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Dial four wrong entries to talk to railway enquiry executive!

NEW DELHI: Tired of trying to reach a call centre executive in Indian Railways' passenger information system 139? Just dial the number and then make
four wrong entries and your call will be directly transferred to an executive.

It is weird but that's how it works. The revelation was made by an official of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) during a hearing at the Central Information Commission (CIC).

Hanuman Sharma, a resident of Rajasthan, wanted some information regarding 139. When he did not get satisfactory answers, he approached the CIC.

The call centre number 139, which works round the clock, is run by the IRCTC. Currently, it operates in several metropolitan cities in the country. Though the option exists to get through to an operator, it does not work most times.

During the hearing March 11, the IRCTC was represented by public information officer (PIO) Anil Chopra and manager (legal) Gurpreet Singh.

Sharma, who presented his case through audio conferencing from Rajasthan, wanted to know the amount charged by the IRCTC per call per minute on basic telephone and mobile telephones and if there was an option to directly talk to call centre executives.

"The respondent stated that the IRCTC does not generate any revenue from the calls. With regard to the possibility of directly talking to human agents, he (IRCTC official) explained that it is possible to do so after (dialling) four wrong entries," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit noted in the order.

"The respondent (IRCTC) also stated that point-wise information is now ready with them and will be provided to the appellant. The Commission directs the PIO to provide the information as sought by the appellant by April 10, 2010," Dixit said in her order.

Lakhs of people call every day to enquire about train ticket reservation details, train arrival-departure times or availability of berths. Passengers usually face problems reaching executives when they call on the inquiry number.

"I often use 139 to make queries. No doubt the number is very helpful but sometimes it's very difficult to reach call centre executives directly," said 25-year-old Parul Sharma.

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