Aggregate Industries helps keep Nottingham’s Trams on track for a decade  

Garside Specialist Sands, the specialist division of Aggregate Industries, continues to prove its technical and logistical prowess, having continued to supply Nottingham Express Transit (NET) with the rapid response requirement of technical grade sand needed to keep its vast tram network in peak operation for over a decade.

Opened in 2004, NET is made up of over 20 miles of track and 37 trams, each of which can carry the capacity equivalent to 170 cars. Today a vital part of the fabric of Nottingham, the busy tram network is responsible for nearly 19 million journeys per year – helping to reduce congestion on the city’s roads and support wider decarbonisation efforts.

As with most locomotive operations, a sanding system is used across the NET network to improve adhesion to both braking and acceleration by increasing the adhesion between the wheel and track in order to improve the friction ratio. This approach requires regular sand supply and deposition onto the rail interface between wheel and track. It also entails additional urgent supply requirements in response to inclement weather and leaf-fall.

Having originally relied on an imported sand supply, NET took the decision in 2014 to seek a UK-based supplier capable of ensuring a more accurate sand grading, along with the ability to provide silo specifications in emergency situations.

Enter Garside Sands, able to fulfil the daily requirement of an exacting 10/18 technical grade sand – a quartz derivative offering exceptional hardiness. As a huge benefit, the sand is supplied directly from the business’ Leighton Buzzard quarry and is readily and rapidly available via Garside Sand’s vast transport network. Deliveries range from one large tanker to as little as a one tonne pallet as needed to ensure NET’s needs are met around the clock

Fast forward to 10 years later and Garside Sands has supplied NET with over 2,500 tonnes of technical grade sand during this period, equating to a project value of more than £750k. Each batch of the high specification sand, which has to be perfectly rounded and bone dry, is batch tested every day on site for assured accuracy and technical compliance.

Lee Hall, supplies manager (Keolis) at NET, comments: “As we operate dense phase conveying to fill the sand boxes in our maintenance sheds, it’s incredibly important for us to have access to the most accurate sand grading possible. Working with Garside Sands, we have not only been able to achieve this but also have the benefit of accessing a local supply as and when we need it… and even at a moment’s notice.

“We can’t thank Garside Sands enough. They have very much become an extension of our team and continue to play an integral role in ensuring our sand system and, in turn, our operations run like clockwork.”

Clive Martin, commercial manager at Garside Sands, adds: “With ‘line of sight’ networks such as NET which operate amongst traffic and pedestrians, a robust, highly accurate sanding system is imperative to ensure the right level of adhesion so that a tram or train is able to stop in the correct distance. As the only UK-based specialist sands manufacturer and supplier, we are thrilled to continue to support NET with the technical grade sand required to ensure the safety and reliability of operations.”

Associated Businesses

  • Leighton Buzzard, LU7 9LF