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To address train passengers’ queries Indian Railways adds chatbots



Indian Railway, Indian Railways, Chatbots, Rail sector, Train-related queries, Live train running status, Artificial Intelligence, Microsoft, Oracle, Software giants, Business news

New Delhi: Indian Railways is exploring the use automated chatbots, a first for the rail sector, so as to respond faster to train-related queries and enhance customer experience.



The possibility of use of chatbots were showcased at a recent railway conference on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a high-level committee is being constituted to take it forward-in close coordination with one of the software giants — Microsoft or Oracle.

Chatbot, short for chatterbot, is a computer programme that simulates human conversation through voice commands or text chats, or both, using AI.



According to the action plan being actively considered by the national transporter, the chatbots would address queries on schedules, ticket availability, trains for particular destinations and other such rail travel-related issues.


Indian Railway explores chatbots to address train passengers’ queries:


Currently the system relies on manual or SMS/IVRS technology for addressing passengers queries.

The existing customer service over phone needs one to pick up the phone, dial the number and, finally, the response is some pre-fed text which is read by the customer representative from screen.



“Now there is a plan to use the advancement of AI technology for customer service, as the idea is ubiquitous,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

“The application can be deployed on a smartphone or laptop and can be used through voice chat or text chat,” he added.



Chatbots cannot be human, but they can think and respond to queries like humans do — and devoid of human bias. Their use is emerging as the next big platform for information exchange for today’s smartphone-carrying generation.



Walmart chief seeks stable business environment from PM Modi




New Delhi: Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking certainty and predictability in India’s business environment, people familiar with the matter said.

McMillon also highlighted Walmart’s commitment to India, including investments to empower small and medium enterprises, global sourcing from the country and job creation. He also praised Modi for India’s improvement in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking.

PM Modi and the Walmart Chief Executive met on September 25 during the former’s visit to the US.

The letter comes at a time when a body of small traders, which has been accusing Flipkart and Amazon of “unfair business practices” and violation of FDI rules, has stepped up its opposition against the foreign-owned marketplaces, blaming predatory pricing by the two companies for a slump in the businesses of traditional retail during the ongoing Diwali season.

On Monday, the Confederation of All India Traders claimed that Amazon and Flipkart together generated total business worth Rs 19,000 crore in their four-day mega sales events earlier this month.

Last week, commerce minister Piyush Goyal said the government was probing Flipkart and Amazon for any predatory pricing.

Last year, Walmart India said it would invest about $500 million to open another 47 stores by 2022. Walmart India’s business is membership-based and counts more than one million members, the majority of whom are small resellers and kiranas (mom-and-pop stores). The retailer already sources a bulk of items from smallholder farmers and regional suppliers. It’s been in India since 2009.

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