How much can you do in a minute? You can probably read a whole page, if you’re a fast reader, or run a kilometre, if you’re Usain Bolt. But, you might still not be fast enough to get tickets on a Central Railway (CR) train.
Central Railway officials claim that around 800 seats got booked from various booking counters and the online portal by 8.01 am. File pic
CR records show that on June 28 i.e. Saturday, tickets for the Mumbai-Madgaon Konkan Kanya Express were snapped up within a minute. That’s 800 tickets in 60 seconds.
Clocking an amazing 13 tickets per second, all berths on the August 28 train were booked within a minute. The mad rush is for the Ganesh festival, which begins on the same day. However, rail authorities also suspect that illegal agents may have made mass bookings.
Railway authorities have not ruled out illegal bookings on the Mumbai-Madgaon Konkan Kanya Express and will set up a probe committee into the incident soon. File pic
Minute to win it
According to official CR figures, most of the berths for the train in all compartments of this 18-coach train got booked in a minute. This includes first AC, two-tier AC, three-tier AC and sleeper seats. The train has around 1,400 berths, including the general compartment.
CR officials claim that almost 800 seats got booked from various booking counters and the online portal by 8.01 am. “These reservations were done from various passenger reservation centres (PRCs) across the country and through online booking,” said Narendra Patil, chief PRO, Central Railway (CR).
There are 3,200 PRCs across India, each of them with at least two or more windows. Apart from this, many people also use the IRCTC website infamous for its slow speed. However, this day seems to have been an aberration, when people were able to buy tickets very quickly there as well. With millions of hits every day, IRCTC is one of the busiest online portals in the country.
Officials claim it is quite possible that with so many windows where the system works faster and with multiple online portal centres, seats can be exhausted within a minute. But, even all the Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC) tickets and many waitlisted ones were sold by 8.05 am, earning the railways a handsome Rs 8 lakh.
While terming it a regular feature during festive season, officials are not ruling out illegal agents behind the flash booking. “There may have been mass bookings by illegal agents,” claimed a senior official. According to railway authorities, nearly 50 per cent of train bookings happened via IRCTC.
Asked about the sudden surge, an official from Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), said, “We only handle the back-end database and hardware that stores all the data for IRCTC.
The front-end software and servers meant for bookings have been created by someone else. We have no control over them. If there are issues, the Railways needs to bring it to our notice first.” The incident has created a furore in political circles. Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Vinod Tawade, claims people have complained to him about unauthorised bookings.
“There are bookings done at 7.54 am and 7.56 am with confirmed tickets, which is well before 8 am, when reservations open. I will meet Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda and ask for an inquiry,” he said. Sources said the the Railway Board is likely to appoint a committee to investigate the matter.
Where they went
First AC (6 seats): Booked by 8.01 am, all of them through the website
Two-tier AC (18 seats): Reservation was full by 8.01 am and was done at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Navsari, Bhilad, Tirupati, Kudal, Byculla. RAC and waitlist started soon after
Third AC: Reservation was full by 8.01 am and was done at Vapi, Bhakti Nagar, IRCTC, CST, Mumbai Central, Sasaram, Bhayander, Aurangabad, Byculla, Dahod, Mahim, Talegaon, Borivli, Nashik. RAC was full by 8.05 am and the waitlist had started
Sleeper: Reservation was full by 8.01am and was done at Nashik, IRCTC, CST, Boisar, Mumbai Central, Navy Nagar, Mal-ad, Kandivli, Lonavla, Deo-lali, Bhayander. RAC was full by 8.05 am and the waitlist started soon after
1400: Approximate capacity of the Konkan Kanya Express