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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