Vintage Train Saving More with CNG

July 22, 2013 in CNG, Rail by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Napa Locomotive Has Displaced 12,250 Diesel Gallons This Year

Operators of the Napa Valley Wine Train north of San Francisco are on track to displace 24,500 gallons of diesel fuel and to save more than $58,000 this year with just one of four locomotives, which was converted to 100% compressed natural gas in 2008 following nearly a decade of bi-fuel diesel-CNG operation.

Clean and green in the vineyard – Napa Valley Wine Train Locomotive 73 is on track to travel 33% farther on CNG this year as it did in 2012, saving nearly $60,000. Note PG&E 'Clean Air Vehicle' placard.

Clean and green in the vineyard – Napa Valley Wine Train Locomotive 73 is on track to travel 33% farther on CNG this year as it did in 2012, saving nearly $60,000. Note PG&E ‘Clean Air Vehicle’ placard.

Locomotive 73 is on track to travel 33% farther on CNG this year than it did in 2012, saving nearly $60,000.

The Wine Train’s 36-mile route from Napa to St. Helena follows tracks dating from 1864. The current operation commenced in September 1989. There are four Alco FA locomotives, built in Montreal in 1958-1959, and purchased from the Canadian National Railroad.

Figures include the natural gas used to drive the Napa Valley Wine Train's CNG compressors at the organization's headquarteres facility in Napa, north of San Francisco.

Figures include the natural gas used to drive the Napa Valley Wine Train’s CNG compressors at the organization’s headquarters facility in Napa, north of San Francisco.

Wine Train locomotive 73 now runs solely on natural gas, having been converted by Tacoma, Wash.-based Energy Conversions, Inc. (HHP Insight, September 13).

ECI also supported conversion of two EMD SD40-2 locomotives hauling freight for CN in Alberta (HHPi, September 21).

Natural Gas Compressors

The Wine Train’s natural gas fuel is furnished by Pacific Gas & Electric.

“We use CNG powered compressors to load the train,” says Wine Train spokeswoman Kim Powers – “100% CNG operation.”

The Napa Valley Wine Train organization received an $820,000 Carl Moyer grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in 2000 in support of a conversion project costing some $1.3 million.

The CNG locomotive has been in operation about 65% of the time since it was placed in service, Powers says. “The reason for the lower percentage is due to the experimental nature of this project and our locomotive being the first of its kind,” she told HHPi.

More than $490,000 Saved – Other Operators Are Interested

“We have made and continue to make improvements and adjustments through our use and our working relationships with Energy Conversions.”

Despite the learning curve, more than $490,000 has been saved to date.

Powers notes that several other railroads, mostly from the Northeast, have visited Napa to learn about the Wine Train experience with natural gas.

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Source: HHP Insight inquiry and follow-up

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