Rail News

Nexans Awarded First CORE-TAG Anti-Theft Cable Technology Contract By SNCF

Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF) has awarded Nexans, a worldwide expert in the cable industry, its first contract to design and manufacture specialised rail cable that includes the new CORE-TAG anti-theft cable technology. This cable will be installed in the network infrastructure in 4 of the regions operated by Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), the company that owns and maintains France’s rail network.

The earthing cable Nexans will supply comprises a lead-sheathed copper conductor with a 25 mm2 cross-section. The cable has been manufactured at Nexans’ facilities in Mehun-sur-Yèvre in the centre of France.

CORE-TAG Anti-Theft Cable Technology

Most cables – earthing cables in particular – are constructed mainly from copper, making them extremely valuable and appealing to thieves (due to the high resale value of scrap copper).

Usually when cable is stolen the insulation, which could be used to identify the owner, is burnt off the cable just leaving the copper conductor. In contrast to more complex and expensive tagging techniques such as those using rare earth elements, Nexans’ CORE-TAG solution involves installing a coded fire-resistant copper tape that is intertwined In the conductor.

The dot-matrix markings on the coded tape – typically identifying the owner (RFF in this case) – make it easy to trace the origins of the stolen copper when it is brought to a scrap dealer, even after the insulation has been burnt off.

The presence of the CORE-TAG within the cable is immediately apparent simply by visual examination of the cut cable cross-section. A length of only around 25 cm then has to be opened up to read the identification code. Since the tape is embedded along the length of the conductor, it is virtually impossible for the thief to remove it.

Cables that incorporate CORE-TAG are just as easy to handle and install as conventional cables, using the same tools and accessories.

Prevention of Railway Cable Copper Theft

“Copper theft is a worldwide concern that creates serious safety and operational issues for railway networks and Nexans is working closely with many customers to develop solutions that can significantly help to address this problem,” says Jean Fehlbaum, Vice President Marketing Infrastructure and Industrial projects at Nexans. “Recycling is a vital element within the copper supply chain. But it is very difficult to establish the origin of recycled copper. However, we believe the CORE-TAG technology offers excellent potential to make rail cables less attractive to steal, as well as providing the wider copper supply chain with new tools to identify when stolen copper comes into the eco-system. In addition to developing this solution, our key task is promoting it to the recycling community, so they know what to look for, and also ensuring that potential thieves understand that they will find it much harder to dispose of stolen rail cable.”

Nexans is currently talking with various operators in Europe, Africa and Australasia about the solution.

The CORE-TAG cable technology can also be used in any industry where cable theft is a problem.

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