Over 360 railway officials, with few working from home, were engaged in responding to a whopping 1.25 lakh queries of anxious rail users in the last ten days.

"The queries were responded to by 355 personnel (280 in divisions, 35 in 139 call-centre and 32 in RailMadad Cell) and monitored by eight railway personnel in Railway Board (including five officers)," railway officials told BusinessLine .

These officials answered queries received from Helplines, social media, and RailMadad e-mail.

Over the last ten days, around 1,25,000 queries were received on Helplines – 139 and 138, social media, and RailMadad email, said the railways in a release on Monday. About 87 per cent of these (over 1,09,000) were handled through direct human interaction. Helpline 139 accounted for over 80,000 calls answered in the last ten days.

Railways also used geo-tagging to be able to route the calls to officials who could answer queries beyond pure railways but with local knowledge.

"Calls made to 138 are geo-tagged. This means that call is routed to divisional commercial control depending on the location of the caller," said sources.

"There are normally three-four landlines which support this. When the caller dials 138, this call lands on any of these phones located with divisional commercial control. The person manning picks it up," a Railway official told BusinessLine .

These geo-tagged calls provided language support and awareness of local, even non-railway issues such as information about hospitals or local state helplines.

"Divisional staff worked from Divisional Commercial Control; 139 call centre agents worked from the call-centre premises in Noida, RailMadad agents worked from home, and monitoring by Railway personnel was done from home," said the official.

Most of the queries were in regard to commencement of train services and the relaxed refund rules. In fact, the refund rules were relaxed on the basis of the feedback from public.

Some of the efforts that were lauded include running of freight trains carrying essential items, waiving penalties for late release of wagons, converting coaches into hospital wards, distribution of food packets, preparing sanitizers and other equipment to fight against Covid-19, among others.

In order to assist railway passengers, other citizens and help resolve issues in freight operations, Indian Railways opened a Railway Control Office after declaration of lockdown.