MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Doyle announced Friday a $47 million agreement with Spanish train manufacturer Talgo to build passenger trains to replace aging ones on Amtrak's Chicago to Milwaukee route, and bring 80 jobs to the state to manufacture and maintain the trains.
Doyle said the agreement includes an option to expand manufacture from two, 420-passenger trains to four, if Wisconsin receives necessary federal stimulus funding to expand Amtrak services from Milwaukee to Madison.
"I can't wait for our Midwestern travelers to experience first hand the comfort, modern amenities and expanded seating capacity of these wonderful trains," Doyle said.
Doyle rode Talgo-produced trains between Madrid and other European cities during a Feburary trade mission.
Talgo executive Antonio Perez told 27 News Wisconsin's willingness to strike a deal with the company before other states puts it in position for additional, future job creation. Perez said Talgo will decide on a site for train car assembly and maintenance in Wisconsin within nine months. Perez said the choice of location will take into consideration the possible future need to expand to produce as many as 65 trains for regional Midwest use.
Perez said Talgo executives have visited Janesville's former General Motors plant and the site of one of its former suppliers, as well as Milwaukee area sites, as possible manufacturing locations. Perez said Janesville leaders have been "proactive" in soliciting Talgo's business.
Officials said the two trains being introduced for Amtrak use between Chicago and Milwaukee will travel at standard speed, but state transportation secretary Frank Busalacchi said there are plans to do necessary upgrades for eventual, high speed passenger traffic. Perez said the trains to be produced in Wisconsin will have the capability for speeds up to 110 miles per hour.
Doyle said service between Milwaukee and Madison with two additional trains could become a reality within three to four years, if Wisconsin is successful in convincing Obama administration officials the project is shovel-ready and worthy of support in a first round of stimulus disbursements. Doyle also predicted the route expansion would happen at some point, even if early stimulus dollars did not become available. Backers of passenger rail expansion see the connected route extending to Minneapolis.
Doyle defended spending $47 million to bring a guarantee of less than one hundred jobs to the state, citing the need to replace the aging Amtrak cars and the potential for further job creation. Doyle said Amtrak ridership between Chicago and Milwaukee increased 24% last year.
The state has made an agreement with a Spanish train manufacturer to put two sets into service in Wisconsin and create jobs by setting up new assembly and maintenance facilities.
The location of the rail assembly plant has not been determined yet, but the deal will create around 80 jobs for Wisconsin workers. A Talgo representative said at Friday's news conference they have checked out two facilities in Janesville, as well as one in Milwaukee, as part of their search.
The trains will be put into service on the Amtrak Hiawatha Service, which provides daily trips between Chicago and Milwaukee.
Wisconsin will purchase two, 14-car train sets for $47 million, with the option to buy two additional sets if the state can secure stimulus funding to extend service between Milwaukee and Madison.
"We are pleased to welcome Talgo to Wisconsin," Governor Doyle said in a statement released shortly before Friday's news conference. "I can't wait for our Midwestern travelers to experience first-hand the comfort, modern amenities and expanded seating capacity on these wonderful trains. In addition, the company will use Wisconsin workers and skills to assemble and maintain Talgo trains. This relationship has the potential to create even more jobs, gives the state a major role in the growth of an exciting transportation industry and helps us move forward with our vision for high speed passenger rail service in the Midwest."
MADISON (WKOW) -- Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk released a statement Friday morning regarding Doyle's announcement:
"Governor Doyle's leadership means new jobs and top-notch rail technology for Dane County and southern Wisconsin. His successful pitch to bring Talgo, Inc. to our area is a real boost to our economy and a real opportunity for a state of the art transportation system that will spur job creation and economic development across southern Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest."
MADISON (WKOW) -- Governor Jim Doyle is scheduled to speak in Dane County Friday morning regarding Wisconsin's efforts to move forward with passenger rail between Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.
Doyle said Thursday the announcement will generate local jobs and affect the future of a rail line between the three cities.
The Governor has been campaigning for stimulus funding to construct high-speed passenger rail in the state.
WKOWTV.com will bring you live coverage of Doyle's announcement beginning at 10:30 a.m. Friday. Check back for a link to our live streaming player.
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