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Wisconsin Talgo Debate

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Trogdor

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http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/administration-wants-to-keep-train-base-plans-on-track-despite-cost-rc4gmet-142164293.html

As I've mentioned several times on here, the Talgo deal isn't turning out so well for Wisconsin and the Hiawatha service.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration is pushing to move forward with a $55 million to $63 million Milwaukee train maintenance base - even though a state analysis suggests it might be cheaper to mothball two brand-new trains and keep using Amtrak-owned equipment.
 

The Davy Crockett

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Boy, WHAT a mess. Democracy at its polarized worst. I'm afraid rail travel will bear the brunt of this boondoggle. :help:

Do I hear Washington state and Oregon licking their chops in the distance? :unsure:

Seriously, that might be the best solution at this point.
 
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Trogdor

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Boy, WHAT a mess. Democracy at its polarized worst. I'm afraid rail travel will bear the brunt of this boondoggle. :help:

Do I hear Washington state and Oregon licking their chops in the distance? :unsure:

Seriously, that might be the best solution at this point.
Oregon already has their two trains as part of this order, and there won't be any extra service yet (just, possibly, a rescheduling of existing service which will require an extra set for maintenance rotation reasons, plus one spare set for the whole fleet).

If Wisconsin put the two trains into storage, maybe four or five years from now Washington will be ready to add service, and those trains could head west.

I had heard a rumor a few months ago, which seems plausible given the details released by the article, that the Walker administration was shopping the trains around to other states to see if anyone wanted them. I'm sure Oregon and Washington were the first two phone calls made. The fact that they aren't already sold and Wisconsin is looking at moving forward with plans to study building a maintenance base suggests that OR and WA weren't interested (at least, not on the terms proposed).

Still, if it isn't resolved soon, I'm sure as soon as service expansion in the Northwest becomes possible, those trains will be given one-way tickets to hitch a ride on the back of train 7.

Granted, I'm sure it's more complicated, but I wonder if they could work out some kind of deal to store those trains in Seattle, and have Washington pay the storage fee in exchange for the ability to use them on occasion for extra service (such as during Thanksgiving and other holidays). Maybe even let Sounder use the trains for their commuter service.

The whole thing is one big mess that clearly was not well thought out (or, some may suggest, the decision-makers perhaps didn't care about the details because they couldn't see beyond the little green paper that was being handed to them under the table).
 

Swadian Hardcore

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New car are always appreciated, but if Wisconsin stops using Amtrak Horizons, they will lose capacity and the Talgos are not as flexible. Even the Cascades had five trainsets, unless I am mistaken. They will have to buy more Talgos and keep some Horizons as a filler measure.

Anybody know if the horizons will go to corridor or LD serivces? Maybe they will go to Florida. Can they run into NYP?
 

PRR 60

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New car are always appreciated, but if Wisconsin stops using Amtrak Horizons, they will lose capacity and the Talgos are not as flexible. Even the Cascades had five trainsets, unless I am mistaken. They will have to buy more Talgos and keep some Horizons as a filler measure.

Anybody know if the horizons will go to corridor or LD serivces? Maybe they will go to Florida. Can they run into NYP?
Horizon cars can run into Penn Station. NJT Comet cars are essentially Horizon cars.
 

EMDF9A

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It wont happen with Washington's current financial situation, but it would be great if WSDOT bought the two sets to run a SEA/YAK/SPK train
 
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saxman

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Would it be possible to mix the Hiawatha Line with different equipment? With the numbers growing like they are, I think, not only are they going to need to add seating capacity. But they are going to need to add departure, such as a late night departure. Might not be pretty, but whats wrong with using both sets? Horizon's for the peak times and the Talgo's for the midday/evening trains? That's assuming the scheduleing is even feasable.
 

Trogdor

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Would it be possible to mix the Hiawatha Line with different equipment? With the numbers growing like they are, I think, not only are they going to need to add seating capacity. But they are going to need to add departure, such as a late night departure. Might not be pretty, but whats wrong with using both sets? Horizon's for the peak times and the Talgo's for the midday/evening trains? That's assuming the scheduleing is even feasable.
I believe CP won't allow extra service until certain infrastructure improvements are made (exactly what those improvements are, and where we are in the process of getting them done, I don't know).

The problem with using mixed equipment is that you'd require three (or maybe four) trainsets to do the work of two. Since much of the maintenance work is time-based rather than mileage-based (though there is some of the latter), you're not saving very much by running some equipment less often. Then there's the fact that you'd have to pay for the Talgo operation and maintenance, as well as pay Amtrak for tying up a set of equipment. Costs will only rise, with no real benefit, under that scenario.

The trains currently run on a two-day cycle, for maintenance purposes. So, day 1 a train runs 329-332-333-336-337-340-341, and day 2 the train runs 330-331-334-335-338-339-342 (and the other set does the opposite).

The two peak trains are 330 and 339 (which see standees on a somewhat regular basis). So, in order to cover those trips with Horizons, you'd need a Horizon set to overnight in MKE (or run a really early morning trip up, which would be guaranteed to be empty; then there's the issue of crewing that early morning train).

If you ran a Horizon set up on 339 and had it sit overnight and come back in the morning as 330, then you'd have no equipment to run for 342. If the Horizon set on 339 turned for 342, then you either have no equipment for 330, or you need to run the Horizon set back up (the early morning train, or perhaps an extra evening departure, which wouldn't be a bad thing). But then your Talgo turns don't work.

I suppose you could do a 339-342 turn, and just make 330 run with normal equipment.

The other problem with converting 330 back to Horizon is, that's the MKE originator. That's the train that will be coming out of the Talgo maintenance shop in the morning (with trainsets alternating on an every-other-day cycle). It would be kinda dumb to have all your Talgos overnight in CHI, with the maintenance shop in MKE, while your Horizons, whose maintenance base is Chicago, overnight in MKE.

Let this be a lesson to you kids, this is what happens when politicians make decisions. You have two expensive but marginally useful trainsets being built, and they still don't know where they're going to be maintained, or even whether they'll enter service, but they're almost ready for testing in the near future.

It's sorta like the Turbo Train fiasco in New York.
 
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WICT106

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One money quote:

"And without the federal grant, the state had to cover the costs of the temporary and permanent maintenance facilities. Because of the loss of federal aid, a Journal Sentinel analysis last year found the state could wind up paying more to keep the current Milwaukee-to-Chicago service than it would have paid if the service had been extended to Madison."
That says quite a bit right there. Curse Walker and his stubbornness.
 

jis

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I wish politicians would stop messing around and DO SOMETHING!

How much did those trainsets cost? $20 million apiece?
Politicians doing something? When was the last time politics did something that actually benefited everyone?
Ummmm.... when Amtrak was created in 1971 perhaps? :)
 

Steve4031

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Running the talgos would show the best of train travel IMHO. New equipment with food service cars is definitely a plus. If they didn't want to run them chi-mil I think chi-msp could work.
 

Donctor

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Running the talgos would show the best of train travel IMHO. New equipment with food service cars is definitely a plus. If they didn't want to run them chi-mil I think chi-msp could work.
If someone paid to run them CHI-MSP, and paid whatever was necessary to keep the maintenance base in MKE and send the sets there at night, I'm sure it could be done. Nobody is suggesting that Talgos are a poor choice for CHI-MKE because they're not as nice as Horizons.
 
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