Last-minute travel plans ahead of a festival like Holi often leave railway passengers disappointed with no tickets available or a long waiting list. But the failure of authorities to curb the touting menace compounds travellers’ miseries.
From March 1 to March 20, Northern Railways arrested 74 persons for touting during 118 raids conducted ahead of the Holi rush.
Raids were 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.
Two passengers were also found travelling on transferred tickets during the period, officials said.
“We have been trying our best to check touts but weak laws hamper our efforts. After a TV channel conducted a sting operation and showed a tout fleeing when caught on camera, we nabbed him on Monday. But he was set free after a payment of R2,000 and will go back to touting,” admitted a senior official.
According to the Northern Railways, an action plan has been chalked out to ensure smooth functioning of reservation counters and complaint-free passenger amenities, apart from curbing malpractices at reservation offices.
Senior railways officers have been deputed as supervisors and officials have also been nominated to countersign requisition slips and ensure availability of adequate number of forms at all reservation offices.
A team of commercial and vigilance inspectors, besides police officials, have been deputed at reservation offices for surveillance too. Squads of commercial and ticket checking staff have been formed for surprise checks to curb touting.
“We’re trying our best to ensure better facilities We launched dozens of special trains to ease the Holi rush. Most of them will also be extended to deal with the upcoming summer rush. But cooperation from passengers is also required. We appeal to them not to patronise touts and unauthorised ticket agencies,” the official said.