A railway maintenance worker who stole more than two miles of railway track has been jailed for two years.
The 2.5 mile stretch of railway track was valued at £250,000
Glen Pendleton, 49, hired a crew of workers who used JCBs, a tipper truck, lorries and floodlighting to remove the track from the disused line.
The track - at Leamside Line near Penshaw, on the outskirts of Sunderland - was taken up over a six-day period in January this year.
Pendleton, of Worksop, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday to one charge of theft relating to the £250,000 track belonging to Railtrack plc.
The court was told that Pendleton, a former Jarvis worker, expected to make around £8,000 profit by selling the track as scrap.
He had set up a deal with a scrap merchant to sell the track for £40 a tonne but was arrested before any money changed hands.
The court was told that Pendleton hired workers from the Sheffield area and made them wear official maintenance jackets to carry out the work, for which he paid them between £30 and £50 a day.
The theft was discovered when a genuine Jarvis employee spotted the "workmen" taking up sections of track, the court heard.
Judge David Wood told Pendleton it had been a "sophisticated operation" using knowledge he had acquired while previously working for rail maintenance company Jarvis.