Major FCC delays to continue tonight

WITH major delays causing passenger misery on the Thameslink route today, Network Rail has urged the government to beef up regulation of scrap metal dealers.

Almost one kilometre of signalling cable was stolen from the railway between Luton and Bedford overnight (Wednesday July 25), affecting First Capital Connect (FCC) services.

Vandalism and cable theft brought mayhem for those on the Thameslink route, with FCC apologising for major delays throughout today, Thursday July 26.

There were delays and disruption to passengers travelling between London and St Albans, Luton, Bedford and East Midlands.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said engineers were at the scene of the vandalism and theft, “since the small hours and continue to work to replace and fix damaged and stolen cable from a number of locations”.

Signalling was restored at about 3pm, but delays are expected to continue for the rest of the day.

Network Rail owns and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure, and supports a bill before parliament to strengthen regulation of scrap metal dealers.

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The spokesperson continued: “Metal thieves directly cost the railway around �19 million each year, with the knock-on costs and disruption to the economy around the same amount again.”

FCC customer service director Keith Jipps said the theft and vandalism had caused huge delays to thousands of customers and, “has been intensely frustrating for us all.

“We can only apologise to our passengers for what has been a very difficult day and urge them to seek alternative transport wherever possible as the disruption continues into this evening.”

A British Transport Police spokesperson said: “Stealing or attempting to steal cable is extremely dangerous and anyone who has information about the incident is asked to come forward.

“What thieves don’t realise is that the cable they are trying to steal could be live, carrying up to 25,000 volts, which can cause extensive burns.”

• FCC has told passengers to expect hour-long delays up until about midnight tonight. Some train services will be cancelled.

• The firm also warned that there are a limited number of trains operating between Bedford and Brighton.

• Additional buses will operate between Hatfield and St Albans between 6pm and 11pm.