Talgo to leave Milwaukee if Madison to Milw. rail project stopped?

Last week Friday, Proud Progressive noted Governor Jim Doyle’s decision to put a “temporary” stop to the planned passenger rail line between Madison and Milwaukee, and not surprisingly, shortly after the “temporary” stop was announced, Spanish train manufacturer Talgo, which opened a manufacturing plant in Milwaukee to build trains for the proposed passenger rail line, announced it may not keep its facility in Milwaukee if the passenger rail line between Madison and Milwaukee is dumped:

The company has already hired about 40 people for its current contracts and plans to have a total of 125 on board by next year, Friend and Barrett said. If it had won contracts to build trains for the Milwaukee-to-Madison line and for other states, it would have kept the plant in operation beyond 2012 and expanded, they said.

“The implication is that a lot of people will be losing their jobs,” after the current work is done, Friend said. “For us, it means we won’t be able to expand. . . .  It’s very difficult for us to hire people and tell them it’s only for a year and a half or so.”

And in another case of Scott Walker’s willingness to say anything to get elected, it appears Walker might now be backing off his promise to kill the passenger rail line, as Walker reached out to Talgo in an attempt to to convince the company to stay in Wisconsin (emphasis mine):

Governor-elect Scott Walker reached out to a Milwaukee train manufacturer Friday, seeking to keep its operations in the state long-term as he advocates for stopping a passenger rail project involving the company.

“Governor-elect Walker is reaching out to leadership at Talgo to encourage them to stay in Wisconsin,” Walker spokeswoman Jill Bader said Friday.

A spokeswoman for Talgo, the U.S. unit of the Spanish firm Patentes Talgo, said that Walker told company officials that his decision to stop a proposed Madison-to-Milwaukee passenger rail line is “not final.”

Later in the article, Bader did go on to note Scott Walker is still opposed to the Madison to Milwaukee passenger rail line, leaving me to wonder where exactly Scott Walker stands on the passenger line. Will we see yet another Scott Walker flip-flop as governor-elect Walker (who is now on the hook to create 250,000 jobs per a campaign promise) realizes that his opposition to the Madison to Milwaukee passenger rail line as gubernatorial candidate Walker will actually cause Wisconsin to lose good jobs?

James Rowen of the Political Environment has more on the passenger line between Madison and Milwaukee.


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17 thoughts on “Talgo to leave Milwaukee if Madison to Milw. rail project stopped?

  1. This is not just a Milwaukee-to-Madison rail line; when it’s completed, it will connect Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and St. Paul-Minneapolis. The reach would be greater, and the money it would bring into the system much greater than what a Milwaukee-to-Madison line could achieve. I used to know five people that commuted every day between Milwaukee and Madison, and they had to drive. Now I have a friend who is about to move to Chicago, and will commute to Milwaukee via rail. He’s doing that because of the rail connection.

  2. Show me the numbers. I would think (hope) that a thorough financial breakdown including a estimated number of passengers (best-case, worst-case and most likely) would have all been part of the grant process. As well, I’ve heard many numbers thrown around about operating costs and jobs. What would it really cost?

    If they want public support, show us the numbers. The fact that they haven’t been released makes it look like there’s something to hide.

    Please – prove me wrong. Give me a link with this info.

  3. Even with the federal government picking up the line’s full construction cost, Walker has said he doesn’t want state taxpayers to pay operating costs, projected at $7.5 million a year, starting in 2013. A state transportation official has said state taxpayers’ share could be as little as $750,000 a year, if federal aid covers 90% of operating costs,

    Case in point…I don’t know whether to trust the $7.5 million or not. I certainly don’t trust some anonymous source who says it would only be 1/10th that. And if we cannot agree that federal funds are actually money too not just some magical creation, that taxpayer money is taxpayer money regardless of which pool of taxpayers contributed, then let us not waste each others’ time.

  4. Finally – and admittedly, this is a little off topic.

    A Spanish company opens up a branch here & hires Wisconsin people. That is a good thing.

    An American company opens up a branch in Candada, Mexico or somewhere in Asia and hires it’s people. This is a bad thing.

    Can somebody explain the fundamental difference between the two? What consistent framework of rationale leads you to the conclusion that seemingly similar behavior is good in one case and bad in the other?

    1. No one likes to be a loser regardless if it makes no difference to the NFL, the USTA, FIDE, train manufacturers, or to free traders. But when people are the losers, there is a difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. That is what makes it bad or good.

      1. But when people are the losers, there is a difference between ‘us’ and ‘them’. That is what makes it bad or good.

        Thanks PB, I always appreciate hearing from you. I give you credit for at least admitting it’s an us vs. them thing. I think most anti-free traders feel that way as well but won’t admit it.

        But that’s part of what puzzle me about this, the Us & Them thing. To me – people are people. As a general rule, I just don’t think of an American being any better than an Indian or Chinese or African. I feel terrible for every American who loses his job. As much as it’s unfair and plainly sucks that companies can hire a dozen (or many more) foreign workers for one American, I can’t help but feel that the improvement in “their” lives greatly surpasses the reduction in “ours.” Not to belittle the poor here – but we all know a “poor” American has a standard of living beyond the richest in many countries.

        Generally conservatives are portrayed as isolationists who believe Americans are superior and don’t care about poor in other countries. Liberals, more or less the opposite. Free trade seems to be one that flips things upside down.

        That American consumers demand cheap products is unarguably true. For the most part, we’ve shown we don’t care where they come from. We’re getting those cheap products and improving the lives of foreign workers. Unfotunately, as Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL and the cost is manufacturing jobs here.

        1. Tip O’Neill said: “All politics is local.”

          PB says:”I cannot be neutral or intellectually aloof when it is my job, my food, my home,my kids, my country, etc. I think perhaps Pastor Niemoller said it well: “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. . . ”
          I might change it today to read “First they came for the manufacturers and I did not speak up because I was not a manufacturer. Then they came for the call center and I did not speak up because I did not work in call centers.Then they came for the IT and I did not speak up because I was not IT. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one to speak for me.”
          Locke, it is “us vs them” every day. We win when we recognize the game we are in and then we work to keep our advantages.

          I work for a company that provides outsourcing services to other companies in a narrow specialty. Two months ago I was inadvertently copied on an email by a manager who had been selected to use our services. His email to his staff included this in his email signature: “If we don’t do it, somebody else will.” His message was clear to his team and I understood his meaning as well. This would not be a cooperative venture for my company regardless of senior level support. I expected no less though from an American middle manager who was committed to his team and to his work. I hope he fights like h311 to keep his work, I will admire him whether he wins or loses.

  5. locke the difference is Talgo is opening up here, hiring workers here, to make products that will be used here. GM(pick a company), closes a plant in Janesville and goes to Mexico, lays off Americans, hires mexicans at much cheaper labor rates without regulations and makes products that will be used in America.

    1. So for you, it just depends on where the product is used/sold? So if Talgo were to take build trains with Wisconsin labor and sell them to Canadians or Spaniards, then that would be wrong? And GM using Chinese labor to build Buicks it sells in China would be OK?

      Moving production to avoid higher labor costs is wrong. But moving production to avoid higher shipping costs is OK?

      1. NO I want everyone working in all countries. The Chinese need cars so they can build the cars they need there, same with Mexico, etc…

        We will not fully recover from any downturn/recession until we start making things in America again. That is just a fact.

  6. http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_c5b19d5c-eb76-11df-9da3-001cc4c03286.html

    Doyle officially called his bluff!!

    Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle says he is leaving the future of Wisconsin’s high-speed train line to his Republican successor who has vowed to kill the project.

    Doyle told The Associated Press on Monday that he decided he could either play brinksmanship and push the project ahead between now and when he leaves office and see if Gov.-elect Scott Walker could stop it.

    But Doyle says that could lead to lawsuits, put jobs in jeopardy and cause great unrest to the project.

    Instead, Doyle says he is leaving it up to Walker to discuss the project’s future with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Doyle says it can’t be a success unless both sides work together on it.

    Wisconsin was awarded $810 million in federal stimulus money to pay for building the line between Madison to Milwaukee.

    1. If they are such a racist company why is Scott Weasel trying to get them to stay in Wisconsin??

  7. Everyone is overlooking the fact that it seems America can’t figure out how to build trains? wtf? We can build IED resistant trucks in Oshkosh, littoral warships in Manitowoc, and we can’t build something a relatively simple as a train? We nearly invented the train!

    1. Honestly, that’s what bothers me too. Why can’t we build a train here from one of our own companies? I mean, historically even Wisconsin was a pretty big train hub, you can even see remains of it throughout the entire state.

      I personally think Walker is now in a lose/lose situation – he should have never promised to stop the train on the principle that when he made that process, we were already we are so deep into this project that killing it now is counterproductive, from a business standpoint. The ‘money’ tax payers will be paying for this train they will never use, is at like 30 cents a year. Not to mention loss of respect from many businesses/people that support rail. He will also be likely using our tax dollars to stop the rail, which is ultimately counter productive. This on principle, bothers me not because I’m pro-train, but it’s millions of dollars on lawyers that could be used for just letting it through.

      And for what? To save $7.5 million a year? A dollar amount that is a a speck in comparison with our massive state transportation budget, from widening roads, where 30 miles of road is actually the same amount? Let it go through Walker, if you stop it you’re just going to end up spending more money and we will lose a lot of jobs here in the process.

      Either way, I’m hoping Walker sees the error of his anti-rail message and his position changes by the time he enters office. The best outcome I can see for all of us? Is Walker proclaiming that he did all he could to stop the project but sees the costs too high to successfully end it now. (Simply because it is.)

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