Speed rail can help bring up the economy

Marcus Castro, Contributing Editor

The Kern4HMF coalition group is advocating that the Heavy Maintenance Facility for the High-Speed Rail be located in Kern County, as it will highly benefit the county.

The Heavy Maintenance Facility (HMF) is a facility where train cars on the High-Speed Rail will go to be repaired. The facility would handle large and small repairs.

The Kern4HMF coalition is made up of business leaders, community leaders, government entities and schools. They are advocating for the HMF because of what it could bring with it.

“Numerous cities are advocating for an HMF because of the economic potential and job related factors that this facility will provide,” said Lauren Skidmore, of Kern4HMF.

Skidmore explained that the HMF would provide 1,500 permanent state jobs, and it could provide up to 15,000 indirect jobs.

Wherever the HMF is located, it could bring an entirely new industry to that area, according to Skidmore.

The authority is expected to choose a location for the HMF by the end of 2016, and Kern4HMF is telling the California High-Speed Rail Authority that Kern County is ready for it.

Kern4HMF said that there are two locations in Kern County that are at least three times larger than the necessary size needed. The site is located in Shafter, and the land is being offered for free. They explained that the land is ready to go right now.

The sites run next to where the High-Speed Rail is planned to come through, as the Authority asked for it to be. Kern County has two major industries, oil and agriculture, and these industries provide people with work experience in machinery.

Skidmore said that there are people that are being trained at schools in Bakersfield that can do this work.

“To employ individuals of this Heavy Maintenance Facility, they’re going to need a certain type of skill set. And we believe that CSUB’s engineering department offers training that can support the HMF,” said Skidmore.

“Not only that, Bakersfield College offers it, potentially, through their new baccalaureate degree in industrial automation.”