CABLE theft from North East railways has cost more than £1.5million in the past three years.
The startling figure, which relates to compensation costs from service delays, has been released by Network Rail to show the impact of criminals targeting cables that control vital infrastructure, such as signals and points.
More than 1,000 hours of delays were recorded in the region during the same period.
In the last financial year alone for the north east, £475,000 was paid out in compensation, more than 150 attacks on rail systems were recorded and passenger services were delayed by more than 360 hours.
British Transport Police (BTP) North Eastern recorded 1,184 crimes and made more than 200 arrests.
Route Director Richard Lungmuss said: “I cannot over-emphasise just how serious these crimes are. Cable thieves deny passengers the service they rightly expect and through the massive cost to the industry deny everyone improvements to rail services.
“We are doing everything we can to protect the railway and will continue to work closely with British Transport Police and other rail partners to do everything in our power to deter thieves and bring those who attack our network to justice.”
Measures to crack down on thieves include increased BTP patrols, extra officers, partnership work with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and a national intelligence cell, use of alarms, CCTV and other equipment, and the introduction of a new type of cable that is easier to identify and harder to steal.