Some 3,650 metres of copper cable has been removed in a series of thefts in Staffordshire.
Network Rail estimates that the total cost of replacing the power, signalling and communications cable will be around £300,000.
Karl Weller, Network Rail section manager based at Stafford, said: “When signalling cables are removed the signalling and telecommunication systems of the railway do not work and trains can’t run. The impact on customers will get worse if these thieves are not caught.”
Chief Inspector Andrea Graham of British Transport Police said: “We are doing everything in our power to track down these criminals who are causing the travelling public delays during the busy holiday season. Not only is this kind of crime disruptive it is extremely dangerous for those responsible. Thousands of volts of electricity run through those cables and interfering with them can be fatal.”