Italian train conductor who issued 5,000 fines wrongfully dismissed, court rules

An Italian train conductor who was sacked for issuing passengers with too many fines said his “nightmare is over” after the country’s top court ruled he was wrongfully dismissed.

Francesco Bonanno, 61, was accused of “terrorising” passengers by overzealously handing out a record number of fines within the space of a couple of years as he controlled tickets across northern routes on Trenitalia trains.

Trenitalia laid him off in 2017 after receiving a deluge of complaints from unhappy customers, costing it about €10,000 (about £8,500) in reimbursements for fines the company argued had been issued arbitrarily and for mistaken sums. Bonanno, who lives in Jesolo, near Venice, had fined passengers for various infractions, such as boarding a train without a ticket, failing to date-stamp it or for travelling on incorrect routes.

He sought legal action and has officially returned to work after the supreme court said he must be “reintegrated” back into the company. The court described the conductor as someone who worked with “uncommon zeal” and was “inflexible”. However, it ruled Bonanno was only doing his job, albeit in an “extremely meticulous way”, and did not seek to profit personally.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera, Bonanno, who has been a train conductor for 38 years, denied he was “ruthless” despite admitting to issuing a record 5,000 fines.

“I’m not a bounty hunter, but at work you need rigour, and I have to ensure that all passengers travel with a valid ticket,” Bonanno added. “I am never authoritarian or a bully; the passengers love me.”

His lawyer, Lucio Spampatti, said he had never heard of someone being fired because they worked too much. “If you think about it, this story is paradoxical. We’re talking about a train conductor, who as a result of discovering passengers without a ticket, earned the company more than €200,000.”

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