Tom Keighley

Cable theft down on Anglia train routes

Cable theft across train routes in the Anglia had increased by 52% in the last financial year but since January the number of incidents has begun to fall.

The Anglia route, which covers the lines out of Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street, has been targeted by organised crime gangs, as well as opportunist thieves, stealing smaller amounts of cable.

Investment by Network Rail and the establishment of a new cable theft taskforce in Anglia to tackle the issue, has caused crimes to fall.

Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director, said: “With the price of copper remaining high, thieves are continuing to target the railway for metal to sell as scrap.

“We have seen an increase in the number of cable incidents from last year but our massive effort with the British Transport Police and the train companies is having an effect.

“The number of incidents is still too high and continues to have an impact on passengers and the rail industry.

“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.”

The Government has indicated that cash transactions for scrap will be outlawed, however, Network Rail along with the wider rail industry are calling for full reform of the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers Act.

Among the further measures they suggest an updated, fully funded licensing scheme to replace the voluntary registration currently in place and further powers for magistrates to impose restrictions upon, and ultimately enforce the closure of yards that fail to keep to the law.

Mr Ward added: “We are grateful for the public support we continue to receive in reporting suspicious activity – both on the railway and at disreputable scrap dealers.

“We will continue to do all we can to stop these thieves but it is clear the law needs substantial change in order to take away the easy market for illegal scrap.”

Nationally, the total direct cost to the industry, and ultimately the taxpayer and country, continue to rise from £16.4m to £18.3m; an increase of 12% because the thefts have spread to busier and more complex parts of the network.

The Anglia route is a key route for the 2012 Olympics, and throughout the period, it will be patrolled.

Ruud Haket, Managing Director, Greater Anglia said: “It is encouraging that we have seen a reduction in the instances of cable theft so far this year, but it is important that we continue to remain vigilant in partnership with our colleagues at Network Rail and the British Transport Police to further reduce the effect of these crimes, and to work towards the introduction of firmer legislation.”

Kevin Frazer, Operations Director for c2c said: “Last year cable theft was one of the biggest causes of delays for c2c passengers.

“We’ve been doing what we can with Network Rail and British Transport Police to improve the situation, but the rail industry can’t resolve this problem on its own.

“We believe the Government needs to introduce new legislation tackling this issue, and that thousands of our passengers will benefit from it.”

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