Page last updated at 14:15 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 15:15 UK

UK rail inquiries moving to India

Indian call centre
ATOC says the move will lead to "significant savings"

All calls to National Rail Enquiries will be handled by Indian call centres from next March, the BBC has learnt.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), which runs the service, said it had agreed an exclusive contract with an Indian firm.

ATOC insisted that the change would not reduce the quality of the service.

The news came as an outsourcing firm said it was cutting more than 100 jobs at a rail inquiries centre in Yorkshire because of the India move.

Outsourcing firm Ventura said it was in consultations with staff at the facility in Wath-upon-Dearne.

Reduced usage

The number of calls to the service has fallen in recent years as a growing number of passengers use the internet, or the automated Train Tracker phone system, to access train times.

"Call centre operations now represent only some 7% of rail inquiries and this proportion continues to fall, with the internet rapidly growing in importance for passengers looking for journey information," said ATOC.

"In the last financial year, the amount of calls handled fell by 24.5%."

ATOC said its internal monitoring showed that levels of customer satisfaction were the same for call centres in the UK and India.

It added that: "We can achieve significant savings by moving to one supplier and it makes sense to do so."

Rail consumer watchdog Passenger Focus said it would monitor the effect of the call centre move on rail users.

"Passengers care that telephone and other information services are correct, useful and remain free or low cost," said Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith.

"Where they are based is not so relevant."

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16 Jul 09 |  South Yorkshire

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