THIEVES are risking their lives to steal railway cables across Wales and causing significant delays to passengers, British Transport Police has warned.

Railway cable thefts caused more than 10,000 minutes of delays to passengers on the Wales and Borders line in 2017 - a 240 per cent increase on the previous year, figures show.

One of the thefts affected 387 train services and caused a combined total of 4,532 minutes of delay.

Sergeant Ben Randall-Webb, from British Transport Police, said: “Cable theft not only results in significant delays and cancellations right across the rail network, but any attempt to steal cable is also incredibly dangerous, and anyone seeking to do so risks serious injury – or even death – through electrocution."

When a live cable is cut, it can cause a power failure on the network, turning all signals powered by the damaged cable to red and bringing trains to a standstill.

Bill Kelly, chief operating officer for Network Rail in Wales and Borders, said: “Cable theft is not a victimless crime – far from it. Train delays and cancellations directly affect people going about their daily lives, such as getting to and from work and visiting family."