Talgo to put two trains into service in Wisconsin.
The trains will be used on the Amtrak Hiawatha line, which stops in Sturtevant on its way between Chicago and Milwaukee, with the cars pulled by existing locomotives. Each train "set" provides a seating capacity of 420 compared to the current 350. Hiawatha ridership continues to grow, with more than 766,000 riders in 2008, a 24% increase over 2007.
In addition, Doyle said that Talgo will establish new assembly and maintenance facilities in the state, most likely in south central or southeastern Wisconsin, creating about 80 jobs.
Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, applauded Doyle's announcement, and said, “Racine is uniquely situated to be the home for this new train assembly facility and for the jobs it will create. I am formally inviting Talgo representatives and the Governor’s staff to tour Racine as soon as possible and see firsthand the numerous benefits of locating the new assembly facility in our community.”
Doyle said, “I can’t wait for our Midwestern travelers to experience first-hand the comfort, modern amenities and expanded seating capacity on these wonderful 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.”
Wisconsin will purchase two, 14-car trains for $47 million. The agreement provides an option to buy two additional trains if the state receives federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for the extension of passenger rail service from Milwaukee to Madison.
The rail car assembly plant will support the delivery of Talgo trains throughout the country. Talgo cars are made of aluminum alloy with welded seams to form a structural frame making them lighter and stronger than traditional rail cars. The rail cars use passive tilt technology that allows the cars to navigate curves at higher speeds with less car tilting and to ride smoother at higher speed. Parts for the Talgo trains will be manufactured in Spain and shipped to Wisconsin for assembly. Talgo will work with Wisconsin and other U.S. vendors to supply parts for the trains.
The new Wisconsin rail car maintenance facility will provide service for equipment used in the Midwest. Talgo currently operates a maintenance facility in Seattle to service Amtrak Cascades trains.
Amtrak board chairman Thomas Carper said, “Amtrak has had a great response to Talgo train equipment on its Cascades Service in the Pacific Northwest, and we are confident travelers on the Hiawatha Service will have the same reaction."
Mason, a commissioner on Racine’s Redevelopment Authority, noted, “This is exciting news on several fronts. It moves us closer to the development of high speed rail, which will plug Racine into the region and be a key component of economic development. This partnership also creates opportunities to bring jobs to Racine, a community already rich in train-related expertise. Racine is home to a number of very attractive manufacturing sites on existing rail lines and has local businesses with train expertise. We have the experience, skilled labor force and rail knowledge to be the ideal location for the new assembly facility.”