New Delhi: With joyous rush that festivities usher, comes an even greater rush—the rush to secure berths in trains. As festivals approach, those living, working or studying away from their families try to get home to celebrate festivities together— but every year this leads to a monumental choke in trains—a question to which the railways seem to have no answer season after season.
The problem of shortage of berths on long-distance trains is compounded by touts who fleece those passengers willing to pay a premium for a confirmed ticket.
Upon investigating at major railways terminals across the country, Zeenews found that the situation was grim everywhere.
Endless queues of ticket hopefuls lined outside reservation counters at all these stations and most passengers stated that not even waitlist tickets were available on major routes. Touts preyed on gullible passengers and offered tickets at exorbitant rates—which at times rose to five to six times the price printed on the ticket.
At a reservation counter in Mumbai, a harried passenger told Zeenews that booking clerks said that not a single berth was available on trains towards Madhya Pradesh, but the passenger was approached by a tout who claimed that a confirmed berth would cost him Rs 1,500 (the price of which is Rs 480.)
A tout was caught on camera claiming that he could `manage` confirmed tickets for Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani, between Rs 2,500-3,000—a price twice the normal rate.
And despite all this, railway authorities continued looking the other way claiming massive `anti-tout` drives were on to check black-marketers.
At Delhi, the story was no different. As UP and Bihar-bound trains were booked beyond the capacity, even wait-list tickets were a rarity here.
Troubled passenger lamented that a "no reservation" board was pasted on booking windows and clerks claimed that even the waitlist were sold-out.
Others who spoke to Zeenews narrated that while they spent long hours in winding lines for a ticket, touts approached them with confirmed tickets, but at four times the price.
At Bhopal junction—a station that boasts of anti-tout measures—the situation was grimmer.
Passengers spoke to the reporter claiming how `not a single ticket` was available on any train.
Kamal Kishore Dubey, PRO, Western Central Railway, said, “Biometric profiling is done at the reservation counter to check multiple bookings by a single person.”
But long lines before reservation counters and cyber cafes that book tickets were testament to the fact that the railways wasn’t prepared to handle the festive rush of passengers.