Network Rail has announced the thieves have disrupted key worker journeys after ripping hundreds of metres of railway signalling cable.
Several locations in Network Rail’s North West and Central region have been targeted by thieves taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to carry out their crimes.
This has also disrupted freight trains carrying thousands of tonnes of food and products to supermarkets across the country.
Engineers worked throughout the night on Saturday (March 28) to replace 300 metres of cabling between Alderley Edge and Crewe in Cheshire.
This stretch of the railway has been targeted 28 times in the last 12 months.
Two hundred metres of cable was also stolen near Nuneaton in Warwickshire in the past fortnight.
These complex repairs require railway workers to work side by side, making it impossible for them to follow the social distancing rules during the pandemic.
Anyone witnessing suspicious behaviour on or around the railway should report it to British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016.
What did the officials say?
Andrea Graham, special project manager for route crime at Network Rail, said:
“At a time of national crisis, it’s despicable that criminals are targeting the railway which is vital to keep people and goods moving. Network Rail is working around the clock to keep services running smoothly so key workers can keep food on the shelves, police the streets, keep essential utilities running, and get staff to and from hospitals to treat the seriously ill.
“The fact we have to then repair reckless damage caused by criminals trying to profit from the pandemic – putting our staff at risk from having to work so closely together, really beggars’ belief. We condemn these thefts and will use the full force of the law to come down hard on those responsible.
“Trespassing on the railway is incredibly dangerous, as well as illegal. Thieves are not just risking a criminal record when they come onto the railway to commit crimes but risking their lives too.”
British Transport Police Chief Inspector, Gary Jones, said:
“In these challenging and unprecedented times acts like this are appalling, particularly as the rail network plays an important role in helping people make essential journeys to support the national effort. It also plays a critical role in the distribution of essential supplies around the UK. Everyone else should be staying at home to stop the spread of the virus, which helps saves lives.
“Offending to illegally obtain money by disrupting vital transport links shows a real disregard for the efforts of those who continue to work on the frontline, fighting this pandemic. It also puts lives at risk which could place further demand on the already stretched emergency services. Be assured that anyone who steals from the railway will face the strongest possible action.”
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