I've long been skeptical of fixed-formation tilting trains on a relatively flat railroad such as The Milwaukee Road serving Chicago, Milwaukee, and points beyond.  And the special agreement by which former Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle brought a Talgo assembly plant to Milwaukee only gave his opposition more reason to squelch the deal.  We know since then that current governor Scott Walker ended work on upgrading the Hiawatha service and extending it to Madison, and that he (and his legislature) ended up spending more money for a partial upgrade of the Milwaukee service and cancelling the Talgo contracts.  Two trains for Oregon and Washington were assembled in Milwaukee, as were two more intended for the current Hiawatha service (until somebody figured out -- they could have seen it here first -- that even a longish Talgo doesn't have enough seats to be a Hiawatha, particularly that 5.08 ex-Chicago.)

The breach-of-contract litigation is over, and Wisconsin's Department of Transportation, at great expense, has no further obligation to take or to maintain the two trains.
Wisconsin taxpayers will end up paying $9.7 million more for two state of the art train sets — for a total of roughly $50 million — but leave the trains with their Spanish manufacturer, under the settlement of a nearly 3-year-old lawsuit.

The settlement, which still needs to be approved in court, ends a political saga going back half a decade.

The bizarre and expensive outcome for Wisconsin — paying for a product but not keeping it or ever using it — reflects the depth of the political disagreement in which Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed, and then GOP presidential candidate and Gov. Scott Walker nixed, a no-bid contract with Talgo Inc. for trains from Madison to Milwaukee and then on to Chicago
Wisconsin taxpayers are also on the hook for a new basketball arena and an upgrade -- running into many millions of dollars -- to the Zoo interchange, which, when upgraded, will not get basketball fans downtown any faster than they currently get there.  Nor, for that matter, will Chicago - Milwaukee - Madison traffic get through there any more quickly.  The benefit-cost ratio of the rail upgrade might well have been higher.

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