Although the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority approved a contract with Siemens Mobility for these new trains, they won’t be ready to ride here until the summer of 2026. It remains to be seen if GCRTA’s existing trains will last that long (Siemens). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.
Red Line trains to be replaced first, starting in mid-2026
After at least eight years of discussion and planning, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) Board Members unanimously voted to approve the Rail Car Replacement Team’s recommendation of Siemens Mobility Incorporated as the preferred vendor to replace their aging rail fleet during today’s GCRTA Board meeting. This follows a detailed presentation and committee recommendation made on April 4.
However, the new trains won’t be delivered, fully tested and ready for Greater Clevelanders to ride until sometime in mid-2026. And even then, only the Red Line (Airport-Downtown-Windermere) will get the new trains to replace the existing, four-decade heavy-rail fleet. The light-rail trains on the Blue/Green lines between downtown’s Waterfront and Shaker Heights are even older, dating to 1979-81, and may not be replaced until 2029-30. Still, GCRTA officials were excited to get going on the final design of the new trains and the infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate them.
“I am overjoyed for my team, and our customers regarding this pivotal achievement,” said GCRTA General Manager and CEO India Birdsong Terry in a written statement. “Today’s 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.”
A conceptual rendering of what the interiors of Cleveland’s new Rapid trains could look like (Siemens).
In January, NEOtrans was first to report that GCRTA would choose the Siemens trains for its new Rapids. The approval initiates the process of awarding a contract to Siemens Mobility for the purchase of 24 Siemens Model S200 rail cars, with the option to purchase up to a total of 60 cars in the future. The new rail cars are modeled after a fleet currently used by Calgary Transit, located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 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,” said Siemens Mobility North America President of Rolling Stock Michael Cahill. “It’s truly a historic moment. 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.”
Because the new high/low-platform boarding rail cars and infrastructure changes will allow the trains to serve all of GCRTA rail lines, it offers some interesting opportunities for running new services in addition to providing more reliable service on existing lines (GCRTA).
An additional acknowledgement of the generational impact of the resolution occurred during the Board Meeting when President Charles P. Lucas acknowledged how his father, Charles P. Lucas, Sr., as the first RTA (formerly Cleveland Transit System) African American Board President would have been incredibly proud about what was accomplished today, and his son’s role in helping bring it all to fruition.
“This is a historic moment in RTA’s history that will usher in a new era of mobility for rail transportation in Greater Cleveland,” said GCRTA Board President Rev. Charles P. Lucas, Pastor Emeritus, St. James AME Church.
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. Support for this project comes from The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA), Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and GCRTA.