Paddington Station 24/7 – Dedicated staff work hard to overcome delays and disruption caused by attempted cable theft: Welcome to Paddington

Monday 23 Apr 2018

Paddington Station 24/7 – Dedicated staff work hard to overcome delays and disruption caused by attempted cable theft


The second series of the behind the scenes documentary Paddington Station 24/7 continues on Monday 23 April, as staff are faced with severely disrupted services due to an attempted cable theft in the Bristol area.

The eight-part first series achieved a consistently high audience share for the Monday 9pm slot, averaging 1.3 million viewers per episode. Series two is already proving to be a big hit, with 1.96 million people watching the second episode either on TV or via the My5 catch-up app. The series follows railway workers on the Great Western Mainline as they deal with the biggest modernisation of the line for generations, major incidents which are causing disruption on the railway, huge sporting events, as well as the day-to-day challenge of running one of Britain’s busiest stations.

This week, Dave Withers, mobile operations manager for the Bristol area, starts his day with some bad news – a major signal failure has occurred overnight in the Filton Abbey Wood area of Bristol. Services are already severely delayed or cancelled, and the disruption is beginning to affect trains across the network as drivers, train crew, and locomotives are not where they should be.

Arriving on site, Dave Withers has discovered the reason for the signal failure. An attempt has been made to steal an important signalling cable near Filton Abbey Wood, close to Bristol Parkway – a vital station on the Western route. This particular cable is crucial to the operation of the signals, connecting to a piece of equipment called an axle counter, which alerts the signaller to the presence of a train on the line.  The attempted theft means that all services across Bristol are at a standstill. 

Dave Withers, mobile operations manager for the Bristol area, explains how he worked to keep trains moving safely:

“Because of the amount of cable damage in the Lockleaze area of Bristol, I had to manually operate the points at Stoke West junction – this was no easy task and definitely kept me fit as I had to check the route by walking it, a distance of approximately a third of a mile from end to end.

Stoke West is where trains from Bristol and South West England meet with services from South Wales, so the extent and layout of the junction is complex. I was able to manually operate the points as required to keep trains moving and allow passengers to complete their journey. Although service disruption was inevitable and passengers arrived at their destinations late, it was vital that we kept people safe”.

The impact of the cable theft was felt throughout the morning and into the early afternoon, with over 4000 train delay minutes accrued, 89 services terminating prior to their scheduled final destinations, and 34 trains fully cancelled. The cost of installing the new cable, staff time to trace and remedy the problem, plus the diversion of resources away from other planned work was considerable, in addition to over £500k in costs related to service disruption.  Tonight’s episode shows the extent to which cable theft can affect the network, as well as the dedication of staff working to resolve the problem and keep the railways moving and, above all, safe.

The fifth episode of Paddington Station 24/7 will be aired on Monday 23 April on Channel 5 at 9pm, with each subsequent episode shown on Monday evenings at the same time.


Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Network Rail press office -Western route
07730 354394

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.7 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

We are building a better railway for a better Britain.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: