Greater Cleveland RTA approves selection of Siemens for rail car replacement project

April 19, 2023
The authority will initially purchase 24 Siemens S200 rail cars with options to order up to 60 rail cars.

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) Board of Trustees approved a recommendation by the Rail Car Replacement Team to select Siemens Mobility as the preferred vendor for the authority’s plan to replace its aging fleet.

The approval from the board initiates the process of awarding a contract to Siemens Mobility for the purchase of 24 S200 rail cars, which are modeled after a fleet currently used by Calgary Transit. The contract would carry options for up to 60 rail cars, which would be ordered in groups of six to 12 cars depending on available funding.

“I am overjoyed for my team, and our customers regarding this pivotal achievement,” said GCRTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer India L. Birdsong Terry. “[The] approval by the GCRTA Board Trustees underscores the importance of public transportation to our region and subsequent investment in our communities. Together, we move forward in strengthening our transportation network and associated infrastructure.”

GCRTA’s current heavy rail fleet is 39 years old and its light-rail fleet is 42 years old - both have exceeded their useful life. Only 40 of the original 60 heavy rail fleet and 29 of the original 48 light-rail cars remain in service. A study the authority shared in 2019 recommended the light-rail fleet be replaced within 10 years, and the heavy rail fleet be replaced in five. Additionally, an aging fleet means maintenance costs and in-service failures increase.

The new railcars are estimated to deliver GCRTA $80,000 per year per car savings in maintenance costs and, from a service perspective, the new cars will allow GCRTA to make pull-out every day.

New rail car features include:

  • High floor light-rail vehicles with two-door heights for high- and low-level platform accessibility that provides the ability for the trains to operate on all rail lines.
  • Advance infotainment system for enhanced digital and travel experience.
  • Modern operator cab area with dedicated HVAC unit, heated windshield, and enhanced visibility.
  • Ice cutter pantographs installed on every car.
  • 52 passenger seats, four wheelchair areas and two bicycle rack locations per rail car.

“Siemens looks forward to working with GCRTA and the community in bringing these new rail cars to Cleveland. It’s truly a historic moment,” said Siemens Mobility Inc., North America President of Rolling Stock Michael Cahill. “Next steps are getting to work in gathering all of the design input needed to get these cars built, and we look forward to a great working relationship with GCRTA.”

The base contract is expected to be $163.9 million for the initial 24 rail cars and nonrecurring costs. The rail car replacement project total budget currently stands at $393 million, inclusive of new rail cars, infrastructure modifications, railroad connections, engineering, testing, training, field support, spare parts and special tooling. In addition to GCRTA funds, support for this project comes from the Federal Transportation Administration, Ohio Department of Transportation and Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.

During the meeting, the board acknowledged the generational impact of its actions with GCRTA Board President Rev. Charles P. Lucas, pastor emeritus, St. James AME Church and the son of the authority’s first African American board president, Charles P. Lucas, Sr., stating “This is a historic moment in RTA’s history that will usher in a new era of mobility for rail transportation in greater Cleveland.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.