Matt Litton came to the rescue when Sanaa Shahid was targeted by vile Alexander MacKinnon while travelling on the 2.30pm Virgin Trains service from London to Glasgow.
The 42-year-old Preston-based train manager challenged the bully after he told Mrs Shahid she didn’t belong in the country.
Branding him a “drunken racist” Virgin employee Matt made sure MacKinnon was arrested before staying with the mum and her son Zayn to reassure them.
And Matt has now been commended as frontline employee of the year at the Scottish Transport Awards and hailed for “standing up to intolerance”.
“I got a call to say an incident had happened in first class but I didn’t know what I was walking into,” Matt said.
“Sanaa told me she’d be racially abused and when I approached Mr MacKinnon he completely denied it.
“I could see she was shaken and angry so I sat opposite her to reassure her and I don’t think Mr MacKinnon realised I was there.
“Then he got on the phone talking about being accused of being a racist and that’s when he turned round and said things like Sanaa didn’t belong in the country.
“It was disturbing stuff and so I think a called him drunken racist and told him he had to leave the train.
“I stayed with Sanna and Zayn because I wanted them to know they had my support and we’re on their own.
“To be commended at the awards night was a proud night for my family and it was great to see Sanaa again under nicer circumstances.”
Sanaa nominated Matt for the award and said she was pleased to see his work recognised.
“He was the only person in that carriage who came to our help,” she said.
“I believe he genuinely went above and beyond his call of duty when he stood up for my son and I that day by telling Alexander Mackinnon his behaviour will not be tolerated any further and arranging his swift removal from the train. We need more people like Matt around us, who aren’t afraid to speak up when they see injustice.”
But Matt says the incident was “all in a day’s work”.
“These things don’t happen on a regular basis but when they do it’s our job to act,” he said.
“No-one should ever be subjected to anything like this when they travel.”