The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) along with the railway’s vigilance department conducted a surprise check on the Mumbai-bound August Kranti Rajdhani Express on Saturday following information that some train ticket examiners (TTEs) were allowing unauthorised passengers to travel from Vapi and Surat.
A CBI statement said three TTEs were found to be involved in this racket.
These include Naresh Chawla, train superintendent in the first and second air-conditioned (AC) coaches, Ajit Sinha, TTE, in the B-1 to B-4 coaches and Raj Prakash Singh, TTE, working in the B-5 to B-8 coaches.
Senior western railway authorities suspended them with immediate effect.
The Central Bureau of Investigation and railway vigilance team also found 12 passengers, mostly businessmen, travelling without a ticket from Vapi and Surat to Mumbai Central in the first, second and third class AC compartments.
The railway vigilance collected a penalty of Rs 19,510 from these passengers.
The CBI said as per the rules, reservations are not issued from Vapi and Surat to Mumbai Central because of the short distance.
However, many passengers were boarding the train without tickets.
“We got information that they had an arrangement with some TTEs who took bribes and allowed them to travel from Vapi and Surat,” a senior CBI officer said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media on the issue.
The modus operandi, the officer said, was that the moment the unauthorised passengers boarded the train, the TTEs would fine them for travelling without a ticket and collect the full fare from them. “On reaching Mumbai Central, the TTEs returned half the amount to these passengers,” the officer said.
The TTEs would pocket the rest of the amount and never deposited the other half of the fare in the railway kitty.
When the three TTEs were checked, the CBI team found Rs 2,000 with Chawla who had allowed six of the 12 unauthorised passengers to travel in the train, Rs 20,250 with Sinha who allowed three passengers and Rs 13,220 with Singh who also permitted three passengers.
Besides, Singh had also taken Rs 1,500 from the three passengers as advance for another day’s travel.
The officer said that seven CBI teams involving 21 officers had boarded different compartments of the train from Vapi and kept watch on the TTEs while they were collecting money from the unauthorised passengers.
The Central Bureau of Investigation suspects the racket was on for around three years.