DOZENS of rail services were disrupted after vandals targeted signal boxes on a main route.
Commuters had to be ferried by bus to their destinations following vandalism on the line through Hartlepool and east Durham yesterday.
Yobs wrecked three signal boxes between Seaton Carew and Seaham and services were out of action for almost four hours.
The problem was first reported at 7.50am and buses were used as an alternative means of transport as Northern Rail trains were stopped and Grand Central trains were diverted.
Engineers worked to fix the problem and services were running as normal at 11.40am.
A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “We had reports of a number of signal boxes deliberately vandalised.
“It affected Grand Central trains and Northern Rail trains and also had a negative impact on freight deliveries, which we all need and nobody thinks about.
“Northern Rail put buses on and Grand Central trains were diverted while we assessed the damage.
“This was obviously a deliberate attempt to disrupt rail services in the North-East and we will do everything we can in our power, along with British Transport Police, to press to get justice as much as we can.”
A British Transport Police (BTP) spokeswoman confirmed it was aware of the incident and appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Anyone with information about the vandalism should contact BTP on (0800) 405040, quoting reference number 74 of October 18, 2011, or Crimestoppers anonymously on (0800) 555111.