Pricey End to Wisconsin’s Train Headache

     MADISON (CN) – A train manufacturer suing Wisconsin will take home nearly $10 million from a settlement plus two high-speed train sets on which the state spent $50 million.
     Spain-based Talgo Inc. sued Wisconsin in Dane County Circuit Court in 2009 after it canceled a 20-year contract to build and maintain trains set to run between Milwaukee and Chicago.
     The state also canceled its order for two trains set to run between Madison and Milwaukee on a campaign promise by then-gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker.
     Talgo’s attorney Lester Pines noted that the Chicago trains had already been paid for and built when the state canceled the maintenance contract, however, and the Wisconsin refused to release money to build the maintenance facility.
     The ensuing contract dispute ended Wednesday when Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan B. Colas signed the stipulated dismissal.
     Talgo signed a settlement Thursday in which it agreed to repay as much as $9.748 million if it sells the train sets, but no more than 30 percent of the net proceeds.
     And the $30 million price tag the state would need to recoup the settlement proceeds is far from a sure thing, Pines said.
     “I just don’t want to give the impression that the state is guaranteed to get $9.748 million dollars back,” Pines said. “It’s not. It’s not, it’s just not.”
     Walker, now a Republican presidential candidate, fulfilled his vow to stop the Madison-Milwaukee train line project set into motion by his predecessor, Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, Pines said. The state was set to receive some $800 million from the federal government for the line, which opponents argued would cost too much – a million a year – to run, he continued.
     When the state gave up on the Madison-Milwaukee line, it lost federal money for both train projects, eventually refusing to support the Chicago line as promised, Pines said.
     Representatives from the state Department of Justice and Walker’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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