USA: Cleveland Gets $15m Grant for New Rail Cars

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has been awarded 15 million USD from the BUILD grant to help it replace its rail fleet. The RTA will use these funds to contribute to the funding for 34 new Red Line rail cars.

LTK Engineering made a recommendation to RTA’s Board of Trustees in April 2019 that the organisation’s heavy rail fleet should be replaced within five years. An examination found that this was more cost-effective than refurbishing the existing vehicles. The LTK recommendation suggested that procurement for the heavy rail vehicles should start in 2020 with a delivery date of 2023. The fleet size should be 34 rail cars, creating an investment of 102 million USD (3 million USD per vehicle).

India Birdsong, CEO and General Manager, RTA, said:

“We are elated to hear of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announcement for the $15 million BUILD grant. This is an extraordinary opportunity, and we look forward to utilizing the award funds to advance our rail car replacement program as we dramatically modernize our aging rail fleet and bring our infrastructure into a state of good repair.”

RTA is replacing both its heavy rail and its light rail fleets for which the total investment required is 300 million USD. This figure includes the cost of the rail vehicles themselves and for the design and programme management, maintenance facility modifications, station and platform modifications, rail equipment and contingencies in support of the new rail cars.

India Birdsong:

“As Ohio's leader and only provider of rail for public transportation, our system has proven to be one of our region's greatest assets for mobility enhancement for Greater Cleveland residents. Now, with this federal grant investment, we are one step closer to eliminating the risk of losing this resource – a resource that offers mobility options to resident as they journey to school, work, health care and a host of other essential destinations each day.”

The RTA has a total of 74 rail cars. However, because these two fleets are ageing, their availability is poor. Consequently, the RTA can replace the 40 heavy rail vehicles with 34 heavy rail vehicles and the 34 light rail vehicles with 24 light rail vehicles because their greater availability will mean fewer units are needed. Procurement for the light rail vehicles is to begin in 2025.

Current funds available to the RTA are:

  • RTA Rolling Stock Reserve Fund: 44.1 million USD
  • FTA Formula Grants: 45 million USD
  • USDOT Build grant: 15 million USD
  • ODOT: 4.5 million USD
  • NOACA: 24 million USD

The RTA now has sufficient funding to proceed with a base contract for the new Red Line rail cars with contract options to purchase more cars as and when additional funding is secured.

The Red Line cars will be replaced first as they have the highest ridership numbers.

The RTA awarded the contract for the preparation of technical specifications for the new rail cars and for the provision of programme management services to LTK Consulting Services in January 2020. The RTA will advertise for requests for proposals this year. The rail car contract will likely be awarded in the second quarter of 2021 with the first shipment of new rail cars expected in late 2024.

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