Choked: Overload of queries clogs Northern Railway’s fog helpline

The Northern Railway Delhi Division's fog helpline numbers have been of little help to passengers.

Due to the sheer number of queries pouring in, many passengers complained that they couldn't get through to the helpline number 011-23747110.

Passengers complained that even the SMS helpline has glitches. The helpline takes long to revert and fails to give correct information, some passengers said.

The two helplines were started in mid-December.

Railways estimates say that on an average, the helpline control room receives three calls every minute. Sometimes the figure has gone up to six calls per minute, and even then, there are many who cannot get through.

"The waiting time on the helpline is usually three to five minutes. Sometimes, despite waiting for over five minutes, the line gets disconnected," Sunita Meena, a passenger, said.

Officials said the number of queries received on the SMS helpline is five per cent higher than the caller helpline.

In this system, passengers have to SMS the five-digit train number to the number 9717631813. The system automatically sends expected arrival/departure times of trains in stations in Delhi.

However, there have been instances when despite sending the correct train number, the system has replied with: "Invalid format. Please send 5 digit numeric train number". The SMS helpline is only for trains originating and arriving at railways stations in Delhi (New Delhi, Delhi Jn, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Anand Vihar Terminal and Delhi Sarai Rohilla) stations during winters. "For queries about of trains reaching Delhi, the SMS helpline sometimes replies: 'The train is not available in New Delhi'," Meena said.

The officials said such cases are rare. "There are five different lines for both call and SMS queries. When there are several queries at once, the lines may have been jammed. But such complaints are rare. Otherwise, both lines are operating without any major glitch," Northern Railway spokesperson Neeraj Sharma said.

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