DETECTIVES from British Transport Police are hunting the people who placed track circuit clips on railways in Cambridgeshire and Nottinghamshire in an apparent protest about the government’s handling of Brexit.
Notes attached to the clips are reported to have said: ‘We will bring this country to its knees if we don't leave.’
The effect would have been to mislead signallers into believing that the line was ‘occupied’ and that could have caused disruption, but the clips were removed before trains were delayed.
It has also been reported that one of the lines is now protected by axle counters rather than track circuits, although this has not been confirmed.
BTP said the incidents occurred near Yaxley, Cambridgeshire on 21 March and at Netherfield, Nottinghamshire on 27 March.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan from British Transport Police said: ‘This was a serious and deliberate attempt by someone to cause significant sabotage and disruption to Britain’s rail network. We are urgently investigating the circumstances behind both incidents and are working extremely closely with our national partners, including the rail industry.
‘It is important to highlight that these acts were intended only to delay services and not cause damage to the infrastructure. However, this failed on both occasions. The railway has a number of substantial safeguards to prevent and detect this type of sabotage and we are now working tirelessly to identify those responsible.
‘We are currently keeping an open mind on why someone would put their life at risk to place these items on a live railway, however our early assessment has led us to believe it relates to Britain’s exit from the European Union. We’ll continue to monitor this situation extremely closely and have circulated advice to rail operators and indeed Network Rail.’
Trains were disrupted by another Brexit protestor at the start of the weekend. A man climbed on to a roofed viaduct just outside St Pancras International on Friday evening, and services on HS1, including Eurostar trains, were suspended for 12 hours. He has since been remanded in custody on a charge of causing malicious damage.