Protest on tracks halts Manchester Piccadilly services

Train services at Manchester Piccadilly railway station have grounded to a halt after protesters trespassed onto tracks.

All lines in and out of the station have been suspended, with a number of cancellations and delays of up to 90 minutes expected.

A normal service is expected to resume at 5.30pm.

Earlier, National Rail said in a statement: “Protesters are on the tracks at the station and attempting to climb overhead line equipment.”

The protesters on the tracks. Pic: Chris Woodhouse
Protesters trespassed onto the tracks. Pic: Chris Woodhouse

Among those present at the station was Chris Woodhouse, who said families were in tears on the platforms as trains bound for airports were among those cancelled because of the demonstration.

Images on social media showed protesters sitting on train tracks with yellow banners in support of the YPG (People’s Protection Units), a Kurdish militia group.

Some read: “Stop Turkey from helping ISIS terrorists”.

Manchester Piccadilly protesters. Pic: Sophy Colbert / @sophycolbert
Some banners read ‘Stop Turkey from helping ISIS terrorists’. Pic: Sophy Colbert / @sophycolbert

The demonstration follows several months of conflict between Kurdish groups and Turkish forces in Afrin, northern Syria.

Turkey regards the YPG as a terrorist group, although it is not a proscribed organisation.

The government in Ankara has accused the YPG of supporting another armed Kurdish organisation, the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which is considered a terrorist group by NATO.

The demonstrators waving Kurdish political flags. Pic: @cannychad
Demonstrators wave Kurdish political flags. Pic: @cannychad

Red flags displaying the emblem of the proscribed PKK are also visible in images of the Manchester Piccadilly protest posted to social media.

The PKK is a proscribed organisation in the UK.

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Greater Manchester Police did not immediately comment on its being flown during the demonstration.

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