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Rail Enquiries may outsource to India

National Rail Enquiries, which is putting its call centres up for tender, hinted it doesn't mind out-of-UK operations.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:22 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

Britain may have given India its rail network in the days of the Raj but now it is possible that if a traveller in Britain tries to find out how to get to Birmingham, London or Manchester for instance, or makes train time enquiries he may have to contact India.

After BT and other financial companies moved its call centres to India, National Rail Enquiries is to put the contract to run its call centres up for tender and has indicated it does not mind whether the operations stay in the UK.

National Rail Enquiries takes on average 170,000 calls a day and the service is run by a joint venture of outsourcing specialist Serco and BT on behalf of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). A spokesman for ATOC, says that "service delivery location" is not an issue.

"We have to get the best tender and one that delivers the value and information quality," he said.

The news of the tender comes at a time when unions have been campaigning against BT's move causing job losses here. If the National Rail Enquiries call centres move to India there are fears of a loss of 2,000 jobs. India has become the favourite of most outsourcing work because of its educated, English-speaking but low-cost workforce.

Unions are already expressing their anger. Roger Lyons, head of Amicus, said: "We are campaigning to make sure that when organisations make choices to send work offshore it is based on quality of service for the customer and not made purely on the grounds of cutting costs.

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST