Network Rail is offering a reward of up to £1,000 for information leading to the prosecution of vandals responsible for damaging and stealing cables from the railway in the Newport area at around 10pm on Saturday (5th February) and 7pm on Sunday (6th February).
Both incidents have resulted in a total loss of signalling between Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction, which is a vital link between England and south Wales. More than 6000 minutes of delays have been recorded from these incidents.
Some services between south Wales and London are currently still disrupted from the damage yesterday, when around 20 metres of core cables were stolen and another 150 metres of cables cut. In the last 19 hours, 22 services have been fully cancelled; 49 part cancelled and 216 trains delayed.
Mark Langman, route director for Network Rail said: “The thoughtless and dangerous actions of these individuals has resulted in massive disruption for thousands of passengers travelling between England and Wales and taken the time of limited railway resources that are normally employed elsewhere improving the railway. There has been severe damage to the cables and our engineers have been working round the clock since last evening to restore services to normal.
“We are doing all we can to stop these thefts but we need the support of the community to be our eyes and ears on the ground. I am appealing directly to anyone with information regarding the people who committed this mindless act to come forward. Network Rail is offering up to £1,000 for information which leads to an arrest and conviction.”
BTP Detective Inspector Mark Cleland said: “Officers are conducting local enquiries and are working to establish the identities of those involved with the two incidents in Newport on Saturday and Sunday which have caused major delays and serious inconvenience for passengers and the rail industry.
“We are treating these incidents as criminal damage with intent to endanger safety on the railways, an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. However, those stealing – or attempting to steal – cable are not only risking a court appearance, they’re also risking their lives. There is a real risk offenders could be struck by a passing train or electrocuted, as some of the cables carry large amounts of electrical current.
“If you have any information about these incidents, or saw any suspicious activity in the Caerleon Road area of Newport over the weekend, we want to hear from you. All calls and information will be treated confidentially.”
Public with information may contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or BTP on Freefone 0800 40 50 40, quoting incident number B5/WWA of 07/02/2011, anonymously. The reward is up to £1,000 for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons for the theft of copper cable from the rail network.