THE GERMAN flag was raised over Manchester Piccadilly station yesterday in protest against a takeover of the Northern Rail franchise by the country’s state operator.
Members of rail unions hoisted the flag as they staged a protest outside on the first day that the line will be run by Arriva, which is part of Deutsche Bahn.
Workers also disrupted a launch event being held by the company inside the station.
Unions say foreign ownership of the line is a “nonsense” and are fighting plans to sack train guards and close station ticket offices.
And they were sent a morale-boosting message of solidarity yesterday by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Corbyn said: “We fully support your campaign to oppose driver-only operations on Northern and cuts to station staff and rail ticket offices.
“That’s because Labour wants what passengers and rail workers want — proper staffing to protect the safety of stations and trains, proper staffing to provide assistance and assurance to passengers, and a properly funded railway with fair fares.
“That’s why Labour is also committed to a publicly owned railway — so that every penny invested in our railway goes to maintaining and improving our railway.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said Mr Corbyn’s support was a “huge boost” to their campaign.
“It may be April Fool’s Day but it is no joke for railways across the north to have their services set up for plundering by Deutsche Bahn at the expense of investment here in the UK. It makes a total mockery of George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ nonsense.”
Arriva promised to deliver a “new look” franchise with new trains and faster journeys.
Managing director Chris Burchell said: “We are investing in new and refurbished trains, journeys will be improved through refreshed networks and timetables, and our trains will offer more capacity and comfort.”
TSSA rail union leader Manuel Cortes vowed to hold the company to their promises to passengers.
But he said: “Don’t be fooled into thinking Deutsche Bahn is in business in Britain for our benefit when its objective is to make profits out of British commuters so it can subsidise fares at home.”