Innocent trainbuilder sought

For decades, Nevada officials have been trying to get a high speed train built between Southern California and Southern Nevada. It was a project that became more urgent (for the Nevada casino industry, anyway) in the 1970s when fuel became a consideration and in the 1990s with the advent of tribal casinos.

Now the project’s promoters may have a new concern—whether the eventual builder of the train has a Nazi history.

California Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, a Los Angeles Democrat, introduced legislation giving the state High-Speed Rail Authority power to disqualify firms that cooperated with wartime atrocities. The bill is aimed specifically at Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF), the French national railway corporation that transported Jews in cattle cars for the Vichy regime and the Germans. Some of its employees were also executed for resistance activities, however.

Most of the planning contracts for the Anaheim-to-Las Vegas project have gone to American Magline Group, but Germany’s Transrapid has also shown interest.

Last year’s $787 billion stimulus legislation contained $8 billion for unspecified high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects. In an attack on U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Republicans claimed the money was earmarked for the California/Nevada project, which was not true. “It’s not just specifically for us,” said California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission chair Bruce Aguilera, who said his group would have to apply for the funds like other agencies.