New Delhi: The Railways has extended the use of its 24-hour helpline numbers-138 and 139 to answer queries about the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The idea of using the number 138 is to use, in addition to the call-centre-based agent and interactive voice response system (IVRS) services provided through 139, the wide reach of the Railways to service the large number of its patrons across the country, the national transporter said.
"Our two helplines - 138 and 139 - to answer inquiries, provide assistance and to disseminate relevant information to railway customers and others during the 21-day all-India lockout. Suggestions would also be accepted," it said.
It is also clear that a large number of non-railway related queries, especially pertaining to COVID-19, might come from persons well versed only in the local language. The information sought would also be local and regional, it said.
Railways has also opened a railway board control cell to ensure seamless flow of information and suggestions between railway administration and the public.
This control office would work round the clock and shall be manned by a director level officer, railways said.
It would monitor calls received on the centralised helpline number 139 and the decentralised helpline number 138, in addition to monitoring trends on social media, especially Twitter, to communicate and alleviate any difficulties faced by railway customers and others, the national transporter said.
"Further complaints, suggestions or queries can also be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org," it said.
While 139 will continue to work centrally, 138 is a helpline that will take the caller directly to the local railway division so as to provide him the updated local and regional information.
Both 138 and 139, as well as social media cell, will be manned round-the-clock to answer inquiries, provide assistance (wherever possible) and to disseminate relevant information to railway customers and others, it said.