Muniyappa Convenes a Review Meeting of Senior Railway Officials to Further Streamline Tatkal Scheme
The Minister of State for Railways, Shri K. H. Muniyappa said that with the recent steep hike in the fares of the airlines, the demand and supply gap for Railway tickets have substantially increased which Railways is trying its best to reduce through various measures. Shri Muniyappa said this during his meeting of senior officers of Railways Board here today to review the progress of the steps taken to combat some cases of black marketing and purchase of railway tickets by touts. Member Traffic, Railway Board, Managing Director, IRCTC, Additional Member (Commercial) and other senior officers of Railway Board were present at the meeting.
Shri Muniyappa said that that the Indian Railways have been regularly monitoring the activities of the agents, touts and other individuals carrying out such activities and strict action has been initiated. The Minister said that every day on an average of around 15 lakh Railway tickets are being sold through 8838 passenger reservation ticket counters and the e-ticketing website through IRCTC, out of which the Tatkal tickets constitutes around 1.70 lakh.
Shri Muniyappa said that the Railways had introduced the Tatkal scheme to facilitate the bonafide passengers to travel by train at short notice. However, there are some reports of this facility being misused by some persons for pecuniary and personal gains, thereby defeating the very purpose of the scheme.
The Minister further said that some of the major problems being faced by the Railways are large scale sale of tickets within a short period in the counters, deployment of proxies to procure tickets at counters etc. To prevent misuse of the facility, Railways have taken steps like debarring the agents to book tickets during the first two hours, installation of CCTVs in all major booking centres to monitor the movement of touts, non issuance of duplicate in lieu of the lost Tatkal tickets and non-refund on cancellation of unused Tatkal tickets. The requirement of indicating Mobile number of the passenger in the application form is also being insisted to cross verify the genuineness of the passenger. Besides these measures, attaching the photo copy of identity proof of passenger has been made mandatory for booking of Tatkal tickets and carrying of ID card have also been made compulsory for all passengers of AC classes.
In addition, it has further been decided to change the time of booking of Tatkal tickets at the counters from existing 8.00 A.M. to 10.00 A.M. with effect from 10th July, 2012 to avoid congestion in the morning hours at counters for the normal advance booking passengers. The restriction on the agents for Tatkal tickets booking during the first two hours shall also continue. The Minister said that these steps have started yielding results.
The Minister also said that surprise inspections and preventive checks are being conducted regularly at reservation centres to contain the activities of the unauthorized agents and touts. These checks are intensified during peak/rush period and festival seasons. The department has carried out around 82,000; 61,000; and 65,000 surprise checks during 2009-10 to 2011-12, said the Minister. Against these surprise checks, around 4200 touts were apprehended and an amount of around Rs. 63,68,000/- were realized as fine and around 2000 persons were convicted. The connivance of around 170 Railway officers were also found during the above surprise checks against whom departmental actions were initiated which resulted in imposing of various penalties upon 102 officials including major penalties like removal, reversion from service etc.
The Minister said that IRCTC, a public sector undertaking of the Ministry of Railways which handles ticketing website, has also taken several steps to prevent touts and unauthorized agents from their illegal activities. Several technological innovations like increase in the bandwidth of internet, augmenting E-Ticketing software licences, technical evaluation of mobile based technology etc. are regularly being undertaken to cope up the demand and minimize the misuse of the system by unscrupulous people, added the Minister.
The Minister informed that the Ministry of Railways has also initiated steps to augment e-ticket handling capacity of its website through short term and long term measures. Due to these steps, the present capacity will increase from existing about 3.5 lakh bookings to around 5 lakh bookings per day in about four months period in the short term which will further be increased to about 8 lakh bookings per day in the long term plan. He informed that both IRCTC and CRIS are working jointly in this direction.
Shri Muniyappa said that wide publicity is being given at regular basis both through the print and electronic media appealing the general public to purchase ticket only from authorized sources so as to prevent prosecution and penalty. He appealed to the general public to co-operate with the Railways to make the system work successfully.