Network Rail cracks down on metal cable thieves in South Yorkshire

Network Rail and the British Transport Police are using new surveillance techniques to stop railway vandals in South Yorkshire.

Network Rail thieves

Credit: Network Rail

Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) are cracking down on metal cable thieves in South Yorkshire after responding to daily offences in April 2022. The theft of signalling cables, electric wires and metal equipment from areas including Rotherham, Sheffield and Aldwarke has cost Network Rail over £280,000 since April 2021. As an arms-length Government body, this cost is ultimately paid by taxpayers.

Passengers have also had their journeys delayed by 89 hours in the last year as each offence causes widespread disruption. When a cable is cut, trains are brought to a standstill, which leads to frustrating delays that have a knock-on effect across the network.

The number of offences has risen as the price of copper increases, with incidents being reported daily in the first week of April 2022. Cash trades for scrap metal are illegal without exception and subject to unlimited fines.

Network Rail and the BTP are now using new ways to catch thieves in the act, so that the criminals can be taken to court. Learning from successful prosecutions, teams are stepping up their proactive patrols and using real time surveillance techniques to monitor hotspot areas.

“The impact of railway cable theft mustn’t be underestimated, not only does it waste taxpayers’ money and frustratingly make passengers late, but it also holds up the delivery of important freight supplies and takes key railway staff away from their work,” Olga Barannikova, Area Customer Services and Performance Manager for Network Rail, said. “We are constantly finding new ways to catch offenders, and I know that this new push with the BTP will help us to hammer home that trespassing, vandalism and theft will not be tolerated on Britain’s railway.”

“The theft of cable from the railway is far from a victimless crime,” Darren Martin, Disruption Team Member for BTP, said. “It costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year, causing delays and increases in costs to projects which have a knock-on effect on passengers. We continue to work with Network Rail to modernise and enhance our resources to catch cable thieves in the act.”