Time stays still for rly help line at KR Puram

Callers inquiries elicit information wrong and robotic

The computerised response (known technically as Integrated Voice Response System) said the Special would arrive at its scheduled time of 8.58 am and Tessy rushed to the station. After waiting there till 9.50 am, she called up 139 again and was told that the train would arrive at 8.58 am!  She then managed to call her relatives on mobile and learnt that the train had been held up at Whitefield for 45 minutes. The train finally reached the station at 10.30 am.

“There is absolutely no point in having such an enquiry system when it gives totally misleading information,” she fumes. “Why is there no updating being done by the Railways?” she demands.

Hers is a recent sample. In another serious incident that took place towards the end of October this year, K M Prakash of Raichur, would have nearly lost his job due to such misleading information. He has now demanded that the Railways pay him a compensation of Rs 50,000 and refund his ticket money to make up for the physical and mental agony he underwent.

Prakash was slated to join a training session organised at Bangalore after joining a multinational company. He called up 139 to confirm the departure time of the train he had to take that night, since an accident had taken place at Mumbai which had delayed many trains.

He was informed by an IRCTC executive that the particular train had been cancelled. Not convinced, Prakash made repeated calls and was given the same information. He dashed to Bangalore taking a bus and was on time for the training.

The shocker in his case was the train had not been cancelled at all. Prakash learnt this to his shock when he tried to get the refund for his ticket at Banashankari.   

Complaints galore

A top railway official conceded that he had been deluged with complaints from public, particularly over the last three months about the shoddy working of the number. “They complain that the IVRS gives outdated information,” he said.

“The agents (call respondents) are contracted by IRCTC and not equipped with enough knowledge to handle the calls,” he sighs. As an example, he points out that passengers who make a mistake in personal details (like age, sex, name spelling) when booking a tatkal ticket are told by agents to meet top railway officials to rectify the mistake on the ticket. “No one is empowered to make any corrections on a tatkal ticket,” he states.

 IRCTC Chief Regional Manager, South Western Railway Division, S Gagarin said he had not received any complaints in this connection.

 He also sought to make a distinction related to complaints. The IVRS is managed by Railways and it their duty to promptly update the computerised information feeding details from the National Train Enquiry System (NTES). “However, if the agents give wrong information, then it becomes the responsibility of IRCTC.”

He also assured that complaints brought to his notice would be dealt with seriously.

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