Napa Valley Wine Train gets $1.7M grant to green the popular tourist line

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The diesel-powered Napa Valley Wine Train will receive a $1.7 million grant to purchase a new engine with better pollution controls, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced.

Passengers ride in dining and observation cars through the heart of the Napa Valley. The Air District stated, “Many locomotives are powered by older, highly polluting diesel engines that lack advanced pollution controls. Upgrading these locomotives to current emission standards can cut pollution significantly and improve air quality in communities along the rail line.”

Ralph Borrmann, a district spokesman, said the wine train operators applied for the grant. Diesel engines last a “very long time” so funding the purchase of a new locomotive with update pollution control devices is a large upgrade in air quality. He said the operators of the train will likely have the new engine in place no later than 2020.

The wine train grant was among several approved Thursday by the district board. The package totaled $60 million and included money for electric school buses for Bay Area school districts as well as electrification of locomotives operated by Caltrain.

Funding for these grant projects come from three state-wide sources including: 1) The Carl Moyer Program, a partnership with the California Air Resources Board to reduce heavy duty air pollution from diesel, and 2) the Mobile Source Incentive Fund, which uses a $2 Bay Area vehicle registration surcharge to fund air pollution reduction programs, and 3) the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to reduce mobile source emissions, toxic air contaminants and greenhouse gases in heavily impacted communities.

The Napa wine train from Napa to St. Helena began in 1989 after a local effort to save it after Southern Pacific abandoned the rail line. Stepping in to buy shares in the newly formed Napa Valley Wine Train Inc. was Vincent DeDomenico, inventor of Rice-A-Roni and former owner of Ghirardelli Chocolate and Golden Grain Pasta. Seattle-based Noble House Hotels & Resorts, Ltd. and Brooks Street, a California-based real estate development and investment company.

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