Birmingham & Black Country

Drop in railway cable thefts, Network Rail says

The number of cable thefts on the railways in the West Midlands has dropped, Network Rail figures show.

There were 16 thefts between 2011-12, compared to 58 in 2010 and 43 in 2009.

New measures to try to prevent the thefts - using smart water and covert cameras at theft hotspots - have helped, it is believed.

British Transport Police (BTP) has described the offence of cable theft as one of its biggest challenges.

The Network Rail figures cover Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry and parts of Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire.

'Easily identified'

The 16 thefts have delayed 1,643 trains from last April up to the first week in February.

The fall has also saved the company thousands of pounds in compensation payouts to train operators, the report added.

Keith Lumley, from Network Rail, said the use of smart water meant "we spray track-side cable and equipment and that can be easily identified and traced to either the people who have stolen it or, the location it has come from".

"We're also using things like covert cameras in our hotspot areas," she added.

BTP also says it would like to see a more stringent licensing regime for scrap metal dealers and police given the power to shut down rogue traders.

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