Sheffield-based rail depot equipment specialist, Mechan, is celebrating after securing its first order for sand-filling systems from a tram operator.

Mechan is supplying two automated sand-filling systems to Manchester Metrolink, as part of a major investment expanding the city’s tram network.

The first of the two innovative sand systems will be installed at Metrolink’s existing Queen’s Road depot, whilst the second will be housed in a new depot being built at Trafford Bar on the Altrincham line to the south of Manchester.

The new systems will enable the stocks of sand held onboard trams to be replenished by just one operator via an ergonomically designed nozzle, similar to those used to refuel a car. This eliminates the spills, waste and health and safety issues associated with traditional sand-filling methods and reduces the time and labour needed to carry out the procedure.

Mechan has been commissioned to supply additional depot maintenance equipment for the Queens Road site, including four new 10t jacks, workstands and bogie-stacking frames. The company is also making modifications to the existing bogie press, to facilitate more accurate positioning and additional load cells.

Richard Carr, Mechan’s managing director, said: “Sand-filling systems are a relatively new addition to our product portfolio and we are very excited to have secured an order for two, so soon after introducing them to the UK market. The systems offer a much improved alternative to traditional sand-filling methods and will be a valuable addition to the Manchester Metrolink extension.”

Philip Purdy, GMPTE’s Metrolink director, said: “We’re pleased to have been able to take this step, especially as we have been able to appoint a local supplier.”