Commuters on the Central line this morning became the latest to suffer delays caused by theft of copper cable.
The price of copper has soared in recent years, making it suddenly more attractive to thieves who pull out lines attached to track signals and bring the service to a halt, leaving commuters cooling their heels and maintenance staff scrambling to repair it. In the last year or so, London-bound services on First Great Western, National Express East Anglia and c2c have all suffered severe delays as a result of metal thefts and even the Eurostar didn’t escape unscathed.
Escaping unscathed is one of the obvious risks involved with stealing lines from railways – a man was killed last year while trying to steal cables in Tilbury and five more men felt the long arm of the British Transport Police when they were convicted last month for the same crime. Bob Crow grabbed the opportunity to chalk it up to the disputed cuts in staffing levels, but it’s hard to imagine how nightly lineside patrols could cover the hundreds of miles of track involved and a TfL spokesman responded: ‘There has been no change to the frequency of track inspections in this area, so the RMT claims are simply untrue.’