An award-winning station master has been sacked for breaching health and safety rules, after removing a shopping trolley from the tracks to prevent it derailing a train. Ian Faletto has been a stationmaster for 27 years, during which time he has won several awards for customer service, including one for a Lifetime Achievement. Mr. Faletto, from Southampton, Hants, recounts the dreadful episode that led to his sacking:
“I got to work on Sunday morning and noticed a shopping trolley had been thrown from the end of the platform onto the tracks. I knew the first train of the day was due in around half an hour and was concerned it could be derailed, seriously damaging the carriage and injuring passengers. I considered it an emergency and therefore phoned the signal box in Brockenhurst and asked them to turn off the power so I could retrieve the trolley. I was trying to prevent a rail accident and believe I followed procedure.”
South West Trains saw the incident in a very different light. Managers were examining footage from CCTV cameras and saw Mr. Faletto on the line. They considered his action a serious breach of health and safety rules and he was immediately sacked and relieved of his pension. A South West Trains spokesman said: “We can confirm an employee has been dismissed. This action was taken following a full and thorough internal investigation and the decision was also upheld at an appeal hearing.”
Thousands have signed a petition demanding that South West Trains reinstate Mr. Faletto, claiming standards at the station have nosedived since his dismissal. He was an extremely popular stationmaster, spending thousands of pounds of his own money on brightening up the station with flowers, magazines and jigsaw puzzles in the waiting room, while also putting in hours of unpaid overtime to maintain his own rigorous standards of cleanliness. He also brightened up the lives of passengers with his eccentric dress and exuberant boutonnieres. He frequently wore a top hat on duty.
Since his sacking, the station is said to have already become shabbier and less welcoming. It seems almost inevitable that Mr. Faletto will be replaced by an automated ticket machine and a cappuccino stall run by a franchise. Yet campaigners are not giving up the fight to have him reinstated, and a petition can be signed here: Petitiononline.co.uk