Be careful, calls to 139 can derail you!


By Sangamesh Menasinkai

18th October 2010 02:42 AM

The New Indian Express

BANGALORE: Communication gap is a state that occurs when what is being said has not been communicated to the addressee properly and completely.

There can be many causes of communication gap depending on where it exists. Communication gap in a department means that information is either not communicated to the employees of the organisation at all levels or if communicated, it has not been understood properly by the employees.

Over a period of a century, the Railways has been a very effective mode of transport. This is the most highlighted department in India, boasting of one of the largest networks in the world. It carries more than a million tonnes of freight and 14 million passengers covering 6,856 stations daily and it is but natural for the railway network to be adequately protected in terms of its regularity and timeliness. But it is not happening so in the Railways.

Communication gap between the operating and frontline staff in the South Western Railways and National Train Enquiry System (NTES) has been making news for a long time for the errors while giving out the required information.

Often, callers will be not able to contact the customer care executives. These complaints are falling on deaf ears, says a passenger who happened to be a victim of the communication gap in the railways.

Before arriving at the railway station, a passenger of Gadag, who works in Bangalore, enquired about the running status of the Gol Gumbaz Express (train number 6535), that runs between Yeshwantpur and Bijapur, on the Railways call centre (number 139) and he was told that the train was running on time and the expected time of arrival (ETA) at Gadag was 6.10 am. When he reached the station he got to know that the same train was arriving late by more than 150 minutes.

He again called up 139 about the error, but he got the same answer. Later, he lodged a complaint with the divisional railway manager (DRM) of Hubli division. The DRM said in his reply that "it was informed by Mysore division that the above said train was running on time and therefore all the stations in Hubli division were told that the train was running on time."

He also said, "However, your complaint has been sent to DRM, Mysore to take corrective steps in future." But the passenger has not received any clarification from DRM of Mysore division.

The call centre, which is maintained and updated by NTES, started its operation on July 17, 2007 as part of the rail reforms advocated by the then Railway minister Lalu Prasad. This information system, which is toll free from BSNL and MTNL, helps passengers access the information on movement of trains anywhere in India. It provides information about PNR status, seat availability, trains between stations and other information related to the Railways to the users.

The SMS service was launched in 2009, but it has become a way to loot the passengers, who are paying `3 per SMS. Express checked the service by sending an SMS to know the PNR status on October 14, but did not get any response. Information related to ordinary trains is not available on this 24*7 helpline.

NTES has provided direct access facility in Mumbai and New Delhi. One can use this facility to know the running status of a particular train. For instance, if one wants to know the schedule of train number 6592, then he can call 1396592 directly. But this facility is not available in other cities including Bangalore and not even in Hubli which is the headquarters of SWR.


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