During his journey by train to Delhi’s Nizamuddin earlier this month, businessman Arvind Gupta experienced railways in its typical form.
The toilet was dirty, the rude waiter did not give him extra bread even after he asked for one, and at the station the coolie charged more than the approved rate.
Usually, passengers find issues like these as too common and too petty in everyday railway affairs to be brought to the notice of the authorities.
And an angry Gupta filed a written complaint at the station just for the record, without really hoping for any change.
But to his utter surprise, Gupta got a call from a railway official in less than 24 hours informing him that his complaint was taken care of.
The ticket-checking staff was penalized for not getting the toilets cleaned; the catering services company had taken up the matter with the waiter and his supervisor, and that the coolie had not really overcharged, Gupta was mistaken.
“I did not expect anything to happen with my complaint at all. Frankly, I was too shocked to react,” said Gupta.
For the past one month, more and more passengers like Gupta are getting “shocked” like this.
They don’t know that as a new policy, Northern Railway has started fixing all written complaints within a record 24 hours.
This has been possible by eliminating arguably the biggest hurdle to a smooth administration— the infamous sarkaari bureaucracy.
Cutting through layers and layers of bureaucracy and the long chain of command, which is nothing but red tape, all the complaints generated across Northern Railway network are reaching directly to the supreme boss of the organization—the general manager (GM).
The new decree is that, every day the latest entries in the complaint registers everywhere—waiting/retiring rooms, trains, station manager’s office etc—would go directly to the GM sitting in Delhi.
From cleanliness, misbehaving staff and late running of trains to corrupt officials, tasteless food and what not, the GM holds court with his officials everyday and the officials in turn give feedback to the complainants.
“This is a zero-tolerance policy towards any complaints,” said Vivek Sahai, Northern Railway General Manager. “The passenger is only interested in seeing his complaints fixed as fast as possible, so we are emphasizing on feedback as well.”
Complaints have come down by 50 per cent in September as opposed to August.
“We have to send the status report on complaints to the GM everyday. Now, if any complaint goes unattended, the officer concerned faces the music,” said a senior official in the Delhi division of Norther Railway on the condition of anonymity.
So next time you spot something wrong with the train service, however small, file a written complaint.
And wait for the phone-call.