Cable theft has delayed 6,000 trains

CABLE theft on the region’s railways has delayed passengers by 1,232 hours and led to more than 6,000 delayed trains on busy routes through Crow country, such as Cambridge to London.

New figures released by Network Rail show the rising cost of thieves stealing cable for scrap metal - such thefts cost the Anglia region �4.5 million in 2010/11.

After 179 incidents in the region there were 603 cancelled trains and 6,193 trains, affecting stations such as Royston, Ashwell and Morden, Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton.

Criminals target the cables which control vital rail infrastructure such as signals and points. The cables are sold on for scrap metal.

Alan Pacey, assistant chief constable of British Transport Police, said: “The railways have seen significant delays and cancellations as a result of thieves cutting and stealing signalling and power cables from the side of the track.

“But we are working to tackle this issue and in the past few months have seen significant jail sentences handed down to cable thieves put before the courts.”

In March, thieves stole copper cable from an electricity supply cable at Cambridge station causing a loss of power to the station during the morning rush hour.

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Andrew Munden is the Network Rail director for Anglia. He called the thefts, which have risen nationally by 52 per cent over the last year, to stop.

“Every day passengers and essential frieght deliveries upon which our economy relies are being delayed by thieves looking to make a quick buck at our expense,” he said.

“I cannot over-emphasise just how serious these crimes are.”

He added the thefts deny improvements to rail services because of the costs to the industry.

Nationally, vandals have cost the rail industry nearly �43 million over the last three years causing more than 16,000 hours of delays.

British Transport Police offer up to �1,000 rewards for information leading to the conviction of a cable thief.