Can you smell that?

Or is it just me? ‘Stationmaster SACKED for leaping onto tracks and pulling trolley out of path of oncoming trains‘ claims the Daily Mail – a story so scandalous that it receives the coveted BIGGEST STORY IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW SPOT on the Mail website:

Elf N Safety gone mad
Arms crossed in disgust, Ian Faletto is a tabloid dreamboat.

So, Mr Faletto ‘leaped’ onto the track and pulled a trolley out of the way of not just one train, but oncoming trains. He’s clearly some kind of superhero, yet here he is in PC-elf-n-safety-gone-mad-Britain getting the sack for saving the day.

What is that smell?

In the first three paragraphs of the article the Daily Mail makes it perfectly clear exactly what happened:

A dedicated station master has been sacked after 27 years working for the same company – for pulling a shopping trolley off the track.

Ian Faletto jumped onto the line at Lymington Pier train station, Hants, and pulled the obstacle back onto the platform after it was chucked on by yobs.

He was dismissed for ‘a serious breach of safety’ by heartless South West Trains for his act of bravery, which prevented a crash with oncoming trains.

Yet the Daily Mail then makes it clear (in the words of Mr Faletto) that:

‘I saw the trolley on the line at Lymington Pier, got power turned off and managed to remove it before the first train arrived that morning.

The BBC report the same:

The Reverend Alex Russell, vicar of St Mark’s Church, Pennington, has started a petition calling for Mr Faletto’s reinstatement.

She said Mr Faletto had told her he saw the shopping trolley on the line and saw a “potential danger”.

He then called a nearby station to switch the power off before removing the trolley from the track, she said.

So, according to the Reverend Alex Russell and Mr Faletto he didn’t spontaneously leap onto the tracks in front on an oncoming train because presumably the same notification that switched off the power would also have warned any train drivers of an obstacle on the track.

The BBC also make it abundantly clear that the company – South West Trains – have refused to comment on the specific reasons why Mr Faletto had been sacked, but they did reveal the following:

A South West Trains spokesperson said an employee had been dismissed for a “serious breach of safety” but refused to officially explain what this was.

“This action was taken following a full and thorough internal investigation and the decision was also upheld at an appeal hearing,” he said.

“Our absolute priority is to run a safe railway for our passengers and staff.

“All of our employees are aware of the importance of complying with the strict rules governing railway safety, which we have a duty to enforce, and the serious consequences of disregarding them.”

So, the decision was made following an investigation and survived an appeal. It seems to me that this must have been a serious matter and that we’re only – as usual – hearing one side of the story. The truth is that South West Trains have to respect the privacy of the ex-employee so can only confirm basic facts and not give further details. This suits the tabloid press who can call said company ‘heartless’ and blame health and safety safe in the knowledge that the truth probably will not out as long as we only hear from Mr Faletto and friends.

Whilst all I am left with is this annoying whiff of bullshit.

Those interested in the original article posted on the Southern Daily Echo website can revel in the comments – some regarding their personal impressions of Mr Faletto, some blaming ‘Political Correctness’ for the decision, invoking Stewart Lee’s thoughts on confused people unable to seperate political corectness and health and safety legislation.

10 thoughts on “Can you smell that?”

  1. Oh so much more to this tale. There is no way in the world that requesting the power be turned off a track so an obstruction can be removed would result in a sacking and an upheld appeal. Once again this is a Mail story that fits a tired agenda.
    However I must admit I laughed so hard at the sheer originality of the misspelling of “health” in the article that I ruptured my abdomen and suffered a massive internal heammorage.

  2. I have to agree with hannanibal, the way they always spell ‘health’ like that just never gets old. Also, top marks to the Mail for the highly original pose in the above photo. Where do they get all these ideas from?

  3. I’m sorry, but your horrendously obtrusive advert made me resort to using ‘Adblock’. I still love you.

  4. @Tim Watts
    HAHAHA! His arms crossed pose is even more epic on the Telegraph site.
    Is it just me or have I seen him before?

  5. “The stern, hideous granite face of political correctness yet again in the form of elf and saftee jobsworth fascism. I hope this man shames the Company at a tribunal. The ‘manager’ who made the decision needs sacking… ”

    In the Telegraph comments. From PC to ‘elf n saftee’ to fascism in one fell swoop. The story could be a massive misunderstanding (he was sacked after CCTV coverage was watched apparently), and maybe it’s all a big cock-up.

    But as we know, cock-ups don’t exist, they are all part of some lefty conspiracy to marry your daughter off to an asylum seeker.

  6. he problem with Ian Faletto is that he ” assumed ” that he was dealing with a railway from nearly 20 years or so ago .

    He was a South West Trains Employee , they merely operate the service using trains leased from the Banks . The station and the land belongs to quasi private company but state underwritten Network Rail , all South West Trains own in that station are bits of Office Furniture and equipment .

    The track is NOT his concern end of . The Bobby ( Signalman ) who works for Network Rail can’t switch the juice off , that can only be done by Control . They’ll only switch the juice off if there was a fatality etc .

    You needed insulation gloves , wooden paddles , wooden bars to put over the juice rail etc even in BR days .

    We used to get contradictory waffle about PTS cards , you could run the risk of a Form 1 for being on the track even if a train had hit someone and killed someone .

    Network Rail have got MOM staff that come out in a van if there is due course for concern .

    There is a lot of politics , some of it you would not believe , in BR days there was a top down Military chain of command , now the chain of command is long and convoluted . The fragmented and dysfunctional railway is held together by contracts instead .

    All the different interests work against each other , fining and blaming each other . The culture is very paranoid . You do not get involved in that ! , and Management can be very spiteful and vindictive re all the petty politics .

    It is true that Stagecoach ( Parent Company ) of SWT would love to get rid of station staff to cut costs , they are out to make a profit …..they don’t give a flying one about anything else ; but the franchisee does not allow it . However the smart game is to give the barstewards nothing .

    I’ve had a Area Manager staring at me because of whistle blowing for the right reasons , anonymous letters ; printed in the Union Newsletter and ” coincidental ” visits everyday thereafter ; it wasn’t a problem as everything was by the book , and if said AM wanted to bitch about anything , I’d have called his bluff . In any case he gave up ….it’s the only way to play these people .

    What does smell about this is that the District apparently had to examine a CCTV tape where a passenger went under a stationary train to retrieve something .

    It is true that some managers wouldn’t dare say as much as boo to a goose and would cowardly throw their own staff to the wolves to save their sorry asses , he might well be a jumped up expletive deleted hawk ! promoted under the Peter Principle beyond his ability . .
    However with all the politics , I’d be very careful if there was a CCTV camera .

    However as regards to a Industrial Tribunal , I feel Ian would only have a case if SWT Management have been less than truthful re the justification for his dismissal . Or ! if adverse inferences can be drawn with all the cost saving politics with or without a small ” p ” .

    If SWT have followed their own due procedure and not botched anything by dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s , giving Ian enough rope to hang himself with warnings , SWT would be seen as acting reasonably .

    Secondly SWT could argue that with the unprecedented adverse publicity that the District Manager has been harassed and they’d have a duty of care to protect him . Most organisations biggest nightmare is a disgruntled manager breaking ranks and blowing the whistle damaging corporate image .

    As for the Union Bashing comments from another century , I very much doubt that Ian is a RMT member , if you do things well out of your remit and come in on your days off for nothing ; it gives the reps problems when representing / protecting their members . His loyalty to SWT was very misplaced or naive at best .

    Given the poor standard of some ! Railway Management , even some ardent right wingers concede unions are a necessary evil and you could argue some of these Train Operating Companies get precisely the union they deserve due to their confrontational style .

    Please don’t shoot the messenger !! Thanks

  7. I have long considered commenting publicly on this matter because South West Trains have been rumoured to have less care about their staff and not much care about the passengers either. However, if Mr Faletto did not have the necessary permission to be on the track (and I understand you need to be trained to be on the track of your job does not warrant it), then obviously he should have alerted the signalman and asked Network Rail to come and remove the offending obstacle. Unfortunately, to do what he did without the appropriate qualifications means that he is treated just as harshly as the member of the public who threw the item on to the track in the first place. He was simply not allowed to be there. Thats the function of Network Rail. Having said that, it would have been more advisable for South West Trains to dispose of the matter with a verbal caution to Mr Faletto, rather than throwing the book at him.

  8. @AlexGreen – blooming heck – did the precis button fall off your keyboard? This story is fascinating – if for no other reason than the fact that the Daily Mail is now posing in support of someone spending all his days in negotiating meetings with his union, the RMT!!!! When was the last time the Mail was trumpeting a case that the RMT was rumoured to be defending? Never, that’s when.
    They paint Ian’s rise from humble beginnings to the haughty position of Station Master (that post disappeared in the 60’s) on the princely salary of £17,000 a year. He didn’t rise very far then, eh?

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