Reports about how the Indian Railways’ authorities are helping passengers via Twitter, are very common these days. Be it dirty toilets in the waiting room, or an infant onboard a train who needs medical assistance – all a passenger has to do is tweet to the handle of Ministry of Railways, write about the issue, and wait for a reply. In most cases the reply comes in just five minutes, and the concerned people follow up till required assistance reaches the passenger.
Ever wondered who is behind this quick assistance? It is a team of three people who sit in room number 454 on the fourth floor of the Ministry of Railways building.
It is called the Twitter Control Room and these are the people who work there:
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- Anant Swarup, Executive Director (Public Grievances): A 1992 batch Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS) officer, Anant Swarup is responsible for monitoring the control room.
- Haseen Yadav, Officer on Special Duty (OSD): A mechanical engineer, Haseen Yadav was selected for the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME) in 2003. After this, he did his MBA from IIM and went to Australia to work with consultancy firm McKinsey.
- Ved Prakash, Director (Information and Publicity): He is a 1998 batch Indian Railway Traffic Service officer who has a lot of experience in managing social media accounts. He is the head of the Railways Social Media Cell too.
The team gets active as soon as they receive any tweet with some kind of grievance that needs immediate attention. According to Anant Swarup, they get nearly 5,000 tweets in a day. 30% of these are retweets, while 20-30% are comments. He added that Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu himself oversees the activities of this team and is given a report at the end of each day. Additionally, the minister also discusses the major tweets received during the day, and the kind of action taken on them.
The Ministry of Railways Twitter handle, @RailMinIndia has 7,75,000 followers as of now.
According to a report in Dainik Bhaskar, this team has been trained by private companies as well as the social media wings of Ministry of External Affairs and the PMO. The control room works in three shifts: 6:00am – 2:00 pm, 2:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. Anant Swarup and other railway minister staff members are responsible for being active on their twitter handles during the last shift.