I heard quite a lot about Indian Railways reforms, how they became more customer centric and blah blah, but unfortunately I had a horrible experience yesterday.
We booked couple of tickets to Bhubaneshwar(BBSNR) in Faluknuma express from secunderabd thru IRCTC and return tickets in the same train from a railway reservation counter. We boarded the train in Secunderabad and came to know that the train was diverted in other route and wont go to Bhubneshwar.The train was diverted in some other route as the track in orissa was damaged 1.5 months ago, but IRCTC and Railways are still selling the tickets in old route. Countless others have experienced the same problem from last 1.5 months, but authorities are lethargic neither they made any attempts to inform passengers about the change in route nor made any alternative arrangements
The whole episode, have some comical errors -
IRCTC issued a ticket from Sec'bad to Bhubaneshwar, when the train is not going in the route from 1.5 months. I can understand acts of god and the IRCTC did not make changes for a week or so, but for god sake 1.5 months is damn long time, why cant they update it??or at least when they know the train is not running in that route, shoot a mail to all users who bought tickets in the train. Do they have any CRM system in place?? Its not just you refund my fair within 90 days, who will pay for the damages??
Ok, Understood IRCTC dont have info on trains diverted in some other routes, but how the hell a Railway reservation counter issue a ticket on a train which is not running from sec'bad to BBSNR. At least they should have informed the train is subject to availability and may run in some other route.
And more idiotically,Our names and berth numbers are printed and pasted in respective boggies, with seat numbers
And Our PNR status still shows our tickets are confirmed both up and down, even though the train is not running between the 2 stations
We got a gem of advice from railway authorities- Cancel the e-ticket, you will get 100% refund and buy a ticket in Vishaka Express. It was supposed to leave in 1 hr, so we need to buy a general ticket and travel 20 hrs in it, for your mistake
We called Railway Call Center to find out whether the train is coming via Bhubneshwar to Secunderabd or going in a route of there choice but the jokers dont have information on the status. The call center guys suggested to call secunderabad railway station to find out the info, but he dont have number of sec'bad station, I am not asking you phone number of a remote railway station, If a Call center dont have phone number of a zonal head quarters , who will have it?? south central railways website is down, the contact us link in official website of Ministry of Railways takes you to a park domain full of advertisements!! (go to site map n then click contact us, its not working in home page)
Railway officials came up with other innovative idea recently - add one more berth in side seats and squeeze more money. The mere sight of a side berth make me fear of a torturous journey.How the hell can 9 passengers sit in a row meant for 8? where will the extra passenger put his luggage? How can poor guys in side berths sleep in such a little place.
A railway official supported this decision saying “By adding so many passengers, the railways is doing a service. And I am sure that the inconvenience of sharing a seat with an extra passenger is better than being denied a ticket,” . Crap first you are not doing a free service. Second this is not the way to meet extra demand. Because of your inefficiencies you cant make people suffer, especially when common man dont have other choice of transport
And Dear Lalu, I know you are too busy with your guest lectures at IIM's, but don't take customers for granted. It may not reflect in your railway financial statements, but will for sure reflect in general elections.
Update: Common sense prevails, Indian Railway board decided to remove the side middle berth recently.