April 15, 2019

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Train delays because of UK cable thefts soar, says Network Rail

Workers on a railway track

The size of time passengers are being delayed on Great Britain’s railways because of cable thefts has reached a five-year excessive, new figures recommend.

The BBC’s 5 Live Investigates discovered there have been almost 950 hours of delays in 2018 throughout greater than 7,000 journeys in England, Wales and Scotland.

British Transport Police figures additionally present an 85% improve in stay cable thefts final 12 months.

Network Rail says thefts price the taxpayer thousands and thousands of kilos annually.

The figures don’t embody delays in Northern Ireland.

Metal laundering

Network Rail, which owns and maintains most of Great Britain’s railways, stated delays doubled from 2016-17, when 400 hours had been recorded throughout 3,000 prepare journeys.

More than three-quarters of the trains affected had been in or round London.

Police say a rise in international copper costs is resulting in extra organised gangs and opportunists ripping up or chopping down cables.

Rail delays attributable to cable theft

Thieves steal cables for the copper inside them, after which promote the metallic on as scrap.

Supt Mark Cleland, from British Transport Police, stated: “All metal theft is primarily driven by the price of metal so, as metal rises in value, we see a trend that crime rises with it. At the moment we’re in this upward trend of the price of metal rising.”

Experts say that even when the cable is security-marked, it may be made untraceable by stripping the rubber and granulating the metallic at scrapyards.

‘Extremely harmful’

James Nattrass, director of incident administration and operational safety at Network Rail, stated cable theft was “not a victimless crime”.

“It prices the taxpayer thousands and thousands of kilos a 12 months, and the overall price to the financial system is even larger when you think about the influence of delays to freight, and to passengers who need to get work.

“Not solely is it disruptive for our passengers, it’s also extraordinarily harmful for the perpetrators. Thousands of volts of electrical energy run via cables and interfering with them will be deadly.”

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act was launched in 2013 to attempt to clamp down on metallic thefts – with money gross sales banned and all sellers needing a licence.

But a Freedom of Information request confirmed that final 12 months in England, a 3rd of cellular scrap collectors had not renewed their licences.

The Local Government Association defended the act, saying: “A drop within the present ranges of renewals could possibly be for a quantity of causes, not least one being that the act has subsequently discouraged these companies who weren’t working inside the regulation.”

A Home Office spokesperson stated the act “continues to play a basic half of our efforts to deal with metallic theft by eradicating the alternatives for criminals to dispose of stolen metallic”.

You can hear extra on 5 Live Investigates at 11:00 BST on Sunday 14 April on BBC Radio 5 Live – or catch up in a while BBC Sounds.

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