Leicester

Cable theft in East Midlands costs more than £200,000

Copper thefts from railways in the East Midlands have cost Network Rail more than £200,000 in compensation in the past year, it has said.

The knock-on effect of delays to journeys, which totalled more than 100 hours over the same period, meant the company had to pay out to passengers.

In February, two men from Newark were jailed for stealing cables which delayed more than 136 services.

Network Rail said the thefts were down to rising scrap copper prices.

Special patrols

Rachel Lowe of Network Rail said metal theft was a widespread problem across the UK, with estimated business losses of £43m from compensation and delays over the past three years.

There was a 52% increase in attacks on the rail system, bringing the number to almost 1,000 in the UK over the past year, Network Rail said.

"It is a massive problem that is undermining the railway's ability to deliver the timetable that the passengers expect," she said.

She said special patrols were being carried out by British Transport Police to tackle the problem.

Delays could be massive if cable was stolen from a crucial area of the rail network, she added.

On 3 February, Nottingham Crown Court heard the theft of 82ft (25m) of cable near Crankley Point, Newark, in October 2010, cost £75,000 in damage and delays.

The copper was sold for £44.

Damien Kelham, of Castle Gate, and 28-year-old Billy Mitchell, of Montgomery Road, admitted the theft and were each jailed for three years.

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