Yesterday saw delays and cancellations yet again as a result of cable theft on the S-train network. The national rail network operator Banedanmark is concerned by the growing phenomenon and estimates the cost to be between 5 and 8 million kroner a year, Politiken reports. And that does not even begin to factor in the cost to Danish business as commuters are prevented from getting to work on time.
In 2012, there were 1,216 delays and cancellations caused by missing cables. By last year this had risen to 1,674. Søren Boysen, the technical head of Banedanmark, said that the case numbers have been increasing since the phenomenon was first seen in 2010.
“It's not just the number of affected services – so too has the number of thefts,” he explained.
“One of the explanations is most probably that the resale value of copper is relatively high,”
But Boysen said that the amount to be gleaned from the thefts paled in comparison with the inconvenience to passengers.
“They might get a couple of thousand kroner for the cables they steal,” he said. "And in return, they will put down an entire section of line, and people need to get buses. So the passengers inconvenience is huge and that is my biggest worry.”
Video surveillance works
Among the solutions Banedanmark is currently investigating is increased video surveillance. “We can see that video surveillance works,” Boysen said.
“We discover the thefts and send guards out to stop the crime. But at the same time, there are places we can’t monitor with cameras, and here we need to do something else.”
Replacing copper wires with aluminium, to remove the incentive to steal, is another option, but not a viable one, according to Boysen.
“On the S-train track, which is hardest hit by the thefts, there are many places with copper. It would be a very extensive project to start to change it all,” he said.
“Not to say that we can’t do it in some places, but it’s a drastic step and not our strategy at the moment.”
A task force has been set up to investigate the problem – the findings of which will be published in March.