BENGALURU: Indian Railways’ clever marketing strategy to promote itself at the cost of the bad publicity IndiGo Airlines received, has now boomeranged on it! The move by the airlines to charge for reserving specific seats on its flights while opting for a web check-in, was cheekily capitalised on by the Railways social media team to promote the virtues of train travel. This jibe from Railways evoked much amusement and surprise initially from twitterati, but passengers later started lashing out at it.
“Why pay a premium for web check-ins on flight.when you can just take a train?” posted @RailMin India, the twitter handle of the Ministry of Railways, on November 26. Listing out the advantages of rail travel, the tweet highlighted these: ‘No web-checkin needed’ and ‘Pre-allocated seats’.
Within two days, it received 2,210 retweets and 6,771 likes, apart from 761 comments.
The delayed running of trains came in for much criticism. Brijesh Tripathi, a software professional based in Greater Noida, responded thus: “Please improve punctuality before you appeal to people to opt trains as their preferred mode of transportation. Suppose if we have meeting at 07 PM in a particular city and we take train which reaches 06 AM in the morning, there are no guarantee that we will be able to attend it.”
Adarsh M, a travel enthusiast, tweeted: “Kudos for the tweet at the same time if cleanliness and punctuality can be maintained surely railways can be highly preferred.” The pathetic condition of toilets was the pet peeve. “There is no water, attendant sleeping, toilet stinking and human excrement floating - that’s how railways 2nd AC is this morning in train no 16566,” writes Satish Nair.
Subrata Panda, who describes himself on his profile as a foodie, remarks: “Well, it’s a witty tweet. But do take some time out from tweeting and check on the quality of the trains. I am paying Rs 3500 for a trip from kolkata to Mumbai in duronto and the toilet is just shitty. The food is shittier.”
The conversations continued endlessly, with some passengers also rushing to the defence of the Railways by stressing that cleanliness depends on the people using it and not Railways. @ProudIndian chips in to say, “Most of trains r clean when come out from yard and start journey.5 to 6 hours passes and ppl turn it into garbage.”
Asked about it, a member of the full-time social media team of Railways in New Delhi, which had set off the tweet storm, said, “It is generating enormous response. For the last one year, we have been marketing rail travel. Earlier, in another campaign we used pictures and lines from Bollywood movies to goad people to use trains.”