Six drums of cable were stolen from a rail depot over two days by thieves in the latest incidents to hit the industry, it was revealed today.
British Transport Police said a £1,000 reward was on offer for information about the thefts from a rail depot in Horsham, West Sussex, earlier this week.
Detective Constable Vanessa Cottington said two drums of cable were stolen on Monday evening, while just over 24 hours later, a further four drums were also taken.
"We know from our inquiries that a light-coloured transit van was used on the Tuesday evening, and that a transporter-type van was used on both occasions.
"Cable theft is a major problem on the rail system and BTP is devoting considerable resources to combating it. We have arrested a number of people recently and the courts are handing out heavy sentences to thieves.
"Officers are clamping down and with specialised operations in key hot spots, we are arresting more people than ever before. So far we have had over 700 people arrested around the country for cable-related offences and we shall continue to have a high visibility presence to catch and deter criminals.
"We also conduct regular visits to scrap metal dealers to check any cable which may have been sold by the thieves for profit. What they don't realise is just how little they make. Is it worth risking your life accessing the rail line or prohibited areas for £50 in your pocket?
"However, these incidents continue to occur and we are looking at new ways, particularly by making it much more difficult for thieves to dispose of stolen metal, to deal with it."
Robin Gisby, Network Rail managing director of network operations, said: "Cable theft is a huge issue and mindless thieves cause delays and disruption for thousands of rail passengers. It is an issue which all affected industries are committed to tackling - but we can't do it alone. We need to see tougher sentences for cable thieves in the courts and the police must be given the powers they need to shut down the rogue scrap dealers who are profiting from the travelling public's misery."
The independent charity Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any cable thieves.
There have been a spate of thefts in recent months which have caused huge disruption to rail services in several parts of the country.