The Irish tram network is maintaining the highest standards of rail safety, thanks to technology provided by depot equipment specialist, Mechan.

Sheffield-based Mechan has supplied Alstom Ireland, caretakers of the Luas tram network, with innovative laser measuring device, CALIPRI, to monitor rail and switch deterioration.

The handheld, non-contact scanner records all relevant wear parameters and was delivered to Alstom with software modules to analyse key data on flat bottom and grooved rails, as well as switch frogs and blades – the points at which diverging rails connect.

Mechan supplied the device in conjunction with Austrian manufacturer, NextSense, for whom it is the sole UK and Irish representative. Training was also conducted at Luas’ Red Cow depot in Dublin, where the CALIPRI is now stored.

John McNally, Alstom’s maintenance engineer, said: "Having decided that our existing rail measurer needed replacing, we were looking actively for alternatives when we discovered the CALIPRI. Mechan came to Ireland to demonstrate its capabilities and the data recorded during this visit compared very favourably against competitor products. It is now in regular operation in the field and we are very happy with its lightweight design and portability."

Alstom uses the CALIPRI to measure rail head and gauge corners to assess wear against pre-set parameters. The operator can see in real time whether its findings are acceptable and then record data in the accompanying software modules, where it is analysed alongside previous results.

Adam Elliott, Mechan’s sales engineer, added: "CALIPRI uses contactless laser technology so it does not have to be applied to the rail directly or aligned precisely, which means measurement values are reliable, reproducible and free of human influence. We continue to support Alstom’s use of the device and we are confident it will become increasingly valuable as operatives become more familiar with its capabilities."

CALIPRI is one of several European innovations that Mechan is introducing to the UK and Irish markets.