Metal thieves have delayed trains to and from London after stealing almost 1km of signalling cable.
Disruption on the Midland Mainline between the county and London is expected to continue today after theives stole cables between Bedford and Luton last night.
David Horne, managing director of East Midlands Trains, said: “We are extremely frustrated and disappointed that our passengers are being disrupted as a result of the irresponsible actions of petty criminals.
“We will continue to work with Network Rail to try and stamp out future incidents of cable theft and will also be working hard with them to minimise any further disruption.”
Network Rail engineers have been on the scene since the early hours and continue to work to replace and fix damaged and stolen cable from a number of locations.
Signalling was restored at about 3pm, however it is likely that disruption will continue for the remainder of the day.
Network Rail have called for legal reform to combat metal thieves.
Route managing director Martin Frobisher said: “This morning’s incident shows the huge damage that just one incident can do. We firmly believe that without legal reform we will continue to see thousands of hours of delay and millions of pounds wasted on these crimes.
“Network Rail has taken extensive measures to protect our vital railway but we are only stemming the tide. Reform that effectively takes away the illegal market in scrap metal, including an effective licensing regime and adequate power to police and magistrates, is sorely needed to help stamp out the misery caused by these thieves.
“It takes just one criminal to disrupt people’s journeys and we urge anyone with information about this theft to contact the British Transport Police.”
A British Transport Police spokesman said: “Stealing or attempting to steal cable is extremely dangerous and anyone who has information about the incident is asked to come forward.
“What thieves don’t realise is that the cable they are trying to steal could be live, carrying up to 25,000 volts, which can cause extensive burns. By attempting to steal it they are not only risking a court appearance, they are risking their lives.”
Passengers are advised to check www.nationalrail.co.uk for the latest travel information.