THIEVES risked their lives – and caused hours of delays to travellers – when they attempted to remove cabling from a signalling junction on the Blackpool to Preston main line.
As reported in yesterday’s Gazette, services ground to a halt just before 7pm on Bank Holiday Monday – traditionally one of the busiest days for rail into Blackpool.
It is thought thieves were trying to steal 300 yards of live cable from Carlton Crossing, but abandoned the attempt.
A Network Rail spokesman said they were dicing with death. He added: “We’ve had incidents in other parts of the country where people have been severely burned.
“Cables could be high voltage or low voltage – there’s no way of people knowing.”
“They could be killed.”
Commuters and holidaymakers had to deal with 12 cancelled services, 21 part-cancelled services, and 96 delayed services on the line.
British Transport Police’s Det Insp Andrea Rainey said: “This incident shows exactly what impact cable theft can have – even if the would-be thieves are unsuccessful.
“We take cable theft extremely seriously and all officers are trained specifically in how to counter the issue. We have a specialist team in the North West and we will fully investigate this incident to locate those responsible.
“Huge amounts of electricity pass through the cables and each and every time a cable is cut the thief is risking electrocution and taking a chance with their lives.
“Simply being that close to the tracks puts any criminal in danger of being struck by a train which, when it happens, more often than not results in a fatality.”
First TransPennine Express police liaison Billy Vickers added: “Due to the selfishness of those involved many of our customers travelling to and from Blackpool after the bank holiday weekend had their journeys affected.
“This is not acceptable behaviour. Cable damage is not a victimless crime.”
And a Northern Rail spokesman added: “Cable theft is a dangerous act, for our passengers and crew, as well as those who carry out the crime. We urge those responsible to be aware of the affect their actions can have.”
Engineers managed to replace the cable and get trains running by 10.30pm.