Railways' helpline needs help of its own

Published: 17 December, 2013 07:03 IST | Vedika Chaubey |

MiD DAY finds the SMS-based complaint helpline number 8121281212 set up by the authorities provides little or no help to commuters, as the complaints aren't addressed and in most cases, are forwarded without any action being taken

Helpline numbers are most crucial in times of emergencies. But, it seems that the new helpline set up by the railway authorities so that passengers can complain about any issue, needs help of its own. On Friday, MiD DAY’s correspondent boarded two trains one from CST and and the other from Dadar and during the journey used the number 8121281212 provided by the railways to passengers and was appalled to learn that the complaints went unheeded.

MiD DAY’s correspondent boarded the Punjab Mail from CST at 7.40 pm and sent an SMS. She alighted from the train later, after her complaint was not heeded. Pic/Atul Kamble

Train: 12137 Punjab Mail from CST
Time: 7.40 pm
Complaint: Lack of security and no water in the toilet
CR’s response: Once MiD DAY’s correspondent boarded the train, she sent a complaint to 8121281212. Within minutes, the reporter received a reference ID number and was asked to resend the message. Following instructions, the complaint was forwarded once again. However, this time, a message was sent saying that the complaint didn’t pertain to South Central Railway (SCR) and that it had been forwarded to Central Railway, Mumbai on 9004411111. Shocked by the reaction to the complaint, the reporter alighted from the train.

Train: 19005 Saurashtra Mail from Dadar
Time: 8.40 pm
Complaint: Lack of security and no water in the toilet
WR’s response: The same procedure was followed and a reference ID number was sent saying that the complaint had been forwarded to the Western Railway authorities at 9004490011. However, around 11 pm, the correspondent received a call from the WR control room asking if a complaint had been registered and what the nature of the complaint was. We said that the complaint had been looked into and we had alighted from the train a few hours ago.

What passengers had to say
Subhash Gupta, member of National Railway Users Consultative Committee (NRUCC), said, “This is a helpline for all passengers and this matter should be taken seriously. A helpline means providing immediate help. We should be given a number where our complaints are heard and timely aid is provided.” Umesh Jha, a regular passenger to Varanasi, said, “Our complaints should be taken seriously. Not all passengers know each and every helpline number, and a common helpline is useful to us. But what’s the use if our grievances aren’t heeded or paid attention to?

Atul Rane, chief PRO for CR, said, “We don’t have a reverse feedback system for our helpline number. But, we do look into each complaint and take action after receiving a complaint.” Despite attempts, WR officials remained unavailable. 

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