Press Trust of india

MHA order on passengers’ address came at last moment, rlys used tech to eliminate risks for staff

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New Delhi: With just hours to go for the first special train to depart from the Sabarmati station in Gujarat on May 12, an MHA order asking the Railways to gather passenger details, including destination addresses for contact-tracing, left officials at the Ahmedabad division scrambling for risk-free solutions.

The only option was to get the onboard ticket checking staff to do it, which carried the potential risk of railway personnel contracting the coronavirus.

While the IRCTC was tasked to add a form making it mandatory for passengers to submit their destination addresses while booking their tickets online for the 15 pairs of special trains that began operations on May 12, it did so only from May 13.

But, by then tickets for the journeys till May 19 were already booked as the Railways was allowing passengers to book tickets seven days in advance.

This is when senior Divisional Commercial Manager of Ahmedabad division, Kushagra Mittal, an IIM-Bangalore alumni, sprung into action.

Officials said he came out with an innovative method to collect passenger information without any railway personnel coming in contact with them.

This was just ahead of the Sabarmati to New Delhi special train was to depart on May 12.

To eliminate the possibility of close contact between checking staff and passengers, he created an online form through Google forms portal which was then sent to all the passengers on their mobile phones with instructions that it was to be mandatorily downloaded and filled up.

Announcements were made at the station as well as on train for passengers to fill up the form.

¨He used technology that was already available to get the information we needed and it ended up being a great help for us. Our TTEs did not have to come in contact with the passengers who are travelling to get the details, they are also vulnerable. It is time consuming also, not to say risky.

¨Some of the other zones have asked me to share the details and some of them have taken advantage of it,” Ahmedabad Divisional Railway Manager Deepak Kumar Jha told PTI.

Passengers filled up the forms and a few who did not, they were taken down by the on board staff, thereby reducing contact significantly, officials said.

These forms were then aligned with the passenger charts and a comprehensive record was created for each passenger on the train, they said.

The IRCTC has started taking the destination address of all passengers who are booking tickets for special trains with effect from May 13 (Wednesday).

The Railways has said that this information is being taken for contact-tracing, if needed.

The ‘Destination Address’ column will be a new provision in the form that passengers fill while booking the tickets.

The addition of the new ‘Destination Address’ column in the IRCTC ticket booking form will remain permanently, officials have said.

The Railways resumed its passenger services after a gap of almost 50 days with 15 pairs of special trains for major destinations from May 12 across the country.

All the 15 pairs of special trains connected Delhi to other cities across the country.

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