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.