Network Rail Logo

Cox Wokingham & Network Rail


Network Rail is responsible for delivering reliable travel services to the millions of commuters who utilise Europe’s fastest-growing railway every day. As well as the vast number of commuters that Network Rail supports, the not-for-profit organisation is also an essential component of many business supply chains. 


For example, along Network Rail’s freight lines, huge quantities of materials such as grit and sand are transported all over the UK. During this transportation, it is common for vehicles to leak small quantities of grit across the tracks whilst they’re in transit.


Cranks & Grit Leaks


This leaking can become a serious issue. Throughout contemporary railways, cranks are utilised to shift tracks from one line to another – thus allowing trains to access different lines and thus reach different destinations. Leaked grit can wreak havoc on these cranks, which, as one can imagine, is at best very inconvenient, or at worst potentially very dangerous.


In order to combat the crank degradation caused by grit and sand leaks, Network Rail deployed various measures such as CCTV to monitor freight cargo and crank operation, as well as improving the sealing within the carriages which transport said grit and sand. Whilst effective, these measures did not completely solve the problem.


The Third Line of Defence


As such, Network Rail enlisted the services of Cox Wokingham to develop the third line of defence to better protect the cranks in operation throughout the enormous network of tracks under the responsibility of the organisation.


Cox Wokingham began the close working partnership with Network Rail by first seeking to understand precisely what was required in order to make the project a success. In order to effectively combat leaked grit and sand from seeping into the cranks, it became clear that a functional cover would need to be designed and installed. However, this cover would not only have to keep out grit, but it would also have to consistently withstand the extremely testing conditions that components operating across rail networks are subjected to.


Off the back of these initial discussions, and with the unique requirements in mind, specialist Cox Wokingham designers began formulating a product which could effectively stop grit from getting into rail cranks. 


The Production Process


After an iterative process of design and prototyping, the productive relationship between Cox and Network Rail led to the creation of a bespoke crank cover (see below picture).



The crank cover was produced using a bright yellow polycarbonate base structure and features a clear plastic roof with Network Rail branding. To achieve the highly-detailed finish, the crank covers were firstly vacuum formed. They were then finished via a process of CNC machining and fabrication.


Crucially, Network Rail was able to save immense amounts of time and money as Cox Wokingham managed the entire process, from end-to-end.


In practice, this meant that Cox were responsible for:



With Cox Wokingham managing the entire production journey, all the way from inception to delivery, Network Rail were provided with a solution which was fully assembled out of the box and could be immediately fixed to the cranks on the tracks. This again saved Network Rail immeasurable time and money.


Moreover, even more fundamental than a fully assembled product, the crank cover designed by Cox Wokingham in conjunction with Network Rail solved the problem it was intended to solve.


See the crank cover in action below.


rail crank cover

man operating a workshop machine

man using a hot-glue gun in a workshop

A Fully Managed Service At Cox Wokingham


At Cox Wokingham Plastics, we offer the full spectrum of services from Concept Support, Tool Making, Material Selection, Fabrication and Assembly to complement our Vacuum Forming, High Pressure Forming, and CNC Machining process.


Get In Touch Today

Would you like to know more about how we might be able to help your business?

If you would like more information about what we do, or more help deciding which moulding option is best for you, please visit our website or contact a member of our team on or call 0118 977 4861 and ask for Iain Carstairs or Shaun Hamill. We at Cox Wokingham look forward to being of service to you.



Our approach is that every challenge is an opportunity to experiment, to innovate and to further our skills to the benefit of our customers.

Learn More



COX’s expertise in the planning and production of prototype pieces is your shortcut to the right solution. Right on specification. Right on practicality and performance. And right on budget.

Learn More



COX offers a comprehensive range of thermoforming services, including vacuum forming, press forming and line bending.

Learn More



As well as having the skills and experience to push the limits of High Pressure Forming, COX also offers the technology in the shape of its huge GEISS T10 Pressure Former machine.

Learn More



Through a wide range of high-quality Fabrication services, we have the facility to add extra value for our customers.

Learn More



Years of experience and application have given us an unrivalled reputation in advising on the properties and performance potential of a huge range of materials.

Learn More



Our design, toolmaking and manufacturing services are second to none. From solving complex CNC programming issues to creating intricate jigs and specialist fixtures, the first step of a successful project is speaking to COX.

Learn More



Our CNC machining capabilities are high on our list of specialisms. Whatever your requirements, we have the expertise and technology to develop the solution that’s exactly right for you.

Learn More



We offer our customers a range of assembly and sub-assembly services, including painting, screening and shielding.

Learn More



We can take care of all of your world-wide distribution requirements and export documentation.