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Rail services from London to Stansted Airport and other parts of Essex were crippled on Thursday following the latest cable theft.
There were no trains to Stansted Airport or Cambridge from London Liverpool Street until late afternoon after the theft shortly before midnight on Wednesday night between Harlow Mill and Sawbridgeworth.
A train hit part of the overhead line equipment, smashing the windscreen, and bringing down the overhead power lines shortly after cables had been cut and left dangling.
Robin Gisby, Network Rail managing director of network operations, said: "Yet again, mindless thieves have caused delays and disruption for thousands of rail passengers in the capital, including many people trying to get to Stansted for flights.
"Cable theft is a huge issue and one which all affected industries are committed to tackling - but we can't do it alone.
"We need to see tougher sentences for cable thieves in the courts and the police must be given the powers they need to shut down the rogue scrap dealers who are profiting from the travelling public's misery.''
There have been several signalling cable thefts in the past two weeks, causing huge disruption to services and leading to travel chaos for tens of thousands of passengers.