News & Reviews News Wire First Tier 4 locomotive enters service for Napa Valley Wine Train

First Tier 4 locomotive enters service for Napa Valley Wine Train

By Alex Gillman | November 17, 2023

Locomotive is first of two to be acquired under state grant

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Maroon, gold, and green locomotives in golden-hour lighting
Napa Valley Wine Train’s new Tier 4 locomotive finds itself next to FPA4 No. 73 at the railroad’s Napa shops. Alex Gillman

NAPA, Calif. – The Napa Valley Wine Train has placed the first of two Tier 4 compliant switcher units into service as the tourist railroad’s new regular motive power.

Napa Valley Railroad NZE15B No. 1864 arrived on Oct. 30, 2023. The 1,560-hp unit was rebuilt by Knoxville Locomotive Works from a National Railway Equipment Co. 3GS21B genset unit built in 2008. The gold, maroon, and green locomotive was immediately readied for a test run, and operated the length of the railroad with an empty 10-car passenger train. After performing flawlessless on the test, the locomotive pulled its first revenue train on Friday, Nov. 3.

No. 1864 and another Tier 4 locomotive are slated to replace two of the Wine Train’s signature ex-Canadian National, ex-VIA Rail Canada FPA4 locomotives; an ex-Southern Pacific RS11; a GP9R; an ex-U.S. Navy GE 65-ton switcher, and an ex-U.S. Air Force GE 80-ton switcher, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) website. Per the regulatory requirements as part of the more than $2 million that the CARB approved of federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Program grant funding, the Wine Train must destroy the prime movers of each of the retired locomotives, rendering them inoperable [see “Napa Valley Wine Train to replace six older diesels with two Tier 4 units,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 25, 2023].

A number of small modifications can be spotted on No. 1864 that it received during its career as CSX 3GS21B No. 1304. Changes so that the unit could operate in electrified territory include moving the front air horn from the cab roof to between the number boards above the cab windshield; installing shorter air conditioning units on the cab roof; moving the battery box doors further into the unit’s body, and other minor adjustments.

As of Nov, 4, FPA4 No. 71, has had its engine removed and scrapped. The remaining and operable FPA4, RS11, and GPR9 locomotives will continue to see sporadic service on the Wine Train’s lunch and dinner trains when the new locomotive goes down for maintenance until the next Tier 4 locomotive arrives. The GE 65-ton and 80-ton switchers are currently assigned to the railroad’s “Legacy Train” that consists of a locomotive and three cars. An ex-Southern/Norfolk Southern high hood GP38-2, No. 5076, is not part of the CARB agreement for the Tier 4 units and will continue to operate.

No. 1864 runs long hood forward with the Napa Valley Wine Train just north of Napa as on its southbound, return trip on Nov. 4, 2023. Alex Gillman

17 thoughts on “First Tier 4 locomotive enters service for Napa Valley Wine Train

  1. I believe I saw a few other news sources that say that there are three more locomotives under construction, which would eventually bring the Tier 4 fleet to four. That will definitely render the entire historic fleet dead.

  2. It’s so comforting to know that these classic antiques will finally be destroyed, so that we can all breathe again! What would we do without the infinite wisdom and concern of CARB?

  3. The Tier 4 might be cleaner, but the FA’s sure look better

    A word to some of the other posters on this site. Let’s keep the politics out
    of the Railfan section.

  4. And here I thought that diesel soot added flavor to the wine all these years. Cabernet a la Fossil. I guess it will be discontinued. Bummer!

  5. That new loco looks like one of the Lee sisters, Ugh Lee.

    Here’s a thought. Take the FPA shell and put the CARB friendly equipment in it. The loco would look historical, and smell like CARB’s California poppies. The UP did that with their E-units as you recall. Externally, they look like an E unit. Internally, they are a GP38-3.

    Then again, it’s Cali-commie-fornia. (Sarcasm button on.)

    1. Cummins makes a couple of repower kits for older locomotives to get to Tier 4 w/o DEF injection. The QSK60 package would fit and work quite well inside the body of the FPA-4. But it would still be a 60+ year old locomotive. Repowering and rewiring an old locomotive would be more expensive than what they did wind up with.

      The virtue signalers made an offer the railroad could not refuse: One locomotive to rule them all. With a hood unit they can be used in pax or freight. Remember, these are the people who understand image and nothing is more important than burying any concept of anything which came before that may be perceived as successful.

  6. Remember “Cash for Clunkers?” Wasn’t one condition of the “cash” part that the “clunker” part had to be destroyed? I notice that the air is fresher since that boondoggle.

  7. For me, the appeal of the entire operation is the historical equipment. Just another thing California has ruined.

  8. Forced to destroy the prime movers? Why not allow them to move out of California to another state that isn’t so air quality stringent? Any older semi’s being decommissioned in Cal? All play is fair play!

  9. I just researched my files, I have a photo of one that says “Powered by Nautral Gas” and was told the prime mover was changed to burn that, anyone with knowledge of that?

    1. The FPA-4s were modified to run on a gas/diesel mix. The modified boxcar that ran between them was the fuel tender. Burning gas does not get you to Tier 4.

  10. Glad I saw them in operation, the FPA4 ‘ s that is in the past. Wasn’t their Prime movers modified way back?

You must login to submit a comment