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Anorak | Copper Theft for Chinese Olympics Derails British Trains

Copper Theft for Chinese Olympics Derails British Trains

by | 28th, May 2007

copper_pipes.JPGWE’VE all heard the “leaves on the line” excuse for trains delays and cancellations, haven’t we?

Well, to be honest, I’ve never actually heard it myself, but apparently it is quite common.

Anyway, rail bosses can now, somewhat bizarrely, add “copper has been stolen” to its list of stock excuses as soaring global demand for the metal continues to fuel a huge growth in trackside theft.

Last year, over 240,000 minutes of delays for train passengers were caused by the theft of copper, with robberies at tracks and depots increasing by almost 500 per cent.

In the north-east, the problem is particularly widespread, with two-thirds of all rail delays down to copper theft.

Andy Trotter, deputy chief constable of the British Transport Police is understandably concerned by this metal madness. Says he: “It is a growing problem. You have only got to look at the rising copper price on the metal market and the theft of copper matches that rise almost absolutely. Unfortunately, the impact on the infrastructure is beginning to bite.”

It’s not only railways that are falling victim to the copper thieves either, with police in Bradford blaming metal mercenaries for the demolition of a bungalow after copper gas pipes on the outer wall of the house were ripped out, leading to an explosion.

So what happens to all this dodgy metal? Well apparently it is ending up in China where the demand for copper has been fuelled by the Beijing Olympics and demand for telecoms infrastructure.

With the global price of the metal rising fivefold since 2001, hitting £4,000 a tonne this year, expect to hear more copper-based rail excuses.

Apparently, even 2p pieces are worth more if they are melted down. Time to take a blow-torch to your piggy-bank.

China’s rising shares have pushed Shanghai’s main stock index past the 4,000 mark for the first time.



Posted: 28th, May 2007 | In: Money Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink