Contractors and a scrap dealer that stole up to £1.5 million of track and sleepers from Network Rail have been jailed for a total of 11 years 9 months.
Two other men were also given a total of 21 months suspended sentences for their involvement.
The actions of the group came to the attention of British Transport Police in August 2008 when a scrap dealer check in Staffordshire revealed 208 tonnes of rail had been removed from the Rugby upgrade project. With the help of the scrap dealer, officers followed trails that implicated the contractors and a scrap dealer Nicky Halloran.
The court heard that Terry Doherty, a co-director of BRP (Rugby) Ltd, conspired with Jarvis plant manager John Burtenshaw to steal rail and sleepers. This metal should have been taken to authorised recyclers, with Network Rail receiving the value of the metal. But Doherty and Burtenshaw used their position to steal up to 3,500 tonnes of rail, worth up to £1.5 million.
Doherty also conspired with Carillion logistics manager Stuart Amphlett to steal rail from the Manchester Metrolink project.
John Burtenshaw, Terry Doherty, Stuart Amphlett, Nicky Halloran and Vital supervisors Neil Jones and Paul Tandon were all implicated in the thefts.
British Transport Police detective sergeant Chris Hearn said: “We were able to track the movement of some of the stolen rail to scrap dealers in Birmingham, Bedfordshire and Liverpool.
“Enquiries at these dealers revealed more than 500 tonnes of rail had been moved by the conspirators who were paid more than £71,500.
“Further investigations revealed a total of 3,500 tonnes of rail and other metal equipment from the Rugby project was unaccounted for, with a potential value of almost £1.5 million.
“There is no doubt that the actions of this organised group deprived Network Rail, and, in turn rail users across the country, of valuable finance which could have been put towards maintenance and improvements.
“This case clearly shows just how damaging metal theft is to communities, and, particularly, to the rail industry. But it also demonstrates just how determined British Transport Police is to tackle those who perceive the railway to be a soft target.”