Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Vandals attack railway cables and cause travel chaos

By Sunil Patel

Thousands of rail passengers in the Midlands faced travel chaos after vandals wielding “axe” like objects attacked signalling cables.

Rail staff reported a power loss at 4.40pm at the Abbey Junction in Nuneaton on Monday 7th September with 15 trains cancelled and 201 affected because of the criminal activity.

Commuters like Bulquis Jamal who works in Nuneaton were left stranded for several hours on the platform waiting for further instructions, she said; “I was not happy at all my train was supposed to leave at 5.30pm but it never left the station and I experienced tremendous delays."

All rail users affected by the delays were given compensation forms on the day of the incident by Cross Country staff so that they could claim their money back.

Bulquis added: “There was an announcement that a replacement bus service would be leaving Nuneaton at 8.00pm but I couldn’t wait until then so I called home so that I could get picked up directly from the station.”

What was supposed to be a one hour journey home turned into a three hour nightmare for Yusuf Kola who is a daily commuter between Leicester and Birmingham, he said: “I was on a train that left Birmingham New Street at 4.22pm but we had to turn around and go back because we were told there were signalling issues at Nuneaton.

Yusuf felt not enough information was provided at the time by the train staff so it was impossible for passengers to plan ahead with alternative travel arrangements, he said; “When we got back to Birmingham there was a mad rush because nobody knew what was going on.

Yusuf thinks more security should be provided to protect railway equipment, he added: “Obviously you blame the criminals who are stealing or cutting the cable but this isn’t the first time it has happened and it always seems to be going on around the Nuneaton area.”

British Transport Police Officers had received reports that cable had been cut but not stolen, in the Vale View area of Nuneaton.

The police do not know how many people were involved in the incident as no arrests been made so far and enquiries are ongoing to find those responsible.

BTP Sergeant Martin Smith said: “Those who damage cable by trespassing lineside and on the track are not just risking a court appearance, they are risking their lives.

Around 640 volts travel along the copper cables when trains are running as normal.
Sgt Smith added “Any damage to cable causes significant delays and inconvenience to passengers who rely on the rail network.

“We are increasing police patrols in the area and I would urge anyone with any information to contact us”.

Anyone with any information about cable theft in the area should contact British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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