You set-off early from house for railway station, stand in long queues with humidity parsing every bit of your body, and ultimately reach counter only when no tickets are available.
Lately, it has been found that tatkal seats are finishing soon after the booking starts. Even I tried to book a tatkal ticket online through my 4MBps broadband. Started with 20 seats available, it squeezed to 3 and finally my ticket status went to waiting list. Time was only 8:10, just 10 minutes after tatkal booking started.
The story is same everywhere. People are suffering, needy aren’t getting tickets but agents/brokers – both authorized as well as unauthorized still have a Diwali. Brokers online account is activated only after 10am but still they manage to get bulk tatkal tickets to sell at hefty prices. Booking counters are flooded with brokers and to make things more worse, officials at counters give them preference over general people.
Government is now looking to control things. Certain ideas are on the table of Indian Railways for discussion. These include,
1. Plan to make separate counter for tatkal booking – The idea is good but its diffciult to comprehend how this could limit brokers from getting tickets by wrong manner.
2. No cell phones to booking officals at counters – This one has some gas but only when applied correctly.
3. Only one ticket per computer – Another good idea but workable only when correctly implemented. If tracking computer relies only on computer’s MAC or IP of then this can easily be fooled by a 10yr old kid. Use of Google maps, alongwith IP and system MAC number can be a good notion to make this idea usable. Still the idea isn’t foolproof but a considerable one.
4. Changing timing of tatkal booking from 8 to 10 – This one is good as it would evenly distribute the traffic at booking counters that is usually big between 8-10am. Change of timing would help in better managment of ticket-seekers. Also no authorised agents, including those of the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation(irctc) will be allowed to Tatkal tickets booking in the first two hours i.e from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. [This change has been finalized and would probably be enforced very soon.]
5. Limiting activities of brokers – This is the biggest requirement. Brokers usually glue at ticket counters and book 10s of tickets at once. General people are kept waiting in long queues amidst scorching heat of May. Railways must also direct booking officials not to book more than 1-2 ticket for a single individual. Also, brokers must be dealt strictly and should be ripped-off their permit if indulged in wrong practices.
6. Taking snapshots of ticket seekers – This is the best idea of all as this can hugely limit the ongoing wrong practices in ticket booking in Indian Railways. Video/Image capture of ticket seekers in queue can help Indian Railways in keeping vigil over people who are genuinely booking tickets. This would also compel ticket bookers to avoid any favor to brokers which is a big problem.
The role of touts has been bothering the Railway ministry despite many measures to curb the menace. Different steps were taken in the past and lots will be taken in the future but permanent solution could only be reached when railway officials part-away from brokers. The problem persists because they have knots with brokers and they provide them with tickets in lieu of some favor: money or something else.