Police investigating 'pro-Brexit sabotage' attempts on railways

PUBLISHED: 16:17 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:32 03 April 2019

A device left on the train tracks. Photograph: Lucio Buffone

A device left on the train tracks. Photograph: Lucio Buffone

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An investigation has been launched after two “malicious” devices were placed on railway tracks in a “pro-Brexit” sabotage attempt, British Transport Police said.

The two obstructions occurred on the railway near Yaxley in Cambridgeshire on March 21 and Netherfield in Nottinghamshire on March 27.

Police said staff at Network Rail identified the devices which were “intended to cause disruption” to train services and added that the saboteurs had “put their life at risk” to plant the obstructions.

Officers believe the sabotage attempts relate to Brexit.

Police said the devices failed to disrupt services and detectives are working with the rail industry to investigate the incidents.

British Transport Police. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA.British Transport Police. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA.

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.”

O’Callaghan added: “The railway has a number of substantial safeguards in place to prevent and detect this type of sabotage and we are now working tirelessly to identify those responsible.

“We’re 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.”

Lucio Buffone, a train driver, claimed on Twitter to have a photograph of the device and said it was a “home made track-circuit clip (to make the signaller think the line was occupied).”

He added that “due to European directives, this line had been upgraded to axel counters, so the protest had no effect.”

The news follows a flag-waving Brexit protester admitting to halting Eurostar trains out of St Pancras by climbing on to a station roof on the day Britain was supposed to leave the European Union.

The Brexiteer carried a St George’s flag and ventured on to a roof over the tracks, then spent some 12 hours in a stand-off with police.

After he was arrested, he told officers he was angry at politicians for “f****** up Brexit”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

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