Vandals cause day of rail misery

By Mark HeathRAIL passengers faced a day of delays after an “appalling act of vandalism” saw criminals cut through vital cables on the main line to London.

By Mark Heath

RAIL passengers faced a day of delays after an “appalling act of vandalism” saw criminals cut through vital cables on the main line to London.

The vandalism threw the timetable into chaos, with a “substantially reduced” service provided for people travelling between East Anglia and the capital.

The two attacks, which saw signalling and communication cables cut near Tharston and Newton Flotman, just south of Norwich, are thought to have happened on Thursday night.


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Network Rail technicians were forced to work through the night to find the damage and make repairs, while signallers had to resort to manual methods to keep trains moving.

The attack caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage and 50 engineers were called in to work on the repairs.

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Jon Wiseman, Network Rail route director, said: “It appears that somebody committed this appalling act of vandalism with the deliberate aim of causing as much disruption to train services as possible.”

Commuters faced delays of up to 45 minutes in the morning rush-hour yesterday, with services between Diss, Stowmarket and Norwich among the worst affected.

It is thought the attacks, which are being investigated by British Transport Police, may have been carried out by more than one person because heavy concrete troughs were moved to allow access to the cables.

Mark Phillips, operations and planning director for train operator One, said: “It is of extreme concern to us that an act of such wanton and premeditated vandalism has been carried out.

“I am sorry that the vandals' action has disrupted train journeys for thousands of our passengers - we are working with Network Rail and the British Transport Police to ensure that everything possible is being done to identify those responsible.”

Sergeant Andy Cook, of British Transport Police, said the problem had first been highlighted at about 9.40pm on Thursday when a signalling fault had been recorded in Norwich.

“Because of that a team of engineers were sent out to inspect. Whilst carrying out inspections a power trip occurred, indicating that a second incident had occurred elsewhere,” he added.

“They then carried out a search of the line, found the problem and eventually, at two separate locations, some cables were found to be cut alongside the railway line.”

Sgt Cook continued: “The power cable to the signals had also been cut through, which is a concern because it would have been very dangerous and you would have expected the person who did it to receive injuries, unless they knew exactly what they were doing.

“You could surmise that someone would need to have a fair degree of knowledge to do what they did. You would need to have heavy-duty cable cutters or specific tools to do it.

“Scenes of crime officers have investigated and have taken items away for forensic analysis. This was a deliberate, malicious act to disrupt the rail service.”

Services were back to normal by 5pm yesterday, in time for the evening rush-hour. Anyone with information should contact British Transport Police on 01603 623402.

mark.heath@eadt.co.uk

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