Thieves are ripping wires out of RTD’s rail system, disrupting train service
Thieves have stolen vital wiring from the Regional Transportation District’s rail tracks more than a dozen times in the last six weeks, leading to thousands of dollars in repairs and repeated service interruptions.
“It's significantly hampering our ability to provide the quality of service that we'd like,” said Dave Jensen, RTD’s assistant general manager for rail operations.
Jensen said thieves have hit nearly every one of RTD’s rail corridors, cutting out thick, nickel-plated copper wire embedded in the rails themselves. The wiring is integral to both a low-voltage system that powers signal systems along the lines and a high-voltage circuit that energizes trains through overhead wires.
Between the presence of moving trains and the possibility of live electrical currents, Jensen said the wires are a dangerous target — a point he repeatedly made in an interview.
“If the wrong thing were to happen at the wrong time, somebody could be seriously hurt,” Jensen said.
Most of the thefts have happened overnight, though one midday incident a few weeks ago knocked out the W Line from noon until 6 a.m. the next day. Jensen estimated the wiring thefts have disrupted 24 total hours of rail service across the system over the last six weeks, with losses in the “thousands of dollars” so far.
RTD is exploring different ways to discourage thefts, from looping wires through railroad ties to greasing the wires to make them less valuable to metal recyclers. They’re also working with local police and its own law enforcement officers, Jensen said. No arrests have been made yet.
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