Cable Theft Caused Chaos At Wandsworth Town Station

SW Trains confirmed 100 metres stolen in Twickenham area

Network Rail has confirmed that a signalling problem which
has disrupted South West Trains services through Twickenham yesterday (12 December 2011) has been caused by a serious cable theft incident.

More than 100 metres of copper cabling has been stolen, which has had a serious impact on South West Trains services throughout the morning.

Network Rail engineers are currently on site to identify how quickly the cable can be replaced to allow the signals to become operational again to allow South West Trains to resume its normal service.

Jake Kelly, Customer Service Director for South West Trains, said:
 “This once again highlights the serious impact that cable theft is having on the UK rail network and other parts of the country's infrastructure. We operate one of the busiest commuter rail networks in Europe. Along with our customers, we are extremely angry at the disruption that has been caused to passengers by mindless thieves trying to make a fast buck.

“We will continue to work with Network Rail and other industry partners to lobby for tighter regulation on cable theft to try and prevent rail passengers being disrupted by this criminal activity.  We would also urge MPs to use their vote to support the Bill which has been put before Parliament proposing a licensing regime for scrap metal merchants."

Richard O’Brien, Network Rail Wessex route managing director, said:
“Yet again, passengers in London have suffered delays and disruption because of mindless cable thieves targeting the railway. Our engineers are working to restore normal service in time for people’s journeys home this evening. Whoever committed this crime has shown complete disregard for the travelling public and we will assist British Transport Police to see that the culprits are caught.  Working with BTP and South West Trains, we’re doing all we can to protect the network from thieves. To an extent our actions can help us manage the crimes but, despite our efforts, they continue to increase. We believe that the only way to significantly reduce metal crime is to take away the illegal market and that more robust legislation and police powers are needed to achieve that.”

Richard Tracey, London Assembly Member for Wandsworth and Merton, said: "I, and my Conservative colleagues in London Assembly, have been campaigning for some weeks to persuade the Government to tighten the law relating to scrap metal dealers, their records and payments, which we believe are not tight enough."

Earlier this year, Stagecoach Group, which operates the South West Trains franchise, launched a campaign calling for tighter regulation against cable theft through the introduction of tough new measures, including new rules to clamp down on unscrupulous scrap metal dealers.

Cable theft on the rail industry has grown by around a third between 2008/9 and 2010/11 - despite a wide range of industry measures such as burying cables, use of CCTV, special identifiers on cables, invisible marking of cable, securing cable in place, the use of trembler alarms and a scrap dealer education programme in partnership with British Transport Police (BTP). Extra, dedicated BTP officers are also being recruited. 

The rail industry leads a cross-business group representing the main sectors of the economy affected by the problem, including power and telecommunications. The estimated annual cost to the UK economy of metal theft is around £770m. 

In partnership with BTP and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the rail industry is also involved in steps to make cable and metal increasingly difficult to steal, as well as pushing for tougher sentencing, measures to reduce the value of stolen materials and pressing for legislative change to help eradicate the illegal market in stolen metal.

December 13, 2011