In what is hindering the railways from using technology to reach out to passengers, it has been found that 30 per cent of the mobile numbers provided by passengers during online ticket booking are wrong.
The fact came to light during a check conducted by Western Railway (WR) in January this year to gauge the efficacy of an SMS campaign that was initiated to counter catering malpractices.
“We found that 30 per cent of the numbers provided by passengers were wrong. While we initially thought the numbers belonged to people who might have booked tickets on behalf of the passengers, we later found this was also not true in many cases,” said a senior railway officer.
The officer said that the administration was now investigating if there were any irregularities in the online booking system.
In a bid to warn passengers about catering malpractices and grievance redressal mechanism, the WR began an extensive campaign titled “Know your rights” in five trains of which three are from Mumbai.
As a pilot project, mobile numbers of passengers of five trains were collected from the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Limited (IRCTC) soon after booking was made. An SMS was sent five minutes after the passenger boarded the train.
The idea was to ensure that catering-related messages were sent to passengers while they were travelling for greater impact, and not at the time of booking when the messages are unlikely to be read.
At least 10 complaints related to overcharging and unavailability of rate cards are being registered every day.
Of the three trains in Mumbai, most complaints are coming from passengers of Paschim Express and least from Avadh Express, which goes from Bandra Terminus to Muzzaffarpur junction in Bihar.
Railway officers are of the view that passengers of Avadh Express are not using technology to give a feedback on catering due to lack of literacy.
As a part of the project, an SMS stating the standard vegetarian and non-veg meal rates along with the helpline number and email id for complaints is sent to passengers during the journey.
Stickers informing passengers about the ongoing campaign have also been pasted inside coaches.