THREE people have been charged with stealing cable from railway lines in Wigan as transport police launch a crackdown.
During the past few months the borough has seen a significant rise in the number of thefts of cable.
Now British Transport Police (BTP) is hitting back against the offenders who cause misery for countless passengers.
Detective Inspector Andrea Rainey said: “Tackling cable theft is a priority for BTP and we are prepared to do everything within our power – within the limits of the law – to take action against anyone who steals from the railway.
“We will be out and about during the coming days, weeks and months, targeting known hot-spot locations and making life as difficult as possible for would-be thieves.
“My officers understand the misery caused by cable theft and will go to great lengths to deter thieves from targeting the railway.
“When thefts do occur we will use every investigative and forensic tactic available to us to trace those responsible and put them before the courts.”
The theft of cable from the railway has an enormous impact on the travelling public with countless delays and cancellations directly attributable to the crime.
Network Rail route director Jo Kaye said: “In the three months to the end of June we had 26 cable theft incidents in my central area, which covers Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
“As a result, 50 trains were cancelled and other services were delayed a total of 6,287 minutes - that’s the equivalent of nearly four and a half days.
“This has a devastating effect on thousands of people who are late for work, miss business appointments or have their precious leisure time spoilt.
“We will do everything we can to help the police bring offenders to justice, and press for sentences to reflect the effects of their crimes.”
DI Rainey added: “We are working extremely closely with Network Rail to address the issue and lessen the impact of cable theft on the communities of the North West and we are making significant progress.
“The message from the entire railway industry is clear – stay away from our cable.”
Jinnie Johnson, 40, of City Road, Kitt Green, Clifford Orme, 49, of Lower Ince, and Darren Bushell, 42, of Settle Street, Bolton, have all been charged with conspiracy to steal cable.
They will appear at Wigan Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, August 2.