A nexus between touts and railway reservation clerks reported by the Hindustan Times last month has now been confirmed by a Parliament committee.
A draft report of the public accounts committee has said that illegal, bulk booking of tickets by rail travellers’ service agents continues due to “active connivance” of railway staff manning the passenger reservation system.
On March 13, HT had published a report “Railways takes on its ‘touts-cum-staff” saying these staffers have emerged as the biggest obstacle in dealing with the menace of ticket touting. The railway ministry allows railway travel service agents (RTSAs) to procure tickets on behalf of passengers by charging nominal service charges fixed.
However, there is some relief for officials in Delhi as the PAC report mentions that nine cases had been lodged against RTSAs in the Capital, while there has been no such case reported in the country in the last five years.
“We’re doing our best. The northern railway has arrested 74 persons from its premises for being involved in ticket touting during 118 raids conducted ahead of the Holi rush from March 1 to March 20,” said a senior northern railway official.
“Raids were also conducted on the premises of authorised and unauthorised ticket agencies to prevent blocking of reservations under fictitious names and subsequent sale of transferred tickets. During these checks, 52 touts and seven agents were prosecuted,” he said.
“We’re keeping a close watch on railway staff susceptible to connivance with travel agents. We are raiding premises of ticketing agencies. Railway’s staff will be under scrutiny if passengers’ names are changed. When additional coaches are added, this information will without fail be used for updating of waiting lists. In 2012, we arrested 149 touts,” said a Delhi division official.
A vigilance drive conducted from January to September last year found as many 1,556 Northern Railway employees involved in malpractices in Tatkal ticket reservation.