With summer holidays approaching, booking tickets for holidays and trips becomes increasingly difficult. Touts, agents and brokers are known to pre-book a lot of tickets for sought-after destinations like Shimla, Kashmir, Delhi, Rajasthan and Punjab. The resultant chaos makes it difficult to get tickets even in the first week of June. In desperation, citizens buy tickets by paying extra amount to the agents.
“Even the e-ticketing system has not solved the problem,” said Harsha Shah, President, Railway Pravasi Group. “There are over 3,000 agents, touts and brokers in the city who are illegally blocking tickets. The facility to book tickets 120 days in advance has made it easier for them to book tickets in bulk. Group bookings, marriage bookings and bookings for religious reasons have also added to problems. Railway should stop all the ‘quota’ system and make the ticket booking transparent.”
An agitated Salim Hundekari from Solapur said, “Railway booking staff know who the agents and brokers are but do nothing. They even hog the Tatkal tickets. Neither the police nor the railway police take any firm action against them. The railway staff is hand-in-glove with these touts.”
Echoing the sentiments, Somnath Taje and Subhash Vishwas from Latur also pointed out issues in the booking system. “Black-marketing of railway tickets is rampant at Chinchwad Railway Station as well. The agent charges anything from Rs 100 to Rs 2,000 over and above the cost of the ticket and earn easy bucks,” Taje said. “This is specially tough on senior citizens who have no choice but to get tickets on rates dictated by these agents. I have to book a Latur ticket at least a month in advance to save myself from the agent-net.”
When informed about the issue at hand, Y K Singh, Public Relation Officer (PRO), Pune Railway, refuted the charges. “We have a fool-proof system of e-ticketing to make the booking much easier and user-friendly. We are fully aware about interventions by touts, agents and brokers in the booking of railway tickets. In the recent past, legal action has been taken against 50 such agents and fines have been recovered. Some have also been sentenced to jail by the court. The railway vigilance squad and government railway police (GPR) are doing their work. However, it is not enough. We need help from other government agencies like ACB and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to curb the menace.”
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