Fearing loss of face, N Railway opts out of Facebook

Once useful for passengers, FB page also attracted negative publicity as users started posting complaints

Northern Railway's Delhi division has withdrawn its Facebook page, apparently because it was attracting negative publicity.

The dedicated page had become a hit among passengers boarding trains from the Capital as it helped them check availability of berths, timings and other information.

Sources said it was withdrawn as it was “bringing negative publicity for the railways after several passengers used the facility to go public with their complaints over railway operations.”

Logging into the Facebook page, a passenger could know the status of vacant berths as well as arrival and departure times – with exact platform numbers – for trains from the three major stations of New Delhi, Nizamuddin and Old Delhi.

Page was useful

As per rules, a reserved ticket can be booked at reservation counters and on the internet only up to the time of preparation of reservation chart.

Once the charts are up,   berths still available can be booked only at the ‘current' counters at major stations.

The Facebook page helped passengers by showing details of available berths after the chart had been prepared.

That hit Unscrupulous elements who charged premium for last-minute confirmed tickets. Senior Northern Railway officials said the decision to shut down the page was taken on technical grounds.

“The decision to shut down the page has been taken on technical grounds. Several proxy pages of the Delhi Division had also emerged over the last few months,” said Northern Railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma.

“People were confused about the authenticity of the page. They were logging into wrong pages for registering complaints. While railway authorities were unaware of the complaints, the message going out was that the railway was not redressing them,” said Sharma.

Maintaining the page also required a dedicated manpower, Sharma added.
However, senior Northern Railway officials who have been a part the project in the past, said on condition of anonymity that the railways could have come up with other ways of dealing with the complaints, instead of closing down the page which had increased the online reach of the railways.

“With increasing internet users’ density, the page had become a huge hit with passengers. It was also developing as a tool to regulate some of the operations in a better way,” said a source.

“Since it was an open platform, many people registered their complaints as well. Instead of closing down the facility, other means like suggesting users to register their complaints at the correct forum should have been the preferred choice,” said the source.

The Facebook page of the Northern Railway was launched in April 2011.
While the Facebook page had over 10,000 ‘likes’, the ‘unique hits’ — or  first-time visitors —  on the website crossed 60,000.

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