Heavy lifting specialist Mechan is helping VolkerFitzpatrick transform the tight confines of a depot into a time-saving route to more efficient train maintenance.

The Sheffield-based manufacturer has designed and built a bespoke traverser at the Ilford based facility, to manoeuvre rail carriages around a new paint shop.

Mechan was asked to produce a 130t, two road traverser by VolkerFitzpatrick who is building a new stabling depot for London’s £14.8bn Crossrail project. Ilford is one of the depots that will maintain the trains operating on the railway. Due to the limited space available, it was not possible to use sidings to transfer carriages from the shot blast bay to the paint booth, so an alternative solution was required.

Martin Berry, Mechan’s engineering director, said: "Major changes are being made to Ilford Yard as part of the Crossrail project. Having collaborated on a similar project at the Port of Felixstowe, VolkerFitzpatrick knew we had the capacity and technical know-how to create a suitable traverser for the paint shop. Regardless of available space, the sheer size of these machines makes them pretty special and each one has to be tailored to the unique demands of its intended location."

The 28m long traverser was constructed and tested at Mechan’s headquarters before being disassembled and moved to site in components small enough to fit into the new Ilford facility. It was then rebuilt on site by the firm’s engineers and proof tested to carry loads of 162t, before entering service.

The Crossrail project is a major new addition to the rail network in London and the South East, connecting suburban districts with key locations, including Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow. It will increase central London’s rail capacity by 10% and will be fully operational by 2019.