Railway cable theft arrests double in Wales as costs to taxpayers surpass £1m in six months
The problem of cable theft from the railway, a dangerous, disruptive and costly crime, has led to a doubling of arrests since the start of 2023.
However, this crime has still cost taxpayers a whopping £1.1 million in the Wales and Borders route over the past six months.
Network Rail, in collaboration with British Transport Police, has made seven arrests since January 2023, up from three arrests each in 2020 and 2021, indicating a significant intensification in their efforts to tackle this issue.
The rise in arrests follows the implementation of innovative methods to crack down on the thefts, including the use of drones, security cameras, forensic marking agents, and the installation of more secure cables that are harder to steal and easier to identify.
Beyond cables, the theft of other metal items such as overhead power lines and metal fences is also a prevalent issue. In an effort to combat this, Network Rail is cooperating with the wider industry and scrap metal dealers under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, to ensure all scrap metal transactions are legitimate.
As Britain’s rail network is designed to fail safe, the cutting of a cable brings trains to a halt to ensure passenger safety. However, this can lead to extensive delays and repair costs, which are ultimately borne by taxpayers.
Andy Armstrong, programme manager for route crime and security for Network Rail Wales & Borders, commented on the situation, stating that the increase in arrests is a welcome development, but acknowledged the broader economic impact of these thefts, which affect not only Network Rail but also freight delays to power stations, supermarkets and passengers.
British Transport Police National Lead for Metal Crime, Superintendent Mark Cleland, emphasised the significant disruption caused by metal theft to the UK economy.
He said: “Metal crime is highly disruptive to the UK economy and the actions of those who steal metal can put their own lives and others lives at risk. BTP continue to run numerous operations targeting organised criminality ensuring we seek convictions and confiscate all assets to ensure no one can profit from this crime. ”
He reassured that the BTP is working closely with the rail and waste industries and partners, including the Joint Unit for Waste Crime and the National Economic Crime Centre, to target criminals who seek profit from such thefts.
He further stressed that severe implications await those who target national infrastructure.
As investigations continue, Network Rail is unable to provide specific locations of thefts due to pending trials and security considerations. Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com