Robin J. Vos

State Representative • 63rd Assembly District • Racine County



March 23, 2010

Rep. Robin Vos

(608) 266 9171


New York Train Company Says High Speed Bidding Process Rigged


Madison Rep. Robin Vos (R-Caledonia) released a letter today written by the president of New York train company Alstom to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The letter provides further evidence that Governor Doyle’s no-bid contract procuring $48 million high speed train sets was crafted to favor Spanish train company, Talgo.

“As more details are exposed,” said Vos. “It’s clear that Governor Doyle and DOT officials rigged the process to specifically benefit Talgo.”

The letter, written last August by Alstom president Roelof van Ark to DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi, sheds light on the Request for Information (RFI) process. DOT officials have used the fact that no one but Talgo responded to the RFI to deflect criticism that Wisconsin never sought bids from other companies.

Alstom says they were told that they weren’t obligated to respond to the RFI, that is was simply a way for DOT to gather information on what each company could provide and at what approximate costs.  They were also told that failure to respond would in no way exclude them from the forthcoming Request for Proposal (RFP) that would open up the bidding process. A subsequent RFP was not issued.

Bob Jambois, general counsel for the Department of Transportation, testifying before the Joint Finance Committee in August, flippantly dismissed complaints from companies, claiming they made “poor business decisions”:

“If they have such a great product, I’d like them to show us the proof of that…Now I suppose instead of having an RFI process, we could call it not merely an RFI process, but a ‘really most sincerely RFI process’ - if you want to participate really most sincerely, we get down on bended knee and we beg you to provide us information about your product…Surely those executives of those companies must have….known that we were seriously contemplating replacing rolling stock…and if they didn’t…that was a poor business decision on their part. And I don’t think that the state of Wisconsin should be now stepping back to facilitate the poor business decisions that were made by companies that chose not to participate in this process.”

“The Department of Transportation is blaming businesses instead of owning up to rigging the process,” said Vos “Companies were told they weren’t required to respond to the RFI so I don’t want to hear any more excuses or accusations from the DOT. I want the real reason there was no bidding process.”

Finally, Alstom took issue with DOT’s statement that they chose Talgo because they are the only company that makes tilting high speed trains. Alstom says they also manufacture trains with tilting technology, as do many other train manufacturers. Van Ark questioned this DOT talking point in his August letter to Busalacchi, writing:

“One would think that if this requirement was so significant in your decision making that the requirement would have been detailed in the Department’s Request for Information, as it would have been determined to be paramount to meet the operational criteria for the planned services in the region.  This not being the case, it is surprising that such a critical omission now becomes the key criteria to motivate a sole-source procurement”.

“The bottom line is Governor Doyle needs to prove to Wisconsin citizens that he spent their tax dollars wisely,” Vos stated. “Striking secret sweetheart deals with foreign companies is not the way to do that.”