European-designed, clean-burning rail cars could some day carry locals and tourists alike up and down the Napa Valley along the route.
Making it happen is the aim of two Napa Valley businessmen – both known for realizing audacious visions – who are forming an investors group to bring light-rail transit to the county.
“We are out to figure out a way … to give everyone in the Napa Valley the ability to hop on and hop off a light rail line that runs from to St. Helena,” said Upvalley vintner Sept. 11 during his speech at the .
In an interview with Napa Patch, McMinn said the vehicles envisioned for the light-rail service are called “Sprinter” and made in Sacramento by Siemens under the “Desiro” brand.
Because they’re built to comply with European emissions standards, McMinn said, the Sprinters are “very clean burning, very efficient.”
The sleek, two-car rail vehicles are also “ultra modern and comfortable,” he added.
McMinn, the leading force behind the projected 44-mile north-south for bicycle and pedestrian use, is working with developer Keith Rogal, who turned a former RV storage facility into the high-end Carneros Lodge (with a pair of locally-popular restaurants, Farm and ) and has an ambitious proposal for the former property just outside city limits.
Rogal, who has long boosted light rail as a solution to Napa’s traffic woes, has been meeting with like-minded investors and citizens for the past four years, according to an announcement from the newly-formed Napa Transit Investors.
The announcement begins,
Napa Transit Investors has entered into formal discussions with the Napa Valley Wine Train regarding a plan to create a new, more environmentally responsible and enjoyable alternative for daily transportation in the Napa Valley, utilizing the rail corridor of the Napa Valley Wine Train.
Greg McManus, CEO of the Napa Valley Wine Train, has indicated his openness to the concept, and will be providing information needed for Napa Transit Investors to review the possibilities in detail during the next 90 days.
McMinn told Napa Patch, “I have agreed to be the President of NTI in the short term and help to secure an investor group that would be willing to help make this happen.”
McMinn said he intends to have at least one and potentially multiple public meetings within the next few weeks to gather input and opinions on the light-rail proposal.
“There are still a lot of questions and a lot of moving parts, but I’m really pleased by the ‘oh, wow’ encouragement of a lot of folks,” he said.
A similar rail system operates in San Diego, McMinn said.