The Talgo equipment used in Amtrak Cascade service between Vancouver BC and Eugene OR appears to be a commercial success with strong public acceptance, and acquisition of such by the sponsoring agency appears to have been a smart move. Indicative of such is that the "four a day' (+the Seattle-LA Coast Starlight) cover the route in 3'30' while the "three a day" prevalent during 1969 needed 4'00'.
Where I do have a problem, however, is that local agencies seem be be hearing the "siren' of Talgo's "hell on wheels' business model. That model is simply if you buy 'em from us, we'll build 'em wherever you want. Wisconsin recently ordered two Talgo train sets for Chicago-Milwaukee service, with an option for a third for use on a proposed Chicago-Milw-Madison route. Talgo has agreed that the assembly work will be done at a Wisconsin facility and that 80 some jobs will be created resulting from the project. To ensure that the jobs are held by Wisconsin residents, the facility will likely be located in Central Wisconsin as distinct from "border towns" such as, say, Beloit or Kenosha.
My problem is that absent a permanent assembly facility, Talgo will simply set up shop anywhere someone will buy their equipment resulting in increased costs (as well as possibly 'relaxed" quality control) from reduced operational efficiency. While not the case in the Northwest, I would dare say that Wisconsin will end up with equipment unsuitable for the essentially tangent Chi-Milw run. Bi-Levels modeled after the California cars are the most suitable equipment for any Midwest Corridor initiative, but watch Talgo try and peddle their product and business model, say, here in neighboring Illinois.
Those 80 Wisconsin jobs are going to be the most expensive jobs a locality ever "bought".
Sunday Open Thread: Victoria Line Story
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