Suit filed over $40 million unused train cars
MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee to Chicago Amtrak route is bursting with passengers. So the state hired Talgo to build two new sets of train cars. Now one year later, court battles and endless politics have the trains sitting in mothballs.
Taxpayers spent more than $40 million to build the new train cars.
TODAYS' TMJ4 has learned the feud is about to blow up into a bigger lawsuit as Talgo goes after the state for more money - claiming the state has not lived up to its end of the deal.
The state strongly disagrees.
Milwaukee to Chicago commuters who spend nearly $400 a month to ride the old trains are outraged.
"If we've got these trains stored in mothballs, why don't we use them?" said Lloyd Davis.
The Milwaukee to Chicago corridor moves more than 800,000 passengers a year, sometimes with standing room only.
There's talk of increasing the seven round trips to ten so additional trains would help meet the growing demand.
"I think this is just a tremendous waste," said Milwaukee Alderman Robert Bauman.
Bauman believes politics have trumped common sense.
"The taxpayers of Wisconsin have already invested in that equipment, they are first class state of the art equipment and they should be put into service," said Bauman.
Wisconsin's DOT claims the new trains are not ready to roll - saying contractual terms have not been met, there's no funding for a needed train maintenance facility and the state is actually saving millions of dollars by not running the trains.
Talgo's lawyer Lester Pines says; "This is all a smoke screen by the WisDOT and the Governor."
For now commuters are caught in the middle.
"I just wish they would all learn how to get along and put us first," said Davis.
Talgo says the trains are ready to be turned over but the state still owns them another $12 million.