A female passenger travelling alone in a train in Maharashtra sent out a distress tweet directed at railways minister Suresh Prabhu’s handle in November last year.
“@RailMinIndia plz plz help in train no 18030. One male passenger harassing me at Shegaon. I am in train and terrified,” she had tweeted.
Her tweet was immediately noted by a senior railway official who sought the details of her train and nearest station. When her train reached the next station, jawans from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) were waiting to attend to her.
In February this year, a request on Twitter drew a prompt response from Prabhu who helped a patient in getting his tickets in Dibrugarh Rajdhani confirmed for travel from Jalpaiguri to Delhi.
Ramesh Kumar had to come to the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) for urgent medical assistance but did not have a confirmed ticket on the Dibrugrah Rajdhani. An NGO, Uday Foundation, then approached Prabhu through Twitter and sought his help for urgent journey arrangements for Kumar.
These are some of the several examples of how the railway minister, who is very active on Twitter, has helped passengers in distress through social media.
Speaking about the use of social media in reaching out to passengers, Prabhu said in his rail budget speech on Thursday that his ministry had set up a social media cell responsible for taking action on passengers’ request for help.
“Indian Railways’ responsiveness to customer needs reached new heights when we turned social media into a feedback and complaint redressal mechanism,” he said.
Giving the details, he said the railways has set up a dedicated IVRS system to seek direct feedback from passengers. More than one lakh telephone calls are made every day to seek inputs from passengers.
“With all these measures, we were able to give voice to the customer that was not only heard but also acted upon. These channels were used not only to seek feedback but to provide medical care, safety of passengers especially women and other aspects of human care and also helped us to monitor the cleanliness of stations and trains,” Prabhu said.
The railway minister said social media will be further used as a tool to bring in transparency in railways’ day to day working.
“All procurement, including procurement of works, has moved to the e-platform. We intend to usher into a new era by switching over to paperless contract management system where not only the bids are invited online, but the entire process leading to award of a tender is also done electronically. We have completed the trial run for the above and intend to roll it out on a Pan-India basis in next financial year,” he said.