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Military’s locomotive repair center moving to Anniston

The Anniston Army Depot is set to become the only place the U.S. military repairs its fleet of locomotives, the depot announced Thursday.

The Defense Non-Tactical Generator and Rail Equipment Center, now at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, will move to the depot, bringing with it 33 civilian jobs, the depot’s announcement said.

The military uses locomotives in the U.S. to move heavy equipment. For example, the Anniston Army Depot uses three train engines to move things like ammunition and tanks around the depot, according to Nathan Hill, military liaison for the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and the county’s Economic Development Council.

“I think it’s a great thing for the depot,” Hill said. “It does provide them on-site, on the installation, a mission that is very unique, not only in the Army but the entire Department of Defense.”

Hill said he helped coordinate discussions about the move among the offices of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers of Saks and U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

The center has been under the Anniston depot’s supervision since 2000. The Air Force decided it needed the space in Utah for other reasons, so the work is moving to Anniston.

People working at the center in Utah likely will be offered the chance to move with their jobs, Hill said. Any openings after that will be filled form the local workforce, he said.

“The workforce has been the success of that mission, and we want to ensure a smooth transition for impacted employees,” depot commander Col. Joel Warhurst was quoted as saying in the announcement.

Most of the workers are diesel mechanics, Hill said, and others are likely metalworkers and welders. That helped make the center, he said, a good fit for Anniston. There are already many workers in those disciplines at the depot, working on tanks and armored personnel carriers.

“That’s why it was really a no-brainer to move it to Anniston,” Hill said.

Hill did not know when the center would begin its move. He said the depot will probably need to make minor facility upgrades costing “a few million dollars.”

Managing Editor Ben Cunningham: 256-235-3541. On Twitter @Cunningham_Star.