86% drop in rail delay caused by cable theft in Anglia: Cable theft passenger poster

Monday 15 Apr 2013

86% drop in rail delay caused by cable theft in Anglia

Region & Route:
| Eastern: Anglia
| Eastern
  • Delay minutes down 86% on Network Rail’s Anglia route
  • Number of cable theft incidents affecting rail services down 82%
  • Network Rail and BTP will continue to work to reduce incidents further

Years of work to tackle the issue of metal theft on the railway in the Anglia route has seen the number of incidents drop by 82%, the latest cable theft figures show.

Network Rail has been working with partners from the rail industry as well as other infrastructure and utilities companies to tackle this crime, which caused 625 hours of delays to trains across the region in 2011/12. As a result of these efforts, delays were down to 85 hours 2011/12.

Richard Schofield, Network Rail route managing director, said: “These figures are great news for passengers and our freight customers. The improvements we have seen are down to a number of factors, including British Transport Police targeting thieves and the scrap dealers buying stolen metal.

"We’ve worked with suppliers and other industries to make metal – particularly our cables – harder to steal and easier to identify and had teams around the network looking at new ways of working to reduce delay and fix thefts more quickly. The introduction of new laws, following our work with other industries to explain the need for change to government, will make a real difference in stifling the market for stolen metal.

“I want to thank everyone who has been involved in securing this success, including members of the public who have reported suspicious behaviour to police. We are not complacent that this issue is solved and we will continue to work to further reduce cost and delay caused by thieves on our railway.”

Detective Inspector Nick Brook, from BTP's dedicated metal theft team, said: “The significant reductions during the past 12 months are encouraging and are testament to the work done by police and partner agencies to increase the risk of detection and prosecution to offenders, whilst also reducing the potential rewards for their criminal behaviour. We cannot, however, take our eye off the ball and will continue to develop initiatives and tactics to make life even more challenging for thieves and unscrupulous metal recyclers.

“Tackling metal theft in an effective manner is now embedded across police forces and within several industries and, with new legislation due to come into force later this year, there can be no doubt that the UK remains committed to tackling a crime which strikes at the very heart of its infrastructure.”

In January this year, a cable gang of five, who cost the industry almost £715k by stealing live cable from the railway in Leicestershire and Buckinghamshire and along the Anglia route in London, Hertfordshire and Essex, were jailed for more than 12 years. Christopher Cruz, Shaun Nembhard and Bill Lee – all from Basildon, Essex – and Simon Scott, from Leeds, were sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal cable.

DI Brook added: “The sentences handed by the courts now show that it is simply not worth considering stealing cable from the railway network. BTP is absolutely committed to tackling metal theft in the east of England and across the country, and officers continue to work with the railway industry and Home Office forces to carry out joint operations at scrap metal dealers to interrupt criminal activity. However, we are not complacent and we will continue to work to bring those who work outside the law to justice.”

Ruud Haket, Managing Director, Greater Anglia said: "I very much welcome the reduction in delays caused by cable theft and I am grateful to Network Rail for their work and positive approach in dealing with this matter. Through our alliance with Network Rail and in close partnership with the British Transport Police we have been pleased to contribute to the successful work in tackling this crime. This is good news for our customers with improving train service performance over the past year and in helping to deliver the best-ever annual average punctuality for the Greater Anglia network."

c2c Managing Director Julian Drury said: “This cut in delays is great news for passengers, as cable theft has been a thorn in our side in recent years. The rail industry has worked together to tackle this problem, and it’s passengers who are benefitting – slashing delays caused by cable theft has helped enable c2c to set the UK record for punctuality over the past year.”

It is hoped that the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013, which was passed by Parliament earlier this year and is due to come into force in the autumn, will provide a further boost to the rail industry’s efforts to clamp down on cable thieves. The new law targets rogue scrap metal dealers who trade in stolen metal, bringing in mandatory licensing of scrap metal dealers and outlawing cash payments for metal.

The Anglia route includes the main lines out of Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street and their branch lines, covering parts of London, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

Notes to editors

Figures for the Anglia route:


Number of incidents: 113
Trains affected: 4,312
Delay minutes*: 37,497 (625 hours)
Cost ** (compensation to train operators): £1,691,373


Number of incidents: 20
Trains affected: 866
Delay minutes*: 5,103 (85 hours)
Cost ** (compensation to train operators): £330,521

* Delay minutes show the inconvenience experienced by the passenger and vary with each incident. If the theft is on a busy mainline then they rack up much quicker than on quieter suburban lines.

** Compensation costs (known as schedule 8 costs) are paid to train and freight operators for the disruption caused by the delay. This payment is to reimburse the operators who pay in advance for access to the track which the theft has prevented; to cover additional staff and other costs and to reimburse passengers who have been affected. This is a substantial part of the cost to the industry of cable theft but does not include the cost of staff time to repair and replace the cable, replacement cable itself and the cost of mitigation measures such as security patrols and investment in new technology. The amount of compensation paid depends on the type of services delayed.

It is already illegal to sell scrap metal for cash – this legislation came in December 2012.

Network Rail supported the private member's Bill introduced by Richard Ottaway MP to regulate scrap metal dealers. The Bill was passed in February 2013 and the act will become enforceable in autumn 2013.

The Home Office are issuing guidance to councils, police, the legal services and all those involved with the implementation of the Act.

The key features of the Act are:

• Scrap metal dealers must be licensed and local authorities have the power to refuse unsuitable applicants and revoke licences
• Police will have the power by court order to close unlicensed scrap yards
• All sellers of metal must show verifiable ID which dealers must record and retain
• Cash trades for scrap metal are now illegal without exception and subject to unlimited fines
• A public national register of scrap metal dealers will be created
• This will help make sure that sales of scrap metal are accounted for and that all people trading scrap are doing so legitimately.

BTP press office contact
Simon Letouze
Senior Press Officer, Media and Marketing
Office 0300 123 9104
Mobile 07795 255 745
Email Simon.Letouze@btp.pnn.police.uk

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