Michigan May Acquire Idle Talgo Trains

The Talgo trains that the State of Wisconsin ordered, but now refuses to pay for may wind up serving Amtrak routes in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Transportation is looking to buy or lease the Talgo trains.

An MDOT spokesman confirmed that the department has spoken with Talgo Inc., about using the equipment until rolling stock that the state is buying arrives in 2018.

“We are examining the possibility of buying or leasing new equipment to run on Amtrak lines in Michigan until (we get) the new equipment that we have ordered,” MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa said.

Michigan is partnering with transportation departments in California, Washington, Missouri and Illinois to buy the new trains.

Talgo has passenger equipment sitting in Milwaukee. Talgo is suing Wisconsin after state officials accused the company of never completing promised work and then suspended payment. Nora Friend, the vice president of public affairs and business development in Talgo’s office in Seattle, said Wisconsin won’t be blocking the trains’ sale.

“There is no dispute in Wisconsin about who owns the trains and who has title to them,” Friend said. “Talgo owns them, is free to see them and in fact, the state of Wisconsin will be more than happy if Talgo sells the trains to the state of Michigan or to any other state and entity interested in acquiring them.”

Friend did not say how long the process of selling or leasing the trains would take.

One of the routes the Talgo trains would use would be the Wolverine Service between Chicago to Pontiac that stops in Detroit.

MDOT officials are looking to save money because federal funding of corridor routes has been reduced, which increased the state’s cost to operate the Wolverines from $8 million annually to $25 million.

That includes funding for the Pere Marquette and Blue Water routes that also serve Michigan.

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