Missed calls help passengers track delays

 NEW DELHI: Fog continues to wreak havoc on train schedules but there is one group of passengers which has devised a method to figure out delays and cancellations. Using this method which relies, interestingly, on missed calls, the daily passengers association on the Delhi-Palwal and Delhi-Rewari routes has been giving half-hourly updates.

According to passenger B L Sharma, who uses the Delhi-Palwal route, this is how it works: A commuter at the station sends a missed call to another passenger travelling on the train, asking her for an update on the train. If the train is 10 minutes late, the passenger repliles with one missed call. If there is a delay of 20 minutes, there are two missed calls. Three missed calls mean the delay is for over 20 minutes.

If the call is disconnected within five seconds even as the passenger on the platform makes the call, it signals that the train has been cancelled. If it gets a ‘busy mode’ response, the message is that the train is over an hour late. If you receive one missed call and then receive another missed call a few moments later, it is presumed that the train is delayed by over an hour.

Passengers say the station masters in smaller stations too have informally began collecting information through this system. “The beauty of the system is that it is cost-free and benefits both the passengers and railways. It is also the fastest,” said Smita Aggarwal, a daily passenger from Rewari. Station officials acknowledge its usefulness. “We often use this information and check it with our control room to make announcements,” said an officer at the Tilak Bridge station.