Milwaukee won the competition for Talgo’s Wisconsin manufacturing plant, but the company still is considering Milwaukee and Madison for a train maintenance building.
The $810 million federal grant to build a Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed rail line includes $41.7 million for a building to maintain the trains once they are in service.
Talgo, which would do the maintenance work, has not decided whether to build in Madison or Milwaukee, said Antonio Perez, president and CEO of Talgo, a Spanish company that manufactures high-speed passenger trains. The Milwaukee manufacturing plant will be the company’s first in the U.S.
The Tower Automotive site in Milwaukee where Talgo will build the trains is one possibility for the maintenance building, Perez said.
“This facility is very close to the train station,” he said, “and those trains need to be maintained at a place that is close to the main line.”
Talgo on Tuesday announced it will create at least 125 jobs in Milwaukee to build trains for high-speed rail service. Wisconsin will buy two, 14-car trains for its passenger rail, and Oregon has ordered two trains.
Wisconsin and Talgo will set up a temporary maintenance building for the trains running between Milwaukee and Madison, but there eventually will be a permanent maintenance building in Wisconsin, said Gov. Jim Doyle.
“It is very likely that the temporary one will be here,” he said of Milwaukee, “and Talgo is really going to have to make a decision where the other facility will be placed.”
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s application for the federal grant included plans for a maintenance building in Madison at the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad Co. property on East Johnson Street. David Trowbridge, transportation planner for the city of Madison, said he is aware WisDOT studied that site for a maintenance building, but the state has not applied for city approval to develop the project.
WisDOT representatives were not available to comment.
The city of Milwaukee, which will lease to Talgo a building in the former Tower Automotive property, would welcome a maintenance building as well, said Rocky Marcoux, Milwaukee Department of City Development commissioner.
“This site could serve that purpose,” he said, “but that is not our decision.”
The city will spend $4 million to renovate a 300,000-square-foot building for Talgo’s manufacturing operations, Marcoux said. The company is expected to lease 133,000 square feet for its manufacturing facility at first, he said.
The building gives Talgo room to expand if more train orders come in, Marcoux said, and the city is willing to sell the building to the company.
Perez said his company and WisDOT must study the train routes before settling on a final location for a maintenance building, but construction of the manufacturing plant in Milwaukee could make it cheaper to perform maintenance work there.
“Yes, it’s certainly an advantage,” Perez said, “because we can take advantage of some economies of scale.”