They were ready to help out damsels in distress on trains but personnel manning the railways helpline control room at Hajipur are tired of getting complaints about every little problem that passengers face.
“We are fed up with getting unwanted calls everyday. While some make queries about the schedule of trains, others inquire about availability of reserved seats. Some people have also complained about the unavailability of water on trains,” said R.K. Sharma, assistant security commissioner, East Central Railway.
He added: “This defeats the very purpose of the helpline for women.”
The helpline was opened in December last year to provide relief to women in distress on trains. Woman passengers can call up on 9771425718 to complain about harassment by fellow passengers.
But the number of such calls is few and far. “On an average, we get five to 10 calls everyday related to misbehaviour with women passengers,” said Sharma.
“We try to ensure that complaints are addressed within half an hour and inform railway divisions in Danapur, Sonepur, Dhanbad, Samastipur and Mughalsarai as well as the Railway Protection Force.”
He added: “In case of serious crimes, the response time is less than half an hour.”
Sharma also praised the staff in the control room for coming to the rescue of the wife of a legislator who reportedly faced harassment on the Danapur-Howrah Express a few days ago. But the opportunity to help women is infrequent. Of the 1,000 complaints received by the helpline at Hajipur since December 13, 2012, women soliciting assistance registered only 300-350.
Sharma said the helpline had been initially established to check incidents of criminals drugging passengers on trains. But the number of such incidents has gone down over the past few months.
“So we decided to publicise the same helpline number to help women in distress,” he added.
Sharma and his colleagues at Hajipur control room would soon have a helping hand from Government Railway Police who are also all set to start a helpline for passengers soon. Additional director-general (rail) Paras Nath Roy said: “We would soon have a helpline to ensure the security of women and other passengers on trains and on platforms. The GRP has also intensified patrolling, not only during the night but also during the day.”