Train chaos as thieves try to steal signalling cable

Trains from Glasgow Queen Street are among the worst-affected services. Picture: John Devlin

Trains from Glasgow Queen Street are among the worst-affected services. Picture: John Devlin

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COMMUTERS suffered major disruption today after thieves attempted to steal rail signalling cable near Falkirk in the second incident in two weeks.

More than 30 trains across the Central Belt were cancelled and dozens delayed by a total of 25 hours after up to 800ft (250m) of cable was cut overnight at Greenhill junction, between Cumbernauld and Falkirk.

The ScotRail Alliance, which includes track owner Network Rail, said most services returned to normal by 2:30pm but there were several further knock-on cancellations.

Trains on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line were halved in frequency to every half hour, with an extra 15 minutes added to journeys.

Glasgow-Dunblane line stopping services were cancelled, with delays also caused to passengers between Glasgow and lines to Alloa, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Services between Dalmuir in West Dunbartonshire and Cumbernauld were altered to start and terminate at Springburn.

A full list of affected trains is available on {http://www.journeycheck.com/scotrail/|journeycheck.com/scotrail|Link to site],

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “Glasgow Queen Street services have been significantly disrupted this morning by an attempted cable theft.

“This incident caused extensive damage to cables controlling signalling equipment on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line.

“Engineers have been on site since 5:30am working to repair the damage and restore services to normal.

“We understand the inconvenience this incident has caused and have worked hard throughout the morning peak to keep as many passengers as possible on the move, utilising diversionary routes around the area where possible.

“We are also working with British Transport Police to investigate this incident and identify those responsible.”

BTP said up to 300ft (100m) of copper signalling cable was stolen between Greenhill junction and Falkirk two weeks ago.

Chief Inspector Stuart Wilson said: “While we have seen a decrease in the number of incidents from the high of several years ago, we are still experiencing cable thefts across the country which cause disruption and inconvenience to the travelling public as well as costing thousands of pounds to rectify.”

Labour said the disruption could have been prevented if ministers had tightened up the law on metal dealers after new legislation was passed at Holyrood in June.

It said measures banning cash sales of scrap metal had still to come into force under the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act.

Justice spokesman Graeme Pearson said: “This is the second time in a month that thieves have targeted this line, selfishly stealing cable to sell as scrap metal.

“It also means that yet again thousands of commuters across the central belt were inconvenienced. The SNP government need to get their act together.

“The SNP promised three years ago they would deliver the legislation to prevent cash sales of scrap metals across Scotland.

“This already happens in England. Yet again the SNP government in Edinburgh is big on a promise but fails to deliver.

“Meanwhile commuters across Scotland are left with frustrations that could have been avoided.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act is an important milestone in the battle to tackle metal theft.

“The Act will bring in tougher rules for licensing metal dealers. Measures such as a ban on cash payments and better record-keeping requirements are important steps toward making it harder for thieves to convert stolen metal into cash.

“With Parliament having recently passed the Act, we are now finalising the details of implementation.

“We are currently working with partners including Police Scotland, local authorities and scrap metal dealers to implement the changes.”

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