Railways chug on 139, call centre a huge hit

Written by Prachi Karnik Pradhan | Mumbai, Jul 28 | Updated: Jul 30 2008, 05:24am hrs
The move by Indian Railways to outsource the integrated train enquiry services to a BPO for all calls related to its rail services has proved to be a major success in the very first year since its launch. The 139 Indian Railways tele-helpline, which has been outsourced to Bharat BPO (part of Omnia BPO Services Ltd), has already earned the company revenues of over Rs 1 crore since its launch on July 17 last year.

Bharat BPO CEO Pravin Kumar told FE that the Rail Sampark project was initiated as a part of the rail reforms advocated by railway minister Lalu Prasad. The service was aimed at bringing high quality information services within the reach of rail passengers across the nation.

Kumar said that the call centre executing the Rail Sampark project receives around 5 lakh calls every day from all over the country to enquire about various rail related services. The call centre handles enquiries pertaining to arrival and departure timings of trains, schedules of trains plying between two stations, PNR and reservation of berth status, fare enquiry, availability of Tatkal reservations, concessions, ticket cancellation and refund rules, among other things, informed Kumar.

Kumar said that at present the company operates from four centres in the metros and proposes to set up regional call centres for the railways at places like Noida, Ahmedabad and Mysore. Kumar said that the call centre received around 25-40% of the revenue earned by the telecom service provider on each incoming call. Our revenue is based on per-call-per-connect-minute, said Kumar.

Kumar says that initially, the rail enquiry services were offered only to subscribers of state-owned MTNL and BSNL. Later on, the services were extended to all telecom subscribers, including those of Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance, BPL and Tata Indicom.

Meanwhile, Nalin Singhal, managing director, Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd said that the service would bring about a revolution in Indian Railways.