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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Failed to book tatkal ticket? These apps may be to blame

The reason behind the phenomenon of “vanishing berths” could be revealed with a visit to the Google Play Store — where a search of ‘tatkal train tickets’ will fetch up numerous unofficial / illegal mobile applications that promise tatkal tickets in as few as 20 seconds.  

lucknow Updated: May 09, 2018 14:47 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Oliver Fredrick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation claims these mobile phone applications are illegal and advises people to use the official app — IRCTC Rail Connect.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation claims these mobile phone applications are illegal and advises people to use the official app — IRCTC Rail Connect.(Getty Images)
         

Owing to the approaching summer holidays at schools, there’s an extra rush of train passengers. Expectedly, the demand for tatkal tickets at Charbagh railway station is peaking. However, many passengers say they are left feeling frustrated every time they try booking tatkal tickets. The berths seem to vanish soon after the booking opens, they say.  

The reason behind the phenomenon of “vanishing berths” could be revealed with a visit to the Google Play Store — where a search of ‘tatkal train tickets’ will fetch up numerous unofficial / illegal mobile applications that promise tatkal tickets in as few as 20 seconds.  

Of the many mobile phone applications available for the purpose, ‘Fast Book - Tatkal Ticket IRCTC’ app tops the list with a ‘4.4 star’ rating. The application, developed by devzstudio mobile, claims to be the fastest. Its description reads — ‘This is the Fastest Ticket Booking App for IRCTC, which can book tickets under 25 seconds provided you have high speed internet connectivity’. 

A further reading of the description sheds more light on why a booking may be a matter of just a few seconds. ‘While booking a tatkal ticket from your mobile phone, most of the time is spent in filling details like source, destination, date, train and coach details and payment method. This app helps you save time by auto filling the details for booking in IRCTC forms and gives you edge over other users’— says the description. 

No wonder, the app has over 5,000 positive reviews and more than 1 lakh downloads.

However, it is not the only such application. There are many more such as ‘Confirm tatkal ticket’, ‘Super tatkal tickets’, ‘MakkhiChoose train ticket’, ‘Jugaad train ticket’, ‘Kikde tatkal’ and others. They promise facilities like faster booking, local storage of payment method and login credentials, auto-fill forms and more.  

However, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) claims these mobile phone applications are illegal and advises people to use the official app — IRCTC Rail Connect.

Siddartha Singh, public relations officer IRCTC said, “These are certainly unofficial applications and using them may lead to adverse consequences.” He added that IRCTC often ran awareness drives to make people aware of the official app. 

However, no concrete steps have been taken to curb the menace of unofficial apps.

Satya Prakash, senior divisional security commissioner RPF Northern Railways (NR), elaborated on the risks posed by these illegal apps. “It is risky to fill in your payment details on these applications without first verifying their credibility. The app developer may misuse the details or sell them to hackers,” he said. 

He also hinted that district Gonda could be the hub of these illegal apps. “A joint operation is required to curb this menace,” he said. 

On Sunday, the UP special task force also busted a gang of high-tech criminals and arrested two who were involved in bypassing IRCTC’s security measures and selling confirmed tatkal tickets at a premium.

STF claimed that the agents used a software to fill in passenger and train details along with the payment mod. They made multiple bookings through a single click. Their software also bypassed security features like Captcha fields and OTP mechanisms, and used auto-fill forms and e-wallet services on fake KYCs.

First Published: May 09, 2018 14:47 IST