Railway safety and crime

16.08.17

Thieves make off with £90,000 of copper wire from railway in Staffordshire

Thieves have stolen more than £90,000 worth of copper wire from the railway over the past six weeks in Staffordshire, Network Rail has today stated.

Around 3,650 metres of copper cable was removed by criminals, and police believe that the power, signalling and communications wire was stolen to order before being sold abroad as part of an international crime ring.

It is estimated that the cost of the theft for replacing the copper and carrying out any necessary repairs could take a £300,000 chunk out of the taxpayers’ pocket.

Network Rail said it is working closely with the British Transport Police (BTP) to put a stop to the activity, and has urged passengers who see anything suspicious on the West Coast Main Line between Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford to immediately tell the police.

Copper thief damage on West Coast main line in Staffordshire

Copper theft damage on the West Coast main line in Staffordshire

“The cost to taxpayers of replacing the copper wire stolen in the past three weeks is approaching £300,000,” said Karl Weller, Network Rail section manager based at Stafford.

“When signalling cables are removed the signalling and telecommunication systems of the railway do not work and trains can’t run. The impact on customers will get worse if these thieves are not caught.

“If you see anything suspicious – gates left open, non-railway staff on the tracks, suspicious vehicles, fences removed and the like – while travelling on the West Coast Main Line and branch lines in the area, particularly between Crewe, Stoke and Stafford, please call the British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016, alternatively call Network Rail on 03457 114141.”

Chief inspector Andrea Graham from the BTP said the police were doing everything in their power to track down the criminals who are causing the travelling public delays during the very busy summer holiday season.

“Not only is this kind of crime disruptive it is extremely dangerous for those responsible,” she warned. “Thousands of volts of electricity run through those cables and interfering with them can be fatal. Officers are working round the clock to investigate all avenue of enquiry to identify those responsible.”

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Comments

Andrew Gwilt   17/08/2017 at 03:09

It also happened on the London-Norwich main line and branch lines in Essex and even on other lines across London & Southeast. Why do thieves steal copper wires (25,000v AC overhead cables) that are still live. No wonder they suffer with 3rd degree burns and even killed by live overhead cables.

Pdeaves   18/08/2017 at 11:12

"Thousands of volts of electricity run through those cables", so says the BTP. Volts don't run anywhere, amps do. The cables could be at a /potential/ of thousands of volts...

John Webster   19/08/2017 at 21:04

It's not overhead cables they are stealing it is lineside cabling for the operation of signals and points. Yes, it is live, but not 25kV!

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