Helpline numbers become most crucial during crisis situations. Ironically, these very digits — 1276 — left Western Railway (WR) commuters wanting after Saturday’s mishap at Andheri. The apparent reason why almost all the calls made on the helpline number went unanswered was because the WR, on Friday, had changed the number from 1276 to 1311.
All those who tried calling on the old number (1276), soon after the head-on collision between the two trains, complained that either the number was unreachable or was constantly busy. What added to their misery was the fact that none of the coaches of the trains involved in the mishap had highlighted the change in helpline number. The old number (1276) was introduced in July 2011 as an alternative to the seven-digit 2300400.
“Several commuters are unaware of the change in helpline number from 1276 to 1311. It is very important for both the Central Railway
(CR) and WR to have a common helpline number,” said National Rail Users Consultative Committee member Subhash Gupta.
Apart from complaining about the non-operational helpline number, commuters also expressed displeasure over WR’s inability to respond quickly, and its careless attitude towards travellers stuck inside the train or at platforms, by keeping them in dark about the collision.
“After the mishap, misleading announcements were made that services had been affected due to rain. We have received several complaints from commuters claiming that during such times helpline numbers are of least use,” said Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh member Kailash Verma. Verma was present at Andheri station when the collision occurred.
When contacted, WR spokesperson said that all the helpline numbers were operational on Saturday, and were easily reachable via cellphone and landlines. “There is no problem with any of the numbers,” the spokesperson said. He also added that all the calls made on the old number were being diverted to the new one and that he was able to get through 1276 when he tried calling on it.
CRS to hold public hearing
The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) will be in the city today to inspect the accident site following which a public hearing would be held either on Wednesday or Thursday. All the victims of the mishap can come forward and register their statements during this hearing.