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Railway touts to face cameras but the 90 day in advance reservation system stinks

March 3, 2007

The good news is that the railways are finally realising that touts who buy and sell tickets in black are a disease. Central Railway in Mumbai has installed cameras at the main Passenger Reservation System (PRD) centre. Its going to a real shocker for the touts who had a field day so far.

The cameras are to be installed at the entry point of the PRS (Passenger Reservation System) hall to film each person as he or she enters. Probably this measure has been taken because the authorities know that with the advent of the 90 day in advance reservation system, touts are going to be raking it in.

Considering that we are the world’s busiest and largest railway network in the world, its time we did something concrete to make it clean anyway. In fact a report in today’s TOI Mumbai talks of a new record for the Indian Railways. On the first of March this year, the Indian Railways can boast of posting its highest ticket sales ever! This has ofcourse happened due to the fact that the PRS is now allowing reservations up to 90 days before the actual journey. Almost 18,00000 tickets (turnover Rs 28 crore or $ 6347767) were sold on first of March, and this is an increase of more than 60 percent over the previous day, which was the last day of the 60 day advance buying system.

About the new system by itself, well, I don’t like it. In fact the more I think about it the less I like it. I remember many years ago 90 days advance booking was allowed (before the electronic booking started) and one had to start thinking in January itself about where to go for the summer! In fact when the advance booking was reduced to two months from three, it was a step in the right direction and I was hoping they would reduce it to one month. Unless the railways can ensure that there are enough seats available even a month in advance, then only this system is acceptable. The fact that people are desperate is evident from this news report:

“The Railway Police had a tough time dealing with the milling crowds, with fisticuffs and other unruly scenes breaking out as it soon became apparent that confirmed berths disappeared minutes after the computerised reservation counters opened for business at 8 am. The worst to suffer were defence personnel who had turned up to confirm their railway warrants, with only three counters assigned to them.

Fearing the situation may get out of hand, Station Manager J M Laturkar ordered additional reinforcements of railway and military police. As it took time for the reinforcements to arrive, the situation steadily worsened with only four policemen and four general military police personnel to control the mob.”

Well, the Indian Railways have regressed as far as I am concerned. I wonder if this is one of Laloo’s ideas to rake in more money?

Maybe this system will work for those who go to a fixed place every summer but for those who are planning holidays to different destinations this system isn’t good. In fact, planning any long journey three months in advance is not something everyone can do. Everyone knows how it is in India. Organisations do not like to give leave, even deserved leave. They give it reluctantly, as if they are doing you a big favour. In fact, leave being cancelled at the last minute is very common. Its not like it is in developed countries. And exams get postponed. If you just type in the key words exams postponed you will get scores of news reports, mostly from India!

Overall, this system stinks. I am sure that it will lead to large scale cancellation of tickets…

The only thing we can hope for is that it has been set up on an experimental basis and some changes will be brought in. As a moderate measure one can reserve a certain quota of tickets for every month. This will at least reduce cancellations and the alarming power given to touts under this new system.

Related Reading: Online reservation system in India biggest in the world
Indian Railways making profits at the cost of customers
When will the Indian Railways clean up their act?

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