Railcar Replacement Program

 Railcar Replacement Program

Project Overview:

The project, with a budget of $393 million, aims to replace GCRTA's 40 heavy rail cars and 34 light rail cars with 60 common rail cars that can operate on both heavy and light rail systems. This approach will reduce the number of rail cars needed and simplify maintenance. The new rail cars will be safer, more reliable, technologically advanced, and will have a lower life-cycle cost. They are expected to serve the community for over 30 years and potentially increase ridership and stimulate transit-oriented development along the 33-mile rail system.

Current Railcars:

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) is currently using heavy and light rail cars that are 39 and 42 years old, respectively. These rail cars are beyond their expected lifespan, leading to increased maintenance time and costs. Finding replacement parts is challenging due to their age, and the technology in these rail cars is outdated.

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Frequently Ask Questions:

What is the cost of each car?
Each new railcar costs $5.17 million to design and build.
What is the total cost of the replacement program?
As of Spring 2023, the railcar replacement program project total cost is estimated at $393 million.
How is the project being funded?

The rail car replacement project is funded by GCRTA funds, NOACA funds, and State/Federal Grants

RTA$ 79.0M20.1%
State$ 60.0M15.3%
NOACA$ 24.0M6.1%
When will the new cars arrive?
Cars are projected to arrive in June 2026 and go into service after all vehicles have completed the required testing and acceptance process, and all infrastructure modifications are completed.
Will the new seats and floors be easy to clean?
Yes, the flooring will be a premium rubber product and the seats will be made of a composite resin that will make cleaning easier.
What is the capacity of the rail car?
Capacity per each railcar consists of 52 passenger seats, 4 mobility parking areas, and 2 bicycle racks.
What are the measurements of the rail car?
 Existing Fleet(HRV/LRV)New Fleet
Floor Height3.5'/3.33'41"tor
Will the maintenance costs of the rail cars go down with the new cars?
Yes, the new vehicles will cost less to maintain due to improved reliability and availability of repair parts which are instrumental in the reduction of maintenance expenditures.
Will the railcars be built in the United States?

Yes. GCRTA has selected Siemens Mobility Incorporated (SMI) in Sacramento, California, to design and build our new vehicles.

What percentage of the trains will be built in the United States?
Per the Federal Transit Administrations Buy America Requirement, the manufacturer must demonstrate the cost of the components produced in the US is equal or greater to 70%. Additionally, the final assembly of the cars must take place in the United States.
How will ridership be counted?
A passenger counter will be mounted above each door on the train. It counts the passengers that enter and exit the vehicle at each station, recording the passenger count, location, time, and car number in an on-board computer database.
Will the new rail cars be faster than the current fleet?
The operating speed of the cars will not change as speed is governed by Rule, and the operating speeds will not change because of the new trains.
Will having a rail car that can run on all GCRTA tracks lead to an increase in service?
Yes, purchasing a common car allows more flexibility in route design and the possibility of adding one seat trips that do not exist today.
Will fares increase due to the purchase of the new railcars?
No, the new railcars will not cause fares to increase.
Can fare media be purchased through Transit with EZfare?
Yes, fare media can be purchased through Transit with EZfare the same way it is purchased today.
Will the new car be easily accessible by ADA riders?

Yes, the cars will be ADA accessible. The trains will be level with the Red Line platforms and the mini-high platforms on the Blue and Green Lines just as they are with the existing fleets.

ADA Ramp
Does GCRTA have plans to expand its rail lines or add new ones?
At this time there are no plans to expand or add new rail lines.
Will the new cars have validators?
Yes, all new cars will be equipped with validators. The new trains will be compatible with our existing fare collection equipment and flexible enough to adapt to any system-wide changes that may occur in the future.
What will be done with the old rail cars, old equipment, and parts?

The trains are 40 years old and unique to our system. Thus, other organizations are not able to repurpose them for use on their system. Our initial strategy is to reach out to various organizations, including railroad museums, to see if they have interest in preserving this large part of Cleveland Transit history. The outdated equipment will be phased out as the new trains are put into service. The steel, aluminum and copper materials that make-up these trains will be recycled.

See Disposal of Non-Operational Rail Transit Cars: Photos and Video

Does GCRTA plan to simultaneously operate the new and old cars?
Yes and No. The platforms will have to be widened because the new trains are narrower than the old ones. Once we modify the platforms in an area, the old trains will no longer be able to clear the platforms. The new trains will be phased in starting with the Red Line. Once the new trains go into service on the Red Line the old Red Line trains will not be able to operate in the system. The new trains will run with the existing light rail fleet but only at 3 stations.
Will GCRTA maintain any of the cars as back-ups?
The new high floor light rail vehicles are narrower than our current fleet, necessitating the extension of existing platforms to align with the new dimensions. However, this adjustment creates a challenge, as the modified platforms will be too narrow for our current fleet to pass through. Consequently, all trains from our existing fleets will need to be disposed of and will no longer be used for service.
Will the rail cars/trains be connected to the Transit App for trip planning and real-time information?
Will the new cars have WIFI?
Yes, GCRTA will continue to offer Wi-Fi on all our vehicles.
Will you need to downsize your workforce?
No. GCRTA is committed to maintaining our current level of workforce and downsizing is not part of the plan.
Will your workforce require new training?
Yes. The technology change is comparable to going from a rotary phone to a smart phone and as a result, most employees in the company will be going through training for the new vehicles. Additionally, we will be reevaluating all aspects of our operations and conducting training for outside organizations including the public and emergency responders.
Why are some stations undergoing construction on the platforms?
The new high floor light rail vehicles are narrower than our current fleet, necessitating the extension of existing platforms to align with the new dimensions.
How is GCRTA engaging stakeholders on the project?
GCRTA will work with stakeholder committees and organizations to ensure that we develop and implement the best solution for the community and Northeast Ohio.
What are the benefits of new railcars?
The new railcars reduce inventory and parts costs, as RTA will only need to supply parts for one car type. Additionally, purchasing a common car decreases training hours for mechanics and operators since they only have to learn one car instead of two to maintain. Enhanced features create opportunities to keep passengers informed, improve cold weather cold weather operations and provide added comfort and functionality for the operator.

  • Hatch begins designing with specs
  • Siemens Mobility awarded railcar manufacturer
  • First railcar is supplied
  • August 2027
    24th car goes into service

Funding Story: Current and Future Investments

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) has secured funds to start buying 24 rail cars. We're planning to buy up to 36 more as we get additional funding, in groups of 6–12 cars at a time. Our team is actively seeking extra funding from federal, state, and local sources to completely finance this project.

Our 33-mile double track rail network, a major infrastructure asset worth $3-4 billion, urgently needs new rail cars. The Rail Car Evaluation study shows our heavy and light rail vehicles are beyond their expected service lives, with only about two and seven years left, respectively. As they age, we're seeing more breakdowns, poorer customer service, less reliable service, and higher maintenance costs. The study suggests a $360-393 million plan to replace 54-60 rail cars and upgrade our rail maintenance facility, equipment, and stations.

Rail Car Maintenance Costs: A Rising Challenge

In the last decade, maintenance costs for our rail cars have increased by 148% due to their age. Introducing new rail cars should cut these costs back to pre-2010 levels, saving about $80,000 per car each year in maintenance. This will also increase the miles we can travel between service interruptions from 10,000 to over 80,000.

We're dedicated to supporting local businesses. We've chosen Ohio-based companies for our rail car supply chains and earmarked about $19 million for vital upgrades to our rail maintenance facility and station platforms. These upgrades, necessary for the new rail cars, will be done by local contractors, boosting our regional economy.

The Rail Car Replacement Program is officially included in the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), under Project ID No. 112109.

GCRTA Awarded $12.6 Million Grant from Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT)
Sep 28, 2023

GCRTA Awarded $130 Million for Rail Car Replacement
May 5, 2023

RTA Awarded $11.5 Million from Two ODOT Transit Funding Programs

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