Police appeal after £10,000 equipment is stolen from heritage railway

POLICE are appealing for information after thieves stole £10,000 of signalling equipment from a heritage railway the Staffordshire Moorlands

Thieves cut through security locks to break into storage containers at the Churnet Valley Railway sidings at Froghall, near Cheadle, at the weekend.

Some of the equipment was to be used on the CVR's track extension which will connect Leekbrook Junction with Leek.

A CVR spokesman said: "The lost equipment includes a large quantity of interlocking equipment. This is used to prevent multiple routes being set by the signalling system and protects trains from meeting on the same stretch of track.

"Due to the nature of the equipment, they cannot be purchased off the shelf. Instead, the Churnet Valley Railway must wait for upgrades to be completed before they can purchase the parts removed from the mainline".

Staffordshire Moorlands Police have responded to criticism from the CVR claiming “due to an overcomplicated reporting system that fails to deal with reports made to Staffordshire Police, we have felt it futile in reporting this case”.

The CVR spokesperson further claimed "it was disheartening that volunteers were sent on a “proverbial wild goose chase using the 101 service”.

Chief Inspector Mark Thorley, commander of Staffordshire Moorlands Neighbourhood Policing Team, has responded: “We have not received any crime reports from Churnet Valley Railway in the last 12 months.

"Local officers have been to visit the railway this afternoon (Sept 9), but we are awaiting further information from their management to progress an investigation.

"If businesses do not report crime it makes it more difficult for us to understand the full picture and take preventative action.

“On average the force receives 900 101 calls each day. Our focus is to continue to prioritise our emergency 999 call answering service. We accept that this will mean some delays in the answering of non-emergency 101 calls during our busiest times.

“Twenty-seven new calls takers have been recruited recently to join our 101 service with 13 more joining before the end of the year.

“We were one of the first forces to facilitate crime and incident reporting through social media (direct messaging through Facebook and Twitter) and this development, launched in March 2019, supports the force’s ongoing work to develop new and more convenient ways for the public to make contact with the police and avoid the wait on 101. Twenty-five per cent of non-emergency calls are now handled this way.

“The force website also enables the public to report crimes and incidents, road traffic collisions and lost or found property.”

The North Staffordshire Railway Company (1978) Ltd, has now set up an appeal to accept donations to improve the security of the storage site.

This will see a new fence installed along the full perimeter along with a upgraded CCTV system. The charity is aiming to raise £8,000 to cover some of the associated costs of replacing the perimeter fence.

To donate go to: https://membership-form.nsrailway.co.uk/donations

THE Churnet Valley Railway recently re-opened to visitors after closing for six months due to Covid-19 lockdown.

Following the Government’s latest announcement on restricting social gatherings to six, the CVR has confirmed it is still permitted to welcome passengers on board all of its passenger trains.

A CVR spokesman said: "Families and social bubbles are unaffected by this change anyway, however as we are running at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing and have a COVID process in place to protect visitors, we too are able to carry on with the new normal.

"Our new style of seat allocation does not permit more than six guests within a designated bay, and we have screens in place where required to separate groups.

"Face coverings are still currently required on all our services unless you are exempt. Dining customer may remove face coverings when the meal service starts.

For FAQs regarding our COVID procedures see https://www.churnetvalleyrailway.co.uk/covid


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