Authorities are winning the war against metal and cable theft on the railways, according to latest figures.
Rail passenger and freight service delays caused by these kinds of theft halved in 2012/13 compared with 2011/12, Network Rail (NR) announced.
And the total cost of the thefts, including compensation, fell from just under £18.34 million in 2011/12 to just over £12.76 million in 2012/13.
The thefts caused delays of more than 6,000 hours in 2010/11 - a 12-month period in which there were almost 1,000 incidents of this kind.
There were 845 incidents which caused around 5,740 hours of delays in 2011/12, but in 2012/13 the number of incidents had fallen to 285 and the delays were down to 2,700 hours.
NR operations and performance head Neil Henry said: "These figures show the true success of partnership working and are great news for passengers and our freight customers.
"The improvements we have seen are down to a number of factors, including British Transport Police (BTP) targeting thieves and the scrap dealers buying stolen metal.
"Our engineers are working with suppliers and other industries to make metal - particularly our cables - harder to steal and easier to identify and our teams around the network are introducing new ways of working to reduce delay and fix thefts more quickly. "
Rail Minister Norman Baker said: "The coalition Government is strongly committed to tackling metal theft and it is heartening to see that the decisive action that has been taken is now paying off with major reductions in this kind of crime.
"Government intervention in this area has included £5 million of funding for a task force to crack down on metal and cable thieves, along with the introduction of a ban on cash payments by scrap metal dealers, significantly increasing the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act and providing police officers with sufficient powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards."
Detective Chief Inspector Gill Murray, of BTP, said: "The significant reductions during the past 12 months are encouraging and are testament to the work done by police and partner agencies to increase the risk of detection and prosecution to offenders, whilst also reducing the potential rewards for their criminal behaviour."
Gary Cooper, director of operations and engineering at the Association of Train Operating Companies, added: "Rail users are starting to benefit from the industry's joint and determined crackdown on cable theft."
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