In Depth

Suspected ‘pro-Brexit’ sabotage attempt on railways

Police investigating two ‘malicious’ devices bearing anti-EU slogans left on train tracks

Authorities have opened an investigation over a suspected pro-Brexit sabotage attempt on the UK rail network.

The British Transport Police (BTP) said two “malicious obstructions” were left on tracks near Yaxley, Cambridgeshire, on 21 March and at Netherfield, Nottinghamshire, on 27 March.

Printed messages on the devices bore the slogans “Government betrayal. Leave means leave” and “We will bring this country to its knees if we don’t leave”, reports The Guardian

According to BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw, one of the devices was spotted by a train driver, while the other is believed to have been found during a routine track search.

Inside sources told The Guardian that the devices were designed to disrupt circuitry used on train tracks but failed. Whoever made the sabotage attempt is believed to have had knowledge of how train tracks work, leading to speculation that they may be connected to the rail industry.

The devices “were intended to disrupt safety systems on the line and falsely send signals to red, stopping trains”, says the newspaper. This would have necessitated manual inspection of the tracks, potentially causing hours of delays to passengers and freight.

BPT Assistant Chief Constable Sean O'Callaghan said: “This was a serious and deliberate attempt by someone to cause significant sabotage and disruption to Britain’s rail network.

“We’re 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.”

News of the investigation comes days after a pro-Brexit protestor caused the cancellation of all Eurostar trains out of London St Pancras over the weekend.

Terry Maher, 44, from north London, “carried a St George’s flag and ventured above the tracks of St Pancras station on Friday night, then spent some 12 hours in a stand-off with police”, says The Sun

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