'Allow only passengers to avail tickets, not agents'
MP Vinayak Raut wants 120-day window for advance booking to be reduced to 30 or 60 days ahead of Ganeshotsav
With four days left before the 120-day period of advance rail ticket reservation for the state's popular Ganapati festival starts, a Member of Parliament has supported the request of a Kalwa-based passenger, asking railway minister Piyush Goyal to restrict the period from 30 to 60 days so that only genuine passengers can avail the tickets and not agents.
"As you are aware, the Ganapati festival is the largest and most important festival for Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. People will start travelling to their native places in Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa and Karwar from Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Gujarat, Delhi, etc. for this festival from August 18/19. The railway bookings for this period will start from April 17. Given the COVID-19 crisis, I appeal to the railway minister to limit the Advance Reservation Period (ARP) to 30 days so that it is not misused," Member of Parliament from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency, Vinayak Raut said, quoting the passenger.
Raut added that he was forwarding the letter written by Akshay Mahapadi, who had approached him, to Goyal. Speaking to mid-day, Mahapadi who is a software engineer and an RTI activist, said, "The Advance Reservation Period (ARP) should be reduced for the trains passing through Konkan Railway (KRCL) to 60 days for this festival period. Social distancing may not be followed at the Passenger Reservation System (PRS) counters if they open. Agents may misuse this as an opportunity to book all the seats for the black market." While Mahapadi said that the ARP should be reduced to 60 days, Raut stressed that it may be brought down to 30 days to avoid misuse.
Explaining the process, railway officials said ARP is uniformly applicable to all trains and cannot be separately done for a particular destination. "We can suspend the booking of specific trains towards the KRCL but again passengers willing to book tickets 120 days in advance may be deprived of advanced reservation and may complain. As per data available, about 70 per cent of total bookings are done online," said a railway official.
'Not advisable to reduce ARP'
"The Ganesh festival will start from August 22. So the rush will start from August 19 for which the booking will start from April 21. Special trains are also planned just before the start of the festival and hence, it is therefore not advisable to reduce the ARP to one month," he said.
"The Railway Board might have to approve the suspension of such booking short of one month, considering that KRCL trains are also run from WR, North Western Rly, NR etc. The trains and their booking schedules are also in other databases, he added.
An IRCTC spokesperson said that the Railways will take a final decision on this issue. Central Railway Chief Public Relations officer, Shivaji Sutar said, "We will highlight this particular issue at the appropriate level."
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