Copper theft, a triggered plague that delays more than 800 trains a year

this kilogram of copper paid two years ago from 5.5 euros. Currently, its price stands at 7.7 euros, although it has fallen in recent months. metal one live business, legal and illegal, especially when the material is expensive, with gangs dedicated to stealing it at transformers and substations, solar farms, telephone lines, power lines and catenary. together vandal events, pnon-profit crime is a serious problem for the operation of trains throughout Spain. According to the data provided to this newspaper by the Railway Infrastructure Manager (Adif), cable theft has affected 808 trains last year. Only in the first quarter of 2022, there were 258 rail delays. this to shake your robberies condensed Lately.

The most notorious last case occurred on Monday morning. 600 meter theft in Tarragona optical fiber (on the other hand, it contains very little copper) It suspended traffic on the high-speed line between Madrid, Barcelona and Figueres for five hours. Inside saints they lived chaotic scenes, hundreds of passengers were stranded without alternative transportation. Many have compared the Barcelona station to a “mouse trap”. Meanwhile, Mossos d’Esquadra has arrested the alleged perpetrator of the robbery. 19 years old stolen material confiscated and now facing possible jail time five years in prison.

Even in Catalonia, this was not the only event that took place that day. Hours later, at night, another setback kept an AVLO (the cheapest high-speed service offered by Renfe as an alternative to AVE) stable for over three hours. Esplugues de Francoli (Tarragona).

But here Spain, producing approximately 170,000 metric tons of this material annually, is no exception either. For example, the UK’s rail infrastructures have been similar problem with copper, a conductive metal easily recyclable, unlimited life, on which electricity, transport, telecommunications and water supply depend.

Events are increasing

Adif recorded 149 incidents due to the theft of electrical conductors. 2019, whether grounding, multi-conductor, line circuit, catenary or power cables. The circulation of 479 that year was therefore affected. Inside 2020, marked by mobility restrictions Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of cases dropped to 121. However Robbery peaked in 2021, By 277: 808 trains delayed, Andalusia, Catalonia and Madrid as the most affected areas

The trend has advanced towards the beginning of 2022. first trimester, In the last period the public agency had data, there were 102 events affecting 258 services. If the same rate continues, this year will end with more than 1,000 trains delayed due to theft. Altogether, in these three and a half years, 111 kilometers of cable distance of railway infrastructure equivalent to a journey by car. Between Barcelona and Girona, plus another 10 kilometers.

Even so, despite the recent upward trend, the magnitude of the problem is now less than just before. Between 2014 and 2018, about 6,500 trains were delayed due to cable theft to obtain copper, with an average of 1,300 per year. illegal business is very lucrative and difficult to fight, because the cable is not identified. The thief is selling it “bleach” for a price that depends on the cost of the metal in the legal market, which puts it on the market for twice what he pays, and in the end the distributor charges twice the price you pay for selling it. . A significant part of the stolen material ends. In India and especially in China, According to Security Forces and Bodies.

Madrid and BCN, the hardest hit

In his statistics, Adif distinguishes: acts of vandalism and cable theft. The former has traditionally been more numerous. However, in a clear indication of the increasing trend in thefts, sources from the railway infrastructure manager explain that “theft of electrical conductors is causing the largest number of incidents as of 2021.” In total, when both concepts are added, 2,284 events were recorded between 2019 and the first quarter of 2022, most affecting 5,800 trains. conventional lines, not high speed. The general delay of all these mishaps, 107,000 minutes. Well, more than 74 days. The most affected provinces were Madrid (286 incidents), followed by Barcelona (220), Seville (161), Asturias (62) and Tarragona (31).

Source: Informacion


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