French cable theft delays TGV, Eurostar trains: operator

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The theft overnight of copper cabling from French train tracks caused delays Tuesday to high-speed TGV and Thalys trains as well as Eurostar trains under the Channel, operator SNCF said.

Thieves stole around 800 metres (875 yards) of signalling cable over a 10 kilometre (six mile) stretch of track between Douai and Lille in northern France, an SNCF spokeswoman said, causing delays of between 15 and 30 minutes.

Speed restrictions were imposed when the theft was discovered overnight and lifted around 0615 GMT on Tuesday with rail traffic set to return to normal by 0800 GMT, the spokeswoman said.

The theft of railway signalling cables has become increasingly frequent and profitable as world prices for metals, including copper, skyrocket.

Metal thefts cost French rail operator SNCF and infrastructure owner RFF around 30 million euros in 2010 and caused over 5,800 hours of delays.

© 2011 AFP

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