Northern Railway is turning to WhatsApp to monitor the cleanliness of its train via group updates supervised by officials, reported PTI. “WhatsApp groups have been created for train and pantry cleanliness, bedrolls and functionality of air conditioners in trains. Photographs are being uploaded in these groups for monitoring by senior officials,” Northern Railway General Manager Vishwesh Chaube said. Every housekeeping department will have separate WhatsApp groups, in which status report of cleanliness will be uploaded on a daily basis. Status report of maintenance inside the coaches will be posted on the group with time-stamped photographs by the onboard housekeeping staff.

Indian Railways, the fourth largest railway network in the world, handles an average of 13 lakh tickets booking per day via the web portal for booking train tickets — Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). In addition, over 1 million people visit the site to check their ticket status.

Indian Railways embracing tech

Indian Railways is also exploring the possible use of automated chatbots, a first for the rail sector, to respond faster to queries and grievances, and to enhance customer experience.

The possible use of chatbots was showcased at a conference on AI in April; a high-level committee is being constituted to take it forward — in coordination with either Microsoft or Oracle. The Ministry has indicated that the bots would address queries on schedules, ticket availability, trains for particular destinations and other such rail travel-related issues.

IRCTC also launched two new apps ‘Menu on Rail’ and ‘Rail Madad’. ‘Menu on Rail’ can be used to check the price of meals served onboard by caterers and avoid being overcharged. Rail Madad was launched to enable quick customer care and grievance redressal; it is designed to allow lodging of complaints, and tracking real-time feedback on the complaints.