The great railway scam: This is why you can never book a ticket at 8 am

A probe revealed that daily 4,000 confirmed berths are hoarded by touts within a minute of the reservation system being thrown open to public.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | Amitabh Sinha & Geeta Guptanew Delhi | Updated: March 19, 2015 7:52 am
The probe found that the touts, who sell tickets at a higher price to passengers in need, were exploiting a “facility” in the passenger reservation software. The probe found that the touts, who sell tickets at a higher price to passengers in need, were exploiting a “facility” in the passenger reservation software.

Your chances of securing confirmed train tickets on popular routes just went up. The Railways has zeroed in on the biggest reason behind the perennial complaint of passengers not being able to get confirmed tickets even after turning up at the ticket counters at 8 am, when they open across India.

An internal investigation revealed that every day, 4,000 confirmed berths would be hoarded by touts within one minute of the computer reservation system being thrown open to public.

The probe found that the touts, who sell tickets at a higher price to passengers in need, were exploiting a “facility” in the passenger reservation software. The facility allows someone who has already purchased a ticket to alter journey details and book another train within seconds at the last moment.

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Touts would buy tickets for relatively less popular trains a day earlier, and then swap them for tickets on popular trains — Rajdhanis, Durontos and other long-distance trains — between 8 am and 8.01 am. This would take seconds since their booking details were already fed into the system.

“Touts would buy any ticket a day in advance and the next day, they would get ticket details changed. The booking clerk merely had to generate another PNR with the passenger details already fed into the system a day earlier. This took seconds,” Ajay Shukla, Member (Traffic), Railway Board, told The Indian Express. “We have now disabled this facility for the first hour after the system opens,” he added.

The probe, launched after the Railways Ministry found a huge number of tickets being booked this way, also indicated that booking clerks and other insiders were involved in the racket. The ministry plans now plans to pinpoint the culprits and take action.

After disabling the facility for the first hour, the Railway Board officials monitored the booking pattern across the country for the past few days. Now, instead of 4,000 journey/train changes in the first minute, only a few such changes are made in the course of the day. “We believe those are genuine transactions by passengers altering their journeys,” Shukla said.

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  1. H
    Harry Achari
    Mar 19, 2015 at 6:13 pm
    I firmly believe, the number of trains should be raised into three fold. Start from long routes or busy routes. It is an investing for tomorrow, so that people will travel by trains instead of flying, country has enough pengers so that it is a big profit making business. More trains costs more money. So that there will not any rush in booking. Malpractices and ders will disappear. Yes, extra trains in busy routes. Make booking available via internet or travel agents( this system is already existing many countries including poor countries) . If those corrupts officers are dismissed try not to recruit new ones for a while. Check if the trains are vacant while websites show full. Find responsible people and dismiss them at the spot blindly and put them in jail. Availability via internet company can throw excessive of workers. Another option is to allow private players so that they earn profit and they are able bring clean trains. Because they are collective. In the mean time, administration can be offered to the private companies with strict control.
  2. H
    Harry Achari
    Mar 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm
    Railway is a corrupt company. Officers are presumably looting its income . This kind of malpractice let company loos it's income. Find them, dismiss them and give fine of 5 lakh rupees and 15 years of jail so that we can clean the nation. Strict punishment is vital. This way rail will run efficiently. We are losing a huge amount of money every years because of those criminals. Travel any other third work country. You will see there are enough trains, enough seats and clean. Tickets are easily available. People are fed up. They need a real action. Railway should be one of the biggest profit making company. Clerk must loos their job and put behind bars
  3. R
    Ramesh Pau
    Mar 19, 2015 at 10:09 pm
    It will take a long time to reduce this and any corruption in India . Government staff has done lots of damage in congresses time . I would not be surprised if there is congresses hand behind this as well .
  4. T
    Thommen Jose
    Mar 20, 2015 at 10:04 am
    The crackdown has to be complete and completed. As a regular overland traveller I have always suspected something amiss; the Railways has done a good thing by at least cracking the whip, though a soft leather one. We all know the touts alone cannot pull off such a scam, all the guilty has to be brought to book.
  5. T
    Mar 19, 2015 at 8:20 am
    Nothing surprising about the role of insiders. this has shown if will is there this sort of mischief makers can be identified. Now the next right course of action should be to finish the enquiry quickly, suspend the culprits for wrong doing and post suspension allot same duties and if found again dismiss them.
  6. A
    Agastya M
    Mar 22, 2015 at 3:24 am
    Please just build a good collision avoidance system and improve basic infrastructure at stations. Then treble the number of trains on major routes. Today they claim to have fixed one loop. There are many more undiscovered. These guys seem very resourceful. Make seats plentiful and touts will get eliminated automatically. If unions protest fire them all. From Coolies to top level, there is nothing complex in running a train system. There is no big skill needed to manage a network. Within one hour 5 lakh qualified but presently unemplo Indians will join the workforce.
  7. A
    Ashutosh Nirala
    Mar 20, 2015 at 8:47 pm
    Real solution is increasing the number of trains and births. It is no surprise that reservation bogies are at least twice as crowded as the seats are available. If railway try increasing the bogies enormously for a months for few routes (and then to others), such dallas would soon have to find another job, which could solve this problem.
  8. A
    Anil Maheshwari
    Mar 19, 2015 at 10:27 am
    Another burning issue is of the VIP quotas. M.Ps. and M.L.As book many tickets and do not bother to surrender them in case they do not undertake the scheduled journey (it is invariable) depriving the genuine waiting list pengers' chances to board the trains. Even senior citizens, though booked 50 days in advance are allotted upper berths while tickets procured through touts get preferential treatment of lower berths. D.K. Mitthal committee, appointed by the Present Minister for Railways, has recommended reduction in the quotas. It is the time to implement the recommendations in the right earnest notwithstanding the bullying tactics of those who call themselves as the 'people's representatives'. On account of these quotas, once my ticket was not confirmed though it was wait-listed as no. one and booked 59 days in advance on Rajdhani Express, plying between New Delhi - Bangalore.
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