Metal thieves have struck Metro lines for the third time within weeks causing disruption for thousands of passengers.
The latest theft of cable happened overnight on Tuesday on a part of the line in Jarrow forcing Nexus officials to suspend services between Pelaw and South Shields for almost an hour, yesterday.
It was at a time when most people would have been relying on the transport network to travel to work or school with trains stopped from 7.40am until 8.18am so that repair work could be carried out.
Services were resumed between Hebburn and South Shields at 8.50am.
Today, police have released CCTV images of three men they are keen to speak to in a bid to catch those responsible.
Nexus have also issued a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.
A Nexus spokesman said: “Metro was targeted by cable thieves in the Jarrow area overnight and this caused a one hour and ten minute service suspension between Hebburn and South Shields.
“The thefts have been reported to Northumbria Police to investigate and we will support that in any way that we can, including the use of any CCTV footage from Jarrow Metro station.
“When cable theft happens it causes damage to essential equipment and leads to huge disruption for customers who rely on Metro services. Nexus is offering a £1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.”
It is the third time within weeks the Metro lines have been hit by criminals who are dicing with death to steal cable from tracks.
Last month, thousands of passenger were hit with disruption when cable was stolen from the track in Hebburn.
And on Bank Holiday Monday, Nexus was hit with a £25,000 repair bill after cable was taken again from a part of the track in Hebburn.
However, the full cost in lost fares and disruption to the public has not been calculated.
Sergeant Tim Hand, of Northumbria Police’s Metro Unit, said: “We received a report of cable theft in the Jarrow area overnight which caused a great deal of disruption on the line this morning (Wednesday, June 13).
“We always take this type of incident very seriously and we are now urging the men pictured, or any member of the public who knows them, to come forward with any information to assist with the ongoing investigation.
“I would like to reiterate the dangers of interfering with live cables on the tracks. Offenders are handling live wires, which can cause serious burns or injuries.
“Such offences also cause a huge amount of disruption, with a temporary service suspension between Hebburn and South Shields this morning as a result of the overnight theft.
“We have increased patrols in the area and continue to work with our partners at Nexus to identify those involved.”
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101. Callers are asked to quote reference number 195 13/06/18