Rly’s biometric system to keep touts at bay

Ahmedabad Railway Division, with an aim to ensure that passengers face no problems due to misuse of railway tickets by touts, has decided to introduce a biometric system at its Passenger Reservation System (PRS). This will prevent touts from cornering tickets for long-distance trains, said sources. “Ticket buyers will be required to give their left thumb impression at the time of booking the ticket. Once the person’s identity is registered in the system, he/she will not be allowed to book ticket from the PRS more than twice in day,” said railway official. When a ticket buyer’s record is established, he won’t be able to buy tickets again and again. In other words, the unacceptable practice of touts is likely to be eliminated, said sources.

“Currently these touts stay on railway stations for days together, book most of the tickets as soon as the counters open and later sell these to their own ‘clients’,” said sources. This hampers the interests of average, genuine passengers. Till now, a token system was in place, which was misused as there was no record of ticket buyers, said sources. This method is being implemented in Ahmedabad city, first. Thereafter it might be extended to other stations under this division. It is already in place at a few railway stations in Mumbai and Indore. The modalities are already being worked out and method is likely to be in place within next 3 -4 months. An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 tickets are reserved from Ahmedabad station and around 10,000 persons travel from here on a daily basis, said sources. Commenting on this, DRM (Ahmedabad Division) A K Tiwari said , “We have also asked the booking clerks and the RPF (Railway Police Force) to check the identity card of the persons who come to book tickets at the PRS centre. If this method goes on well here, we are going to extend it to other centres within Ahmedabad division.”


New ‘tatkal’ regulations to tighten noose around touts

Those buying railway tickets under the tatkal scheme for their family members, relatives or friends from computerised reservation centres will now have to produce original identity proof. The Pune railway division has announced that this new rule shall come into effect from May 6.

This arrangement has been made apparently to keep touts and illegal agents at bay and ensure that only genuine commuters get reserved tickets under the Tatkal scheme.

“If any person who buys reserved ticket under tatkal scheme for anyone who would be travelling, then the former would have to produce original proof of his identity. Moreover, he will also have to hand over the xerox copies of his own ID proof and that of the passenger along with the filled up requisition form to the booking clerk at the counter,” said a railway official.

The officials claim that the Pune railway division is doing its best to tackle the problem of touts and illegal agents, who reserve tickets on bogus names and then sell them off a premium to commuters who do not get reservations.

“Since this is the peak season, there is tremendous rush for reservation in virtually all long distance trains originating from Pune. This new measure announced by Pune division would make things tough for the touts,” said a railway official.

The 10 identity proofs that would be accepted by the Pune railway division include voter photo identity card issued by the Election Commission of India, passport, PAN card, driving licence, photo identity card with serial number issued by Central/State Government, student identity card with a photograph issued by a recognised school/college for their students, nationalised bank passbook with a photograph, credit cards issued by banks with laminated photograph, ‘Aadhaar’ card and photo identity cards with serial number issued by public sector undertaking of State/Central Government, district administration, municipal bodies and panchayat administration.


Immune to toothless law, touts derail surveillance

Despite repeated drives against touts who illegally sell rail tickets at a premium, the offenders, exploiting loopholes in the law, get away with mere payment of a fine even after being caught as many as six times, officials admit.

“Under the Railways Act, for touting one can only be fined Rs. 5,000 or be imprisoned for a maximum of six months or both,” an official said.

Exercise blunted

Senior officials insist that though checking has been intensified by the Anti-Fraud Squad at booking centres and reservation counters, on platforms and inside trains, and raids have been conducted across areas under Northern Railway, their helplessness in keeping touts behind bars for long periods has blunted the exercise.

After about 120 preventive checks this month, 74 persons were apprehended and handed over to the Railway Police Force for prosecution, a senior official said: “Northern Railway also organised raids on the premises of authorised and unauthorised ticketing agencies in order to prevent blocking of reservation under fictitious names and subsequent sale of transferred tickets.”

During these checks, 52 touts, seven unauthorised JTBSs [Jansadharan Ticket Booking Sewak] were prosecuted under Sections 143/144 of the Railway Act and two passengers were found travelling on transferred tickets.

But, in the end, nothing substantive came out of this as the touts were back at their business once they came out on bail after paying the fine, the official said.

‘Tighter provisions’

“We need tighter provisions and punishment for frequent defaulters. I think the law should be made stricter for the touts who have started taking it for granted,” said another senior railway official.


Buy Tatkal tickets in person now

If you want to book Tatkal railway tickets from the city go in person to the ticket booking counter with your identity card as the Bangalore Division has stopped issuing Tatkal tickets intermediaries in most of the ticket booking counters to keep touts at bay.

Tatkal tickets would be issued to intermediaries after due verification in only one designated counters in some important ticket booking centres in the city.

Senior Divisional Commercial Manager N Ramesh said, “As the touts were fleecing money from people by standing in queues much before those who want the Tatkal tickets could even come to the booking counters, we had to stop issuing tickets to intermediaries in all the booking counters. In accordance with the instructions of our Divisional Railway Manager A K Aggarwal, we have set aside one counter in some of the important ticket booking centres for those who book tickets through intermediaries.”

Ramesh said Tatkal tickets, issued one day in advance, were issued to anyone if they had a request letter and an identity card of the applicant.

As the railways start issuing Tatkal tickets for the trains that run the following day at 10 am everyday, the touts used to stand in queues very early in the morning and book many tickets by using fake identity cards for the travel agencies that charge exorbitantly for booking tickets. Therefore, the deserving ticket seekers were at the mercy of these touts. The railway officials had failed to check the touts, he added.

The Tatkal counters which issue tickets only to those who come in person with valid identity cards are called Self Tatkal Ticketing Window Systems.

However, the intermediaries can book tickets at only one specified counter at City Railway Station, Cantonment, Yeshwantpur, Jayanagar, Koramangala, K R Puram and Vijaynagar.

There will be 21 counters for those who book tickets directly.


Published in: on March 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Tatkal booking process streamlined

Railway officials say the organization has taken several measures to prevent touts cornering berths at passenger reservation system (PRS) centres. They also say that improvements have been made to the website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).

“Under a new system, tatkal tickets will be sold between 10am and noon,” said a railway officer. “No authorized agents, including those of the IRCTC, will be allowed to book tatkal tickets in this period the counter or online.”

He said booking periods have been segregated to ensure that reservation queues for the opening date (120 days before the date of journey) do not clash with tatkal dates. “On the IRCT website, individual users are now permitted to book only two tickets from 10am to noon. Also, only two tickets can be booked from a particular IP address in this period.”

A few days ago, Western Railway introduced the concept of self tatkal ticket counters, where a person can book tatkal tickets only for himself or if he is part of a travelling party. WR has also made photo identity cards compulsory at PRS centres for those who seek to make bookings under the tatkal scheme. “If someone is not travelling himself, but booking tickets on somebody else’s behalf, he would have to bring a self-attested photocopy of the ID of the person for whom the booking would be done,” a railway official said.

The railways is also planning to introduce biometric technology in three months in the Mumbai division, again to bar touts. To cater to demand during summer holidays, Central Railway has decided to regulate post-midnight queues outside all PRS centres.

Tatkal form goes pink

Northern Railway has introduced a dedicated reservation forms for tatkal. Different from the normal white reservation forms, this pink form is bigger and has extra columns and space for information.

The form will soon be available at booking counters. To check the menace of touts buying tatkal tickets, the form has a column for “warnings”.

In case of purchase of tickets from a tout or unauthorised travel agent on fictitious names, addresses or contact number, the passenger is liable to pay penalty and/or imprisonment as per the provision of Railway Act 1989, says the warning published in bold on the form.

According to railway officials, if address/phone/mobile of the passenger is found to be false during journey, he or she will be deboarded at the next station.

“A separate reservation form for tatkal is important because it is a special service offered by the railways with different set of document requirements,” said an official.

To check menace of touts, the form has a column for “warnings”