METRO staff had to battle against the clock to stop thieves causing chaos for thousands of runners and spectators on Sunday.
The theft of 45 metres of signalling cable from tracks near Percy Main threatened to disrupt services on the day of the Great North Run, but Nexus workers raced against time to complete repairs in time for the network’s busiest day of the year.
The Nexus signalling team had just two hours to install new cables so that trains could get under way at 6.30am, but they managed to get the work done in a record time, with half an hour to spare, enabling services to start as normal.
Nexus rail director Raymond Johnstone said: “This was a fantastic effort from our staff in a very short period of time.
“The potential for Metro disruption on the day of the Great North Run was very real, and it was something we were determined to avoid.
“From being informed of the theft and arriving at the location, our lads only had about two hours to install and reset the signalling cables.
“Without them, we’d have been unable to run trains between Percy Main and North Shields.
“We were well aware of the importance of Metro services, especially on the day of the Great North Run, when thousands of visitors come to Tyneside and make use of the transport system.
“This was a job we had to do quickly. I’m delighted to say we got it done with half an hour to spare, and all the travel arrangements for the race went ahead without any major difficulties.”
Mr Johnstone added: “The people who stole these cables showed a complete and utter disregard for themselves and for the travelling public.
“It was extremely fortunate that there was enough time to repair the mess that these criminals made of our equipment.
“Cable theft is a crime that affects real people and their lives, and thankfully its anti-social consequences were avoided this weekend.
“The incident has been reported to the police.”
“This type of crime is a national problem, and Metro has not been alone in falling victim to it.
“ Our staff will continue to be extra-vigilant and we ask the public to report any suspicious activity.”
“As for the thieves themselves, they gamble with serious injury or even being killed when tampering with electrified cables on the Metro system.”
Police confirmed that no arrests have ben made.
Inspector Geoff Cross of North Shields Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “Police are still investigating the theft of 45 metres of cable near Percy Main Metro in the early hours of Sunday, September 18.
“Police are appealing for witnesses, anyone who was in the area and who may have seen or heard anything suspicious, is asked to contact police.”