acting defensive and who is showing leadership?

    Zon, the train would have provided so few passenger miles that it would have been insignificant to either oil or auto companies. Do you think the unions lined Barrett’s pockets to try and save the choo choo so they could harvest a few more $ for their pension fund?

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