Twitter, a track that runs parallel on Indian Railways

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Hardly anyone would have imagined health emergencies getting addressed in the train a few years ago. Now, tweet your problem and the doctor is there when the next station arrives.

Indian Railways celebrates Railway week in April each year to commemorate the humble beginning of the first train between Bombay and Thane on April 16, 1853.

With a history of 163 years, Indian Railways is now using ‘tweet track’ to address issues and concern of its users.

The first train service commenced with 400 guests on 14 railway carriages. As the years passed, it started becoming a complex structure as network of tracks, stations, trains and manpower grew. Now, Indian Railways handles around 27 million passengers a day, or around 8 billion passengers a year.

Outreach programme

After presenting the Railway Budget on February 25, Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister, had stated that the use of Twitter is a largest outreach programme by any organisation to reach people on real-time basis in a complex structure such as the Railways.

If you go to the Twitter page of Indian Railways, you find a list of 80-plus Twitter handles of general managers of zonal railways and divisional railway managers of various divisions. Barring a few, most of these handles were set up in July and months after that last year.

Twitter handles of Indian Railways (@RailMinIndia) and the minister (@sureshpprabhu) have nearly 9.57 lakh and 8.03 lakh followers, respectively. While many handles of zonal and divisional heads have more than 1,000 followers, a few send tweets regularly.

In an informal chat with BusinessLine during his visit to Mangaluru, a senior official of Konkan Railway said a dedicated person monitors twitter round the clock. The officials also monitor whatever is being tagged or the notifications they get on Twitter. Indian Railways get both bouquets and brickbats by users, in good numbers.

While many take to Twitter to complain about the lack of facilities, or cleanliness or about the demand for bribes, some use it as an SOS tool.

The users also shower praises on the good works done by the staff and the better amenities provided in the coach, along with posting pictures of clean station premises.

On welfare measures

In fact, Suresh Prabhu actively re-tweets praises the Railways gets. He also tweets about various development and welfare activities taken up by his ministry. On its part, Twitter handles from Indian Railways focus on action-taken on the complaints filed by passengers, and the matters such as delays in the train running, among others.

Some divisional railway managers and zonal general managers use the platform to display the news stories on Railways, and to inform the implementation of various development works.

Some divisions have posted info on how to use Twitter for solving problems. It also asks users to post their mobile numbers for assistance.

It is not that all handles pinned on the Railway Ministry’s Twitter page are active. One of the handles of a zonal general manager is yet to send a tweet, and another one liste on the page is disabled.

Source: Business Line

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