June 30, 2012

Railways crack Whip on Tatkal Touts

In an attempt to crackdown on touts and illegal travel agencies, the Indian Railways on Friday came up with stricter rules and procedures for emergency and advance bookings. 

The IRCTC has decided to implement certain strict rules at the counters to act against the touts and illegal agents following the report of the Tatkal ticket booking scam. 

The Railway board officials met the IRCTC MD and discussed the serious matter. The department has decided to have separate timings for Tatkal and advance bookings. 

As per the new rule, there will be a separate counter at stations for Tatkal ticket bookings. To check the illegal acts inside railway counters, the CCTV cameras will be installed and Railway Protection Force (RPF) will be deployed at the stations. The booking clerk will not be allowed to use the mobile phone during working hours. Admitting serious lapses and negligence, the department has promised strong action and a series of solutions. 

The Railway authorities are also planning for changes in the internet bookings ensuring one that only one Tatkal booking is allowed per a computer. The ministry is also planning to get a software that will allow only one booking per IP address. 

The Railway came up with stricter rules following the media reports that showed how touts and illegal agents are booking tickets meant for emergency travel and sold them at a premium price to passengers. 

The travel agents bypass the heavy traffic to IRCTC's Tatkal booking site, log on quickly and get tickets at will. Usually Tatkal tickets are booked 24 hours before journey. But the agents are lakhs of rupees on their businesses to beat the traffic. They are following many steps to get the Tatkal tickets easily and providing them to their customers. 

The touts used to follow the simplest way by using a non-MTNL net connection. As traffic on the IRCTC site from BSNL servers are always busty, the agents through a different server can easily login to book ticket for their customers. 

If IRCTC stops usage of one IP address to book multiple tickets, the touts have another way to make the Railway fool. "Switch off your modem and turn it on again. You have a new IP address. This is because most service providers use dynamic IP addresses. If one will login using multiple IDs from different browsers, the IRCTC's efforts to restrict an access to travel agencies seem useless. 

The travel agencies used to get emergency tickets booking exactly after 8 am when the IRCTC books Tatkal tickets. The touts say that steps are all out of homework, practice and diligence to book the ticket fast.

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