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The on board ticket-checking staff of the Indian Railways, who are the passengers' first point of contact in case of emergencies, can now bring the entire rail network to their aid at the click of a button.
The Railways has extended the closed user group (CUG) system to the ticket-checking staff so that they can communicate with any official of the transport behemoth in case of any problem on board a train without burning a hole in their pocket, according to a Railway Board letter.
In the letter issued last week, the Board said that a ticket-checking staff is the "frontline staff" and the first to be contacted in by passengers in case of any problem and unforeseen situations like accidents, thefts, or fires.
Other than their core activity of ticket checking, they are also required to provide first-aid, be vigilant of child trafficking, deal with security-related issues while the train is in motion, check out for inflammable, illegal objects on board a train and to remove them at the next stoppage, and also keep checks on the catering staff.
"The matter has been examined and it is felt that keeping in view the diverse duties assigned to on board ticket- checking staff, the provision of CUG facility to them is an absolute necessity," the letter read.
The staff will now be provided with CUG-enabled SIM cards, which will allow them to call officials of the rail network depending on the issues that they are facing on board.
A ceiling of Rs 300 a month has been kept for the ticket-checking staff and charges beyond that will have to be borne by the user.
The CUG scheme was started in 2002 in an attempt to provide better communication facility to officials at various operational levels in the field. Since then, the scheme has been extended to include more railway staff members who are in direct contact with passengers.