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Cable thieves bring Kidderminster rail havoc
KIDDERMINSTER rail passengers suffered hours of misery after trackside thieves struck three times in six days over the Bank Holiday period.
The attacks were on a nine-mile stretch of the line between Hartlebury and Droitwich on Friday, Monday and yesterday.
A total of 300 metres of cable was taken during the latest incident at about 2am yesterday in Hartlebury.
A Network Rail spokesman said more than 1,000 passengers using the line between Dorridge and Worcester, which runs through Kidderminster, were affected as 47 services were diverted, nine cancelled and 82 terminated early.
There were also considerable delays and cancellations as a result of the first two incidents.
The thefts, which could cost thousands of pounds in damage and compensation, knocked out signals and meant trains could not run.
In the Friday incident 140 metres of cable was cut in an apparent attempted theft, while a length of 300 metres was taken on Monday. Even after problems were fixed it took hours for services to return to normal.
British Transport Police have now stepped up patrols in the area and visited local scrap metal dealers.
Det Chief Inspector John Pyke said: “The theft of cable is not just an attack on the railway, it has a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of thousands of passengers.”
Train users took to The Shuttle’s facebook page to air their frustration.
Wendy Shaw said she was late for work on Friday and yesterday, travelling from Kidderminster to Birmingham Snow Hill. “It makes me and thousands of others late into work and puts our rail fares up,” she added.
Karen Chamberlain said: “I missed four hours of my holiday on Friday and had to put a tent up in the dark.”
Laura Pitt said she was forced to drive to work yesterday and had already paid for a train ticket.
John Rutherford, 76, from Hartlebury, a committee member of the Stourbridge Line Users Group, told The Shuttle: “A number of people feel so strongly about this.
“People still have to go about their daily business but I would suggest people keep their eyes peeled.
“Vigilance on the part of the daily traveller is really the only way we can fight back as individuals. Do not be afraid to report anything.”
He said policing the areas in and around Hartlebury was “near impossible” as the railway was easily accessible but added: “The cables should, as quickly as possible, be replaced with fibre optic.”
National Rail figures show there were more than 160,260 cable thefts across the UK in 2012, costing the company, which runs and maintains the rail network, nearly £13 million.
Anyone with information should contact BTP on 0800 405040, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
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