RAIL bosses have sacked an award-winning stationmaster for what they describe as a serious breach of safety rules.

Managers at South West Trains are refusing to confirm claims that Ian Faletto was dismissed for removing a shopping trolley from the track.

Mr Faletto, 50, was in charge of the busy Lymington Town and Lymington Pier stations.

He scooped a fistful of awards for the way he ran nearby Sway station, which won Best Small Station in the South West Trains Station Pride Awards 2003.

His bosses congratulated him for his first-class customer service, which included putting sweets on the counter and jigsaws in the waiting room.

Just ten weeks after he transferred to Lymington in 2006 it was named the most improved station in the region.

But his outstanding reputation failed to protect him after he was found to have breached regulations aimed at protecting staff and passengers.

A South West Trains spokesman said: "We can confirm that an employee has been dismissed for a serious breach of safety.

"All our employees are aware of the importance of complying with the strict rules governing railway safety, which we have a duty to enforce."

The spokesman refused to comment on claims that Mr Faletto was sacked for removing a shopping trolley from the line.

Some of his customers have launched a campaign to have him re-instated.

The Rev Alex Russell, of Lymington, said Mr Faletto was a loyal public servant with 27 years' experience who had now lost his job and his pension.