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#146260 - 11/21/06 06:23 PM High-voltage theft strands commuters
32VAC Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/04
Posts: 203
Loc: Alice Springs, NT, Australia
November 22, 2006 - 9:40AM

Melbourne commuters have fallen victim to soaring world copper prices with thieves removing high-voltage overhead rail lines on one of metropolitan Melbourne's busiest lines.

The theft has caused massive disruption to peak morning train services with all services between Clifton Hill and Jolimont cancelled.

Thousands of passengers on the Epping and Hurstbridge lines are affected.

Connex was forced to cancel the services after thieves removed a section of the overhead lines, containing copper wiring, near West Richmond station this morning.

Connex spokeswoman Kate De Clercq said it was unclear when the theft happened but power to the section was shut off at 7.40am after the theft was discovered.

Thousands of commuters were stranded at Clifton Hill, with many opting setting out on foot for the city. Buses were shuttling passengers between Clifton Hill and Jolimont.

Ms De Clercq said services were expected to return to normal by 9.15am, easing the commuter jam at Clifton Hill soon after.

Ms De Clercq said the live wire voltage was "enough to kill" and the thieves must have acted "very carefully".

"There is a high possibility that someone could be electrocuted," she said.

"We're blaming the fact that copper prices around the world are so high and people are cashing in."

She said the theft would have triggered a "fail-safe" signalling fault that halted trains up and down the line, well away from where the theft took place.

Police say organised gangs have been moving into the scrap metal business to cash in on soaring world demand for copper and scrap metal, which has doubled in price in the past year.

More more than 350 kilometres of copper wiring has been stolen from the cable that ran between steel posts along the Ararat-Ballarat train line.

Copper piping, taps and electical wiring is being ripped from building sites and schools and up to two tonnes of copper at a time has been stolen from scrapyards in Melbourne.

The metal industry has been asked to be on the lookout for stolen copper.
http://www.theage.com.au/news/...../1163871439703.html

Edited to tidy up link

[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 11-22-2006).]

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#146261 - 11/21/06 11:06 PM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
C-H Offline

Member

Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 1508
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
They haven't taken to stealing live wires in Stockholm yet, but as soon as some part of a line is shut down for maintenance the thieves are there, ripping out power and signal cables.

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#146262 - 11/21/06 11:18 PM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
Trumpy Offline

Member

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
32VAC,
 Quote:
Ms De Clercq said the live wire voltage was "enough to kill" and the thieves must have acted "very carefully".

What sort of voltage are we talking here?.
I would imagine it is in the kV range.
For thieves to get away without burns or the like would suggest an inside job, perhaps the thieves were wearing insulated gloves or had experience in untying the conductors from the insulators.
This sounds rather dodgy.
_________________________
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

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#146263 - 11/22/06 04:04 AM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
32VAC Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/04
Posts: 203
Loc: Alice Springs, NT, Australia
Melbournes' electric railway system is 1500 VDC, tram system is 600 VDC.

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#146264 - 11/22/06 04:22 AM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
So they managed to steal a length of cable which was energized at 1500VDC?

They must be getting more sophisticated in their methods. Or could it be that somebody in the team knew how to shut off a section while his buddies quickly went to work with the hacksaws?

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#146265 - 11/22/06 06:31 AM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
32VAC Offline
Member

Registered: 06/28/04
Posts: 203
Loc: Alice Springs, NT, Australia
Not too sure how much was taken, five people have been caught in regards to this theft:

Copper thefts cause transport chaos
November 22, 2006 04:46pm
Article from: AAP

COPPER thieves are causing major disruptions to Melbourne's rail network, stealing overhead wires as world copper prices soar.

Thefts of wires have caused delays to more than 500 trains in the past three months, and today shut down two train lines in the morning peak, stranding thousands of commuters.

Police set up a taskforce 10 days ago to tackle the growing problem and earlier this week they arrested five people.

A 36-year-old Narre Warren man was remanded in custody today after appearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with theft and criminal damage.

Four others will be summonsed to appear in court at a later date.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Clarke, of the Transit Crime Investigation Unit, said a number of groups appeared to be responsible for the thefts and the entire network was being targeted.

He said detectives were working with intelligence and forensic services to track down opportunistic thieves, who were risking their lives for the metal.

He also said the gain did not appear to be worth the risk, as the wire would only fetch hundreds of dollars on the scrap metal market, despite the high world price.

"What they are doing is life-threatening and it's only a matter of time before someone is killed or injured," he said.

Det Sen Sgt Clarke said police were working closely with the Scrap Metal Dealers Association to track down the thieves.

Connex Trains spokeswoman, Kate De Clercq, said rail networks around the world were being targeted by copper thieves.

"We have had more than 20 incidents since the start of September, resulting in more than 500 trains being delayed across the network," she said.

Ms De Clercq said trains were stopped on the Epping and Hurstbridge lines for about 90 minutes in today's morning peak after it was discovered copper wire had been stolen in West Richmond.

She said power was turned off on both lines between 7.40am (AEDT) and 9.06am while the overhead line was fixed, forcing thousands of passengers onto buses and trams into the city.
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,20802479-5005961,00.html

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#146266 - 11/25/06 03:09 AM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
Texas_Ranger Offline
Member

Registered: 12/17/01
Posts: 2343
Loc: Vienna, Austria
At another board some people started talking about copper theft in Germany... in one night, thieves broke into a substation, safely deenergized a few lines and proceeded to steal them. They got caught by the police though.

Another, even weirder incident: using forged documents a group of thieves walked up with big gear and took down a long section of TRACK in bright daylight!

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#146267 - 11/26/06 02:55 AM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
aussie240 Offline
Member

Registered: 07/06/05
Posts: 222
Loc: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
Sydney's train system is also 1500V DC, though with a different rail gauge to Melbourne (Colonial days pre Federation is the reason for that). There are remotely operated knife switches along the line to isolate the aerial conductor, so it would be safe enough to do the job...but you'd want to be 100% sure you got the right switches! How the line was reached to remove it has me curious.

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#146268 - 11/26/06 06:39 AM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England

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#146269 - 11/26/06 11:52 PM Re: High-voltage theft strands commuters
kiwi Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/04
Posts: 347
Loc: christchurch new zealand
The thieves must have chopped the LV lines feeding the railway signal controls. No way could someone chop an AC HV or 1500 VDC line and live to cash the copper.

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