Network Rail: Cable thieves?

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by OMGitsDAVE, 13 Nov 2011.

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  1. OMGitsDAVE

    OMGitsDAVE Member

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    Unknown as to whether this has been posted, i tried some keywords but couldn't find it on this site. Apologies if wrong!

    Source: http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/general/2011/11/09-network-rail-insiders-blamed-for.html


    SOME Network Rail staff and contractors are cable thieves, according to a senior manager.

    The problem of metal thefts is becoming worse as the value of some metals, particularly copper, continues to rise on world markets, and there are increasingly strident calls for the scrap metal trade to be licensed and regulated.

    The revelation about the involvement of some Network Rail insiders came from operational services directory Dyan Crowther, when she was giving evidence to the House of Commons transport committee.

    She told the hearing that the staff and contractors working on projects inevitably had inside knowledge about where and when a signalling scheme was taking place.

    She said: "There is evidence that there is inside knowledge. There have been arrests and prosecutions of Network Rail staff who have been involved in cable theft."

    "It's almost like providing sweets in a sweet shop," she added.

    With the incidence of thefts and resulting rail disruption getting worse, British Transport Police have described the present system of controlling the scrap metal trade as dating from the days of Steptoe and Son.

    BTP deputy chief constable Paul Crowther told the committee that legislation had not kept pace with modern conditions.
    Describing railway cable theft as a 'low-risk, high-return activity', the deputy chief constable said: "When you go to scrap metal dealers you give your name and address and there are no means of knowing if the information is true. We have a risk and reward balance which is in favour of the criminal."

    Virgin Trains is the latest industry member to campaign for tighter controls on the handling of scrap metals, after its services have been disrupted on numerous occasions by thefts of equipment on the West Coast Main Line.

    VT's chief operating officer Chris Gibb was joined at Coventry station on Monday this week by representatives of British Transport Police, London Midland and the security company SmartWater to distribute information about the problem, and what it is being done to combat it.

    The West Midlands is one of the country's hot-spots for cable thefts, and Mr Gibb said: "Cable theft continues to be an escalating threat to Virgin Trains’ customers and the economy. In 2010/11 there were 6,000 hours of train delay related to more than 3,000 crimes, and British Transport Police made more than 900 arrests. The trend so far this year is worse, despite a 20 per cent drop in the price of copper. On a single day recently Virgin Trains experienced 60 hours of delay.

    “The cost to the railways alone reaches around £19 million a year to replace lost cable and to compensate passenger and freight operators for the delays caused, while the wider impact on lost business and productivity accounts for another £19 million.

    “But cable theft is not a victimless crime. Delayed customers are people with lives to lead – jobs to get to, family to see and hospital appointments to make. The cable thieves are disrupting people's lives."
     
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  3. bluenoxid

    bluenoxid Established Member

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    People are human and some see the opportunity. Got a tenner for van of steel. Got 30 for a bag of cut offs. No questions, cash in hand. Thank you.

    That is not to say that everyone is doing it but NR need to operate a system that trusts no one. Why it has not got to the stage of RFID/barcode tagging drums, I don't know. It costs money they cry. Aye costs you a lot more when I am weighing one in.
     
  4. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Yes, it was raised here by WatcherZero and others during discussion last week in this thread : Cable theft - 8 cases a day - BBC news.
     
  5. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Happens in most industries where people can get away with it - either through ordering too much for a job or by getting the scrap at the end. When metal prices were lower I bet many companies either didn't notice or didn't care, but now it is big money they are trying to put a stop to it.

    I expect that most people who are cable thieves try it for pot luck - if they were more organised they'd be dangerous.
     
  6. paulprentice

    paulprentice New Member

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    I see what you mean about opportunity. In my view, it's not just about the supposed high price of copper, which seems to have been an excuse for several years now, but also about the large quantity of railway junk left on the side of lines. An open invitation to thieves? It certainly seems bad here in London and the south east. I recognise stealing signal cable is a huge problem which takes time and planning to actually carry out, but Network Rail and their contractors are leaving large quantities of rails and other bits and pieces left over from engineering works - for whom? Isn't this sort of attitude just a way of saying - 'help yourselves to the railway?'.

    There is no excuse for theft but as well as a tightening up on rules for scrap dealers the railway needs to be secured properly and things need to be tidied away after engineering works. I guess you could call it good housekeeping. Straightforward, really.

    Call me naive (I don't work on the railway) but interested in others' views.
     
  7. John55

    John55 Member

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    The Sunday Times this morning was reporting that BTP have identified a large number of well organised gangs which are responsible for much of the cable theft. Apparently many of these people were involved in the human trafficking business and have now moved into cable theft in a big way.
     
  8. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    Given the undercover recordings that show how easy it is to do - I am not surprised so many people are doing it. We had LOADS of signs stolen over the last few years, now replaced with worthless replacements (but paid for by you and me).

    I would have expected that some people working on the railway would be involved, even if it's a tiny minority - they could easily be bribed to give location information, if they weren't directly doing the stealing themselves. Everyone can share the rewards - which is, after all, free money.

    No wonder the scrap dealers turn a blind eye when they're making money on it too.

    We need serious punishments, and of course doing away with paying people in cash.. but even then, you'd still get organised criminals setting up supposedly legitimate companies that could provide all the paperwork and ID - and, when the heat is on, just let it fold and start over. The law will always be one step behind, sadly.

    Ironically, I am not sure anyone would have ever taken the problem seriously (no matter how much the authorities would have begged for the Government to do so) until we saw the reports of memorial signs being stolen and TPTB presumably figured that someone had crossed the line - as if the thousands of hours of disruption on the railway, or the dangers of stolen manhole covers and signs, weren't important.

    Rather like the phone hacking story suddenly becoming a major issue once news came out about a murder victim having had her voicemail hacked. Of course it was talked about before, but that is what prompted a proper investigation to begin.
     
  9. thelem

    thelem Member

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    There is a petition to try and make it harder to sell stolen scrap metal at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/406

    There seem to be two types of cable theft being lumped together here:
    - stealing installed cable from an active railway, causing disruption and expensive emergency engineering
    - stealing spare cable (possibly the cable being replaced) or ordering additional cable

    Clearly we want to stop both, but I'm not sure how much insider knowledge would help the former type.
     
  10. route:oxford

    route:oxford Established Member

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    There are very small changes that would be straightforward to accommodate.

    If all purchases of metals had to be settled by electronic transfer direct to a bank account, there would be a far greater form of audit control.

    It's not as if it's that difficult these days with faster payment services available by mobile phone.
     
  11. stockport1

    stockport1 Member

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    make sure the cable is not connected first!


    thieves

    WARNING: Some people may find the images contained in this link disturbing or distressing
     
  12. ole man

    ole man Member

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    Sandbach Scrap Yard got raided last week and they found 2500 pounds worth of Copper, they traced it back to a Railway company that i shall not name.
    The scrap dealer lost all his copper and the company are in big trouble, though don't know if money will have to be repayed and who to?
     
  13. blue sabre

    blue sabre Member

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    Maybe you should put a warning with that link. Not everyone's cup of tea.
     
  14. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    There was a suggestion in the NR Electrification Strategy that the use fibre optic signalling equipment wherever possible in the future, this was about reducing signalling interference from the traction supply but I would think it would reduce the amount of low voltage copper available to steal, so has anything happened about it?
     
  15. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    Yes, agreed. Very unpleasant, though of course not entirely undeserved.

    All the talk of overhauling the scrap dealing system fills me with :roll: to be honest, it goes down the wrong path at the very start by assuming that the sort of rogue dealers who knowingly buy stolen metal will actually feel the need to abide by any new laws passed; they won't. :| Yes, there might be some faint threat of being caught out in some kind of 'sting' operation, but I very much doubt that would stop the practice in many cases. Organised gangs can simply establish contacts with certain dealers and their illicit dealings will continue.

    What is needed, desperately so, are very harsh penalties. Perhaps if the authorities took the railway in general far more seriously, this could be a reality. Theft or attempted theft of safety critical equipment needs to be met not with some lame slap on the wrist theft charge, but with a new charge of willful endangerment of public safety, which should carry a very hefty sentence. This same charge would also be very useful when dealing with ignorant, stupid farmers who feel it acceptable to park trailers on level crossings.
     
  16. IanXC

    IanXC Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd agree that this kind of crime needs to be met with a more serious response, but surely amongst the thousands of offences on the statute book there must be something suitable in place already?!

     
  17. michael769

    michael769 Established Member

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    Having had the misfortune to have witnessed the aftermath of something similar for real, I strongly suspect that image is staged with dummies.
     
  18. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    If there is, it's clearly not being used to its potential :|
     
  19. stockport1

    stockport1 Member

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    sorry maybe you are right. it does depict trauma injury/death.

    just want to point out its not violent or sexual or off topic.

    im a bit more old fashioned and less squeemish. my feeling is more people should see this kind of thing more often - like our newspapers etc. as a society we are more cottonwool wrapped than ever before. Our grand parents/ parents / great grand parents all saw much worse in 2 world wars.

    If more people were aware of the consequences they may not attempt the thieving or trespass.

    again sorry if it disturbed you.
     
  20. IanXC

    IanXC Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think this is quite possibly applicable:

     
  21. BestWestern

    BestWestern Established Member

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    That may well be applicable, but again the issue is that the punishments being handed down, whatever offence they are for, are just not severe enough. The massive extent of the disruption caused by these attacks needs to be recognised and acknowledged for what it is; it isn't just a few grey-faced commuters standing about on platforms, it's delays costing millions of pounds and causing considerable damage to the economy in terms of lost working time, and massive inconvenience to the lives of those individuals caught up in it all. That's the less serious issue, the more serious is the reckless and obviously dangerous nature of the actions of these thieves, and the total lack of any concern for the lives of the people they affect.

    Substantial prison terms are needed, not only for those cases resulting in widespread disruption but for any attempted theft of railway equipment/cabling.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    My apologies in advance for being perhaps a tad morbid, but I'm curious as to why it might be staged? I'm pleased to say I don't have to deal with that sort of stuff, but from a layman's viewpoint those images look pretty horrifically real to me :| What would one have the unenviable dread of expecting to find in such a case?

    I don't have a penchant for the ghoulish, and again I apologise if such a question comes across as damned unpleasant, but I guess it isn't something that the vast majority of us ever have to think about (thank God!) :|
     
    Last edited: 19 Nov 2011
  22. michael769

    michael769 Established Member

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    Let's just say that a badly burned human body does not maintain that level of it's natural shape and leave it at that. (Shudders). The colour looks wrong too. To my eye they look like badly scorched dummies. I could be wrong given it is a photograph taken in the dark.

    Still real or not if it deters folks from indulging in such crimes who am I to criticise it.
     
  23. 12CSVT

    12CSVT Established Member

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    Serves him right (the scrap dealer that is)
     
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