Transit Briefs: GCRTA, LIRR

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The new Siemens Model 200 railcars, approved by GCRTA, are modeled after a fleet currently used by Calgary Transit (pictured).

The new Siemens Model 200 railcars, approved by GCRTA, are modeled after a fleet currently used by Calgary Transit (pictured).

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) Board Members approve request to purchase 24 Siemens Model S200 railcars. Also, MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) surpasses one million customers at Grand Central Madison.


GCRTA Board Members on April 18 unanimously voted to approve the Railcar Replacement Team’s recommendation of Siemens Mobility Inc. as the preferred vendor to replace the Authority’s aging Red Line fleet.

The approval, GCRTA says, initiates the process of awarding a $164 million contract to Siemens Mobility for the purchase of 24 Siemens Model S200 railcars, with the option to purchase up to a total of 60 cars in the future. The new railcars are modeled after a fleet currently used by Calgary Transit, located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

New railcar 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 railcar.

GCRTA issued its first Request for Proposals (RFP) in February 2021, but no responsive proposals were received and the procurement was canceled. It released a second RFP in October 2021, and one responsive proposal was received from Siemens.

“I am overjoyed for my team, and our customers regarding this pivotal achievement,” said GCRTA General Manager, CEO India L. Birdsong Terry.  “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,” added Terry.

“Siemens looks forward to working with GCRTA and the community in bringing these new railcars 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,” added Cahill.

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,” GCRTA said.

“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.

According to GCRTA, the railcar replacement project total budget currently stands at $393 million, inclusive of new railcars, 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 The Greater Cleveland RTA.


LIRR on April 18 announced that the agency has surpassed one million paying customers traveling in or out of Grand Central Madison Terminal, which opened with full service on Feb. 27. The milestone was surpassed on Friday, April 7.

In addition, the LIRR announced several pandemic-era ridership records achieved since Grand Central Madison opened for full service. On both Saturday, April 8, and Sunday, April 9, the railroad carried record pandemic-era weekend ridership as New Yorkers used mass transit to get around during the holiday weekend—108,740 customers traveling on Saturday and 98,030 traveling on Sunday. On Tuesday, March 21, 213,026 customers took the LIRR, surpassing the previous pandemic-era record from November 2022.

LIRR also announced several additional milestones achieved since the opening of Grand Central Madison. This March, the LIRR has sold 358,609 City Tickets—which provides off-peak travel within New York City for $5—a 118.5% increase over the previous March. The Combo Ticket, an opportunity for customers to purchase discounted tickets when traveling on both LIRR and Metro-North Railroad in the same journey made possible through the opening of Grand Central Madison, has been utilized by more than 4,000 customers since its launch, according to LIRR. Through April 18, 2023, 15,503 LIRR trains have arrived at or departed from Grand Central Madison. The MTA’s TrainTime app has seen more than 370,000 tickets purchased for trips to or from Grand Central Madison.

In recent weeks, LIRR says schedule adjustments and lengthened trains have been introduced, increasing comfort and reliability, and boosting on-time performance above 93.5%. Since Feb. 27, the LIRR has exceeded 200,000 riders on 16 days, a threshold the railroad had only crossed twice during the first 57 days of 2023. During the seven days between April 9 and April 15, the LIRR carried an average of 168,726 daily customers, the best seven-day average since March 2020. The highest daily ridership at Grand Central Madison was achieved on Tuesday, April 11, with approximately 32,060 customers traveling in and out of the new Manhattan terminal.

To mark the milestone of one million rides being surpassed, the LIRR welcomed two Grand Central Madison customers to join the celebration: Ray Ragunauth and Karen Hamilton. Ragunauth is a physical therapist and Long Island resident, who, according to the agency, was “able to pursue new career opportunities on the East Side of Manhattan thanks to the shortened commute brought about by Grand Central Madison.” Hamilton is a resident of Laurelton, Queens, who, according to the agency, has benefited both from the introduction of more frequent service to stations within Queens and the opening of Grand Central Madison, where she frequently travels with her mother to medical appointments at NYU Langone Health.

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