Metal thieves caused chaos today by stealing cables from a line in Bedfordshire.
The theft affected the Midland Main Line just north of Flitwick - stopping services running between Bedford and Luton.
The effect was felt on services stretching almost 200 miles - as far south as Brighton, and as far north as Derby. Russell Hookey reports.
Russell Spink, Spokesman for Network Rail, says Olympic athletes were among those hit by the cable theft on the rail system last night.
Rail bosses dealing with the chaos of today's cable theft between Bedford and Bletchley are calling for reforms to regulate the scrap metal industry.
Thousands of passengers travelling between London and Bedford have been delayed after almost 1km of signalling cable was stolen last night.
Signalling was only restored at around 3pm, however it is likely that disruption will continue for the remainder of the day.
Now rail chiefs have said incidents like today's have highlighted the need to halt the market for illegal metal.
– Martin Frobisher, Network Rail route managing director
This morning’s incident shows the huge damage that just one incident can do. We firmly believe that without legal reform we will continue to see thousands of hours of delay and millions of pounds wasted on these crimes.
Network Rail has taken extensive measures to protect our vital railway but we are only stemming the tide.
Reform that effectively takes away the illegal market in scrap metal, including an effective licensing regime and adequate power to police and magistrates, is sorely needed to help stamp out the misery caused by these thieves."
Cable thieves in Bedfordshire have caused chaos for rail users today with several services either suspended or disrupted. First Capital Connect and East Midland trains are both affected. Russell Hookey has the latest.
Network Rail have confirmed that 1,000m of cable has been stolen from the line between Bedford and Bletchley.
A spokesman told ITV Anglia that rail delays would continue for the rest of the day while engineers worked to make repairs.