Trains delayed because thieves steal cables for scrap value

In southeast England, trains have been delayed because thieves stole electrical cables from railroad tracks because of their scrap value.

British Transport Police (BTP) officers in Essex shared details of an incident on Twitter, saying they would “work hard to reduce the disruption to your travel”.

The tweet included photos showing large amounts of stolen cables that had been confiscated by officials.

They said the thefts affected c2c services that serve East London and Essex, as well as the Greater Anglia network that covers Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk and parts of Hetfordshire.

The tweet reads: “Delays at c2c Rail and Greater Anglia can be caused by thieves stealing railway cables.

“Sold as scrap, it is stripped down and incomprehensible.

“We had to call Network Rail Anglia yesterday to retrieve the stolen cable. We are working hard to reduce the disruption to your travel.”

Network Rail’s website states, “Cable theft costs us millions of pounds each year. The total cost to the economy – considering the impact of freight delays at power plants and supermarkets, and passengers who miss appointments or ruin their day – is even higher.

“Metal theft is a big problem for the railroad as thieves target signal cables, overhead lines and even metal fences to sell for scrap.

“The UK rail network is designed to be resilient. If a cable is cut, trains will come to a standstill. This will protect passengers, but can cause long, frustrating delays while the problem is found and safely resolved.

“Much of our funding comes from the government, so these thefts ultimately cost taxpayers money.”

“We’ve done a lot of work to fight cable theft, including:

  • Funding British Traffic Cops
  • Using CCTV to alert us that people are on the network and to assist the police
  • Installation of new ways to secure cables
  • using forensic markers
  • Introducing cables that are harder to steal and easier to identify
  • and set up a dedicated security team.

“Together with other major infrastructure providers, we have successfully campaigned the government for the implementation of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.

Trains delayed because thieves steal cables for scrap value 1

The law means:

  • Scrap dealers must be licensed and local authorities have the power to reject unsuitable applicants and revoke licenses
  • The police are empowered by court order to close unlicensed junkyards
  • All metal vendors are required to have verifiable identification that dealers must record and keep
  • Cash transactions for scrap metal are invariably illegal and subject to unlimited fines
  • A public national register of scrap dealers has been established.

“This will help ensure that scrap metal sales are accounted for and that everyone who trades scrap is right to do so.

“You can help by reporting suspicious behavior on the tracks to the UK traffic police:

  • 0800 40 50 40
  • Text 61016
  • In an emergency call 999

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