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Ticket to ride, train of questions

It is no secret that just about anything can be bought in our country. Even so, it seems a little shocking, that while people are known to queue for hours, and that too months in advance, for outstation train tickets, a well-established parallel system exists that can generate genuine, confirmed tickets just hours before the train departs. For an extra cost, of course. Not only that, the ticket is issued for someone who need not even be present, though regulations specify that a ticket can only be given against original identification.

In the light of heightened security concerns, it is all the more astonishing that the black-marketing of tickets goes on under the noses, if not with the collusion, of the authorities. On one hand sniffer dogs check outstation trains. On the other, any anonymous person can buy a ticket — or six — for a couple of thousand rupees more.

The railway authorities have typically responded with a bland, “If there is a complaint, we will investigate.” But it is plain that the whole parallel system is being conducted in the full view of anyone who cares to look. So why wait for a complaint? This parallel system should not be allowed to exist in the first place. Moreover, when the parties are all getting what they need and want — the customer, a last-minute ticket; the agent, his cut; the booking clerk, apparently some sort of benefit — who will complain and why?

If the railways are serious about maintaining a system that is safe and fair to all, they need to take suo moto cognisance of the MiD DAY report and take the necessary action. We cannot possibly think of talking about India’s glory when such scams are rife, weakening the system’s very veins with corruption.
 

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