Network Rail calls for cable theft law reform
Posted: 27 July 2012 | | No comments yet
Almost 1km of signalling cable was stolen from the railway between Luton and Bedford overnight…
Almost 1km of signalling cable was stolen from the railway between Luton and Bedford overnight
Vandalism and cable theft on the railway in Bedfordshire is causing significant delays and disruption to passengers travelling between London and St Albans, Luton, Bedford and the East Midlands today.
Almost 1km of signalling cable was stolen from the railway between Luton and Bedford overnight. Network Rail engineers have been on the scene since the small hours and continue to work to replace and fix damaged and stolen cable from a number of locations. Signalling was restored at around 3pm, however it is likely that disruption will continue for the remainder of the day. Metal thieves directly cost the railway around £19m each year, with the knock on costs and disruption to the economy around the same amount again. Network Rail, which supports a bill currently before parliament to strengthen regulation of scrap metal dealers, says that while increased security and anti-theft measures are helping drive down the number of cable thefts, this incident highlights the need to choke off the market for illegal metal at its source.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail route managing director, said: “This morning’s incident shows the huge damage that just one incident can do. We firmly believe that without legal reform we will continue to see thousands of hours of delay and millions of pounds wasted on these crimes. “Network Rail has taken extensive measures to protect our vital railway but we are only stemming the tide. Reform that effectively takes away the illegal market in scrap metal, including an effective licensing regime and adequate power to police and magistrates, is sorely needed to help stamp out the misery caused by these thieves. “It takes just one criminal to disrupt people’s journeys and we urge anyone with information about this theft to contact the British Transport Police.”
David Horne, managing director of East Midlands Trains, said: “We are extremely frustrated and disappointed that our passengers are being disrupted as a result of the irresponsible actions of petty criminals. “We will continue to work with Network Rail to try and stamp out future incidents of cable theft and will also be working hard with them to minimise any further disruption.”
First Capital Connect customer service director Keith Jipps said: “This deliberate criminal act has caused huge delays to thousands of our customers and has been intensely frustrating for us all. “We worked through the night to release trains trapped in sidings and despite having 20% fewer carriages have been running as many services as we can. “Buses were hard to come by this morning because many firms are committed to the Olympics but with coaches from as far afield as South Wales we have been able to supplement the service. “We can only apologise to our passengers for what has been a very difficult day and urge them to seek alternative transport wherever possible as the disruption continues into this evening.”
A British Transport Police spokesperson said: “Stealing or attempting to steal cable is extremely dangerous and anyone who has information about the incident is asked to come forward. “What thieves don’t realise is that the cable they are trying to steal could be live, carrying up to 25,000 volts, which can cause extensive burns. By attempting to steal it they are not only risking a court appearance, they are risking their lives.”