October 28, 2010 10.47 am This story is over 161 months old

Barrier blues are hard to beat

Endless: With copper prices on the rise, theft of the metal from railways is affecting Lincoln once again.

Twice in under a week would-be thieves tried to steal railway copper cable from a spot in the Sincil Bank area in Lincoln. The incident is the third of this kind this month, and the fourth involving cable theft in the area this autumn.

Every time there is an attempt to steal copper cable, lights automatically turn red, and stay red until repairs are made. Network Rail then has to switch to manual train signals, which takes much longer than usual to coordinate.

Such events then take their toll on train passengers, motorists and pedestrians in Lincoln, causing massive disruptions. Trains have to be redirected or delayed, and motorists and pedestrians are stuck at rail crossings in Lincoln endlessly.

The theft attempt at Sincil Bank on Wednesday took around seven hours to get repaired, from 11am to 5pm. Last Thursday, the theft attempt happened overnight and it was repaired just before midday the day after.

However, thieves are not targeting just the railways for copper. Several homes in the Lincoln West End area had their external wires tampered with and sections removed for their copper content, police believe.

Lincolnshire Police say homes are affected across the city on Charles Street West, Gresham Street, Whitehall Grove and also Scorer Street, close to where the Wednesday copper cable theft attempt happened.

Thieves are believed to be looking to sell copper to scrap metal dealers, as the price for the metal skyrocketed in recent years to over £5,000 per tonne. However, British Transport Police do not have the powers to close down scrap metal dealers who pay for stolen copper.