In order to assist railway passengers, other citizens and help resolve issues in freight operations, Indian Railways has upscaled the helpline facilities after declaration of Lockdown. Since its inception a few days back, the facility has become a huge management success so much so that Railway personnel have responded to over 2,05,000 queries in first two weeks of lockdown on designated communication platforms, 90% (over 1,85,000) of which were handled through direct human interaction over the phone.
Railway control office has been doing 24×7 monitoring of four communication and feedback platforms- Helplines-139, 138, social media (esp Twitter) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org). This is to ensure seamless flow of information and suggestions between Railway Administration and general public during the lockdown.
The helpline operation is being manned round-the-clock by Director-level officers. These officers monitor citizen feedback and their suggestions received on social media and email, and ensure that appropriate action is taken to alleviate any difficulties faced by Railway customers (especially in goods transportation) during the period of lockdown. Field officers at the level of ADRMs monitor at their divisional level as a part of this team.
RailMadad Helpline 139 answered over 1,40,000 queries on one-on-one basis in first two weeks of the lockdown, in addition to queries answered by its IVRS facility. While the queries are mostly for commencement of train services and the relaxed refund rules (which itself was done on the basis of the feedback from public), the social media is flush with appreciation of Railways’ efforts in these trying times. Some of the efforts lauded include running of freight trains carrying essential items, waiving penalties for late release of wagons, converting coaches into hospital wards, distribution of food packets, preparing PPEs, sanitizers & other equipment to Fight Against Covid-19 etc..
Calls received on Helpline 138 are geo-fenced i.e calls land on the nearest Railway Divisional Control Office (manned round-the-clock by Railway personnel well-versed in local language and familiar with local issues) as per the location of the caller. This ensures that callers receive information and guidance in the language that they are comfortable speaking. This new feature overcomes the language barrier, and makes flow of information to Railway customers and others faster as the pertinent information is readily available with the Division.
It is pertinent to add that Indian Railways has taken 360 degree effort to ensure that interest of the passengers and all commercial clients are taken care off and national supply chains keep running all the time .