Incidents of metal theft from railways have fallen considerably since a focus on tackling the issue was introduced, according to Network Rail.
It has said that part of this was down to the police targeting scrap dealers that were buying stolen metal.
According to Network Rail statistics, the number of incidents of metal theft fell to 285 in its financial year 2012/13 compared to 845 in 2011/12 and 995 in 2010/11.
As a result of this, passenger delays caused by metal theft from railways dropped by 54 per cent.
Network Rail head of operations and performance Neil Henry said: “These figures show the true success of partnership working and are great news for passengers and our freight customers.
“The improvements we have seen are down to a number of factors, including British Transport Police targeting thieves and the scrap dealers buying stolen metal.
“Our engineers are working with suppliers and other industries to make metal – particularly our cables – harder to steal and easier to identify and our teams around the network introducing new ways of working to reduce delay and fix thefts more quickly. We believe the introduction of new laws following our work with other industries to explain the need for change to government will continue to help to stifle the market for stolen metal.”
Rail Minister Norman Baker added: “The coalition Government is strongly committed to tackling metal theft and it is heartening to see that the decisive action that has been taken is now paying off with major reductions in this kind of crime.
“Government intervention in this area has included £5 million of funding for a task force to crackdown on metal and cable thieves along with the introduction of a ban on cash payments by scrap dealers, significantly increasing the fines for all offences under the existing Scrap Metal Dealers Act and providing police officers with sufficient powers of entry to tackle illegal trading in metal yards.”