That the Rajdhani Express occupies pride of place among the rides offered by Indian Railways is illustrated by the fact that tickets for this train are always hard to come by, even months in advance. On any given day, the general waiting list for a 2-tier AC seat on the August Kranti-Rajdhani Express running between Mumbai and Delhi is at least 150 names long.
But at 3.58 pm yesterday, with less than two hours to go for the train’s departure, MiD DAY managed to get its hands on one of the coveted Rajdhani tickets, unearthing in the process a flourishing ticket scam operating at Mumbai Central station. What’s more, the tickets were booked for an absentee passenger, with the authorities not so much as asking for an ID to verify that they were issuing a ticket for someone who actually existed. This is how the 10-day-long sting operation culminated.
Two MiD DAY correspondents reached Mumbai Central station. The chart is prepared three hours before departure, and the aim was to try and get tickets after the chart had been prepared.
Agents could be seen making the rounds, on the hunt for desperate clients, muttering ‘Rajdhani-Rajdhani’ under their breath. We approached one of them, a young man in his early 20s, and asked him if we could get confirmed tickets for Rajdhani Express. He nodded in the positive and took us to another agent, an older man in his late 30s, who was stationed at the station’s taxi stand. This agent made more detailed enquiries, and we asked for a 2-tier AC ticket for Delhi. He handed us a reservation form, upon which we informed him that the ticket was for a brother who wanted to board the train from Borivli, and that the ticket had to be booked in his name. We were then escorted to the booking office at the entrance of the station’s main hall. The hall was teeming with railway officials, but the agent strode confidently into the booking office, completely at ease. He approached a booking clerk, while we waited. Minutes later, he was back, brandishing a ticket. Neither the booking clerk nor the railway officials had objected to him jumping the queue.
The agent had booked a confirmed AC 2-tier ticket for the Mumbai-Ratlam leg of the journey, and a waitlisted AC 3-tier ticket for the Ratlam-Delhi stretch. While the ticket came with the marked price of Rs 2,730, we had to cough up Rs 5,000, with the agent explaining that he would have to share the profits with different railway staffers.
It was shocking that the booking clerk had not even asked to see any ID of the passenger for whom the ticket was being booked, in brazen violation of norms set by the Indian Railways that makes identification mandatory for booking a ticket.
Rajdhani and August Kranti-Rajdhani are considered VVIP trains, with their coaches inspected by dog squads before every trip. We even enjoyed half an hour on seat 31 of the A3 coach, took photographs, and left.
— With inputs from Neha LM Tripathi
There is a provision of en route bookings. If an unauthorised person charges extra money to take advantage of the passengers’ ignorance, it is wrong. If tickets are being issued without the proper identity card, we will enquire into the matter and take action against the guilty railway staff under disciplinary rules.
— Sharat Chandrayan, Chief PRO, Western Railway
If we will get any complaints we will immediately take action. We have our helpline and our staff is always around the railway premises; if anybody approaches us and lodges a complaint, we will surely take necessary action.
— Mahim Swamy, Chief Security Commissioner, RPF, Western Railway