CABLE thieves have disrupted 57 trains in Barnsley for more than ten hours in four separate incidents since the beginning of August.

The crime had been down in the run-up to the month with no problems for a year before the cable cut at Ossett caused a power failure at Horbury junction. This subsequently disrupted services between Wakefield Kirkgate and Barnsley.

Daniel Snee, from Network Rail, said: "A theft in South Yorkshire could mean a train arriving late as far away as Plymouth. Cuts miles away could affect Barnsley's trains."

In the last five years, theft-related incidents in the Barnsley area have caused 21,514 minutes' delay and cost more then £218,000.

However, new laws to clamp down on thieves selling ill-gotten cable have cut offences as sellers have to prove their identity.

Rail bosses have renewed their warnings that cable theft is not a victimless crime and thieves will be jailed if they're caught.