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Vital Rail Security protects Network Rail's Thames Valley Area from metal theft

Published on 18 January, 2012
The teams patrol the railway a number of times daily but on an irregular basis to detect and deter dangerous or criminal behaviour
VRS is working with Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) to secure this 45-mile route

Cable theft is endemic worldwide within transport infrastructure due to soaring copper prices, and the London Assembly has recently called for cash payments for scrap metal to be outlawed. In August 2010, a single incident of line-side cable theft on the Great Western main line near Reading (within the Thames Valley Area) caused 8,000 delay minutes to passengers and cost the industry around £1.4m.

To tackle this problem, Vital Rail Security (VRS) was contracted to protect Network Rail's Thames Valley Area from metal theft, vandalism and trespass in a trackside security programme between London Paddington and Cholsey in South Oxfordshire.

VRS is working with Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) to secure this 45-mile route by using qualified Security Industry Authority (SIA) staff and fully-qualified COSS (Controllers of Site Safety) to form teams to patrol the route in marked jointly-branded Network Rail/VRS vehicles.

The teams patrol the railway a number of times daily but on an irregular basis to detect and deter dangerous or criminal behaviour, the priority being to stop cable theft from signalling equipment. During patrols, personnel check gates, fencing and infrastructure for theft, damage or evidence of suspicious activity, reporting significant incidents to Network Rail Control in Swindon where dedicated facilities have been made available for this exercise.

Close liaison between the Network Rail control room and operational managers and VRS also means that patrol teams can be relied upon to react immediately to emergency issues.

VRS teams and management also work closely with British Transport Police (BTP) and have assisted BTP officers on numerous occasions in apprehending individuals, identifying criminal activity and securing crime scenes for forensic examination. 

Paul Crompton, Director South at Vital Rail Security, said: "There is excellent understanding between VRS and Network Rail about what each team is responsible for on the ground. We have been able to act as our client's eyes and ears. The reciprocal multi-agency approach has seen diverse information shared and acted upon by ourselves, Network Rail and BTP. Vital Rail Security is delighted to be a preferred supplier within the Network Rail Framework Agreement and to be delivering a project with such demonstrable success."

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