Want to take a train out of town this festive season? Get ready to travel on a transferred ticket despite paying an exorbitant amount, as agents are making a killing with demand at an all-time high
Everyone prays for wealth during Diwali, but it's the railway touts who are filling their wallets this week. These agents are charging astronomical sums as commission to get people seats in trains during the festive rush. The rate of confirming a ticket in sleeper class has gone as high as Rs 800 with home delivery facility for Diwali.
What a rush! Passengers at New Delhi Railway Station after the arrival
of a train.
Lakhs of Delhiites and especially students from out of town are trying to head back to their hometowns to celebrate Diwali with their families. Naturally, the demand for rail tickets is at an all-time high. Railways has also started some festival special trains. But still with demand far exceeding supply, people are ready to shell out big bucks to get confirmed seats in the short span available.
The scene at a railway ticket counter. file Pics
"To get a holiday during Diwali is mammoth task as everyone wants to go home. Somehow I managed to get two days of leave but there is no train ticket at all for Mumbai. I was shocked when a tout asked for Rs 800 extra on the ticket to get me a confirmed seat in sleeper class. For AC coaches the rate is much higher. Normally they charge Rs 200-250, but Rs 800 is too much. I don't have any option but to pay the agent," said Alok Singh, who works in an MNC in Noida.
Similar was the experience of Hemant Mehta who wanted a ticket to Allahabad. "There are no seats available. And there are endless queues outside ticket counters from 6 in the morning to get tatkal tickets. Agents are openly flouting rules as they are charging abnormally high amounts and giving tickets in someone else's name," said the resident of IP Extension, who has decided to give up.
This MiD DAY reporter posed as a customer and called various agents whose numbers are available online. An agent who took our call said, "Ticket nahi hai. Paisa hai toh bolo confirm mil jaayega (Don't have tickets right now. But if you have money, you can get confirmed reservation)."
What's in a name?
One of the agents who identified himself as Rajender said, "I have an extra ticket. But it is with a family. So you have to sit with them. If you are comfortable then I will get that ticket for Rs 600 extra." Another agent who operates from Paharganj claimed that he has a ticket for Lucknow but he had certain terms and conditions. "If you are ready to travel under a different name then I can help you. I have got one ticket and the person's age is 29. So if you can act like someone who is 29 then take it," he said.
Northern Railway said it will also open maximum counters during the period up to November 15 by posting extra staff. For this it has cancelled all leaves of reservation, booking and commercial staff. At the New Delhi reservation centre, around 10 to 11 extra counters have been opened to manage the rush, especially high during the first half hour daily from 8 to 8-30 a.m. for tatkal bookings. Commercial officers and supervisors have also been deployed at major locations where public related services are provided. They have been monitoring queues with the assistance of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel in the Delhi area.