A spate of copper thefts has hit the railways in Melbourne’s west, forcing thousands of commuters onto buses on four out of seven mornings in recent weeks.
Thieves stealing lucrative copper cables and vandalising the railways near Laverton caused Altona Loop services to be suspended or altered for more than 15 hours in recent weeks.
Commuters using the Altona Loop during morning peak hour have been plagued by 40-minute delays and forced to catch buses.
Nearly 50 buses have been ordered while trains were down on Thursday and Monday last week and Saturday and Thursday (October 24 and 26).
The thefts are believed to have occurred at dawn.
Metro’s chief operating officer, Catherine Baxter, confirmed there had been four incidents of cable theft near Laverton this month.
“This is a completely unnecessary disruption for our Werribee line passengers who are trying to get to work, school and appointments,” Ms Baxter said.
“The vandals are putting themselves in serious danger by committing these crimes – as they are in a live electrical environment where trains run at regular frequency.
“Metro’s Network Security and Surveillance team is patrolling the area every night to bring these vandals to justice, and spare our passengers any further disruptions.”
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the thefts were under investigation.
“Officers from the Transit Safety Division are investigating a number of thefts of copper cabling from the area in the vicinity of the Altona Loop area,” the spokeswoman said.
“Each reported incident is thoroughly investigated by Victoria Police and heavy penalties apply to anyone convicted of this type of offending.”