Central Railway has received complaints regarding the presence of touting activities in Central Railway trains during the Ganapati Festival Season for the Advance Reservation Period (ARP) opened for 15th September 2023 to 21st September 2023. It has been brought to our attention that a significant number of people traveling from the Konkan area to their villages during festivals such as Holi, the summer season, and Ganapati festival face difficulties in obtaining confirmed reservations. The complaints allege the existence of a racket involved in booking railway tickets in large quantities by brokers, who subsequently sell them at exorbitant prices.
In light of these serious allegations, Central Railway has conducted a thorough examination and made the following observations:
1. The total number of berths available in all trains combined during any single day of the Ganapati Festival rush in the Konkan region is approximately 5058 berths per day. However, during the first four minutes of the opening date, a staggering 54,401 bookings were made for the period of 15th September 2023 to 21st September 2023 against the available capacity of 35406 seats, indicating a massive demand that far exceeds the availability of berths on any given day.
2. On the opening of ARP bookings in May 2023 for the first four minutes i.e. 8:00:00 to 8:03:59, a total of 54,401 passengers booked their tickets for the period from 15th September 2023 to 21st September 2023. Out of these, 5,875 passengers were booked through physical counters, while 48,526 passengers made online bookings. Comparatively, during the same period last year, a total of 25,995 passengers booked their tickets, with 6,010 through counters and 19,985 through online platforms. This year, there has been more than double bookings by the passengers, reflecting a significant rise in demand.
3. In the opening week of this year’s Ganapati Festival Season, 5,087 passengers were confirmed through counter ticket bookings, and 19,226 passengers were confirmed through internet bookings. In contrast, during the opening week of last year, 5,482 passengers who booked through counters were confirmed, and 11,844 passengers who booked online were confirmed. Thus number of seats this year have also increased by 6987 seats.
4. Investigation is underway regarding suspicious online and counter tickets. It has been observed that the booking share of counter tickets from the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Gujarat was 86.86%, a slight decline from 93.69% last year. Bookings from other states have shown marginal growth. Additionally, there is a significantly high number of reservations at certain counters in smaller stations, which is currently under further investigation.
5. A comprehensive analysis of online tickets has been conducted by IRCTC for the aforementioned period. The following facts were revealed:
A. No authorized agent is permitted to book opening Advance Reservation Period (ARP) tickets until 15 minutes after the ARP opening time.
B. Personal users are allowed to book tickets in the first 15 minutes. However, no user can obtain tickets through internet ticketing before the prescribed time checks, which currently stands at 40 seconds.
C. IRCTC has identified 164 personal user IDs to be of suspected nature based on various parameters such as incomplete profiles, disposable email IDs, and ticket history.
D. The report highlights a list of 181 PNRs tickets booked by these users, out of which 102 PNRs were booked within the first minute. This matter is currently under further investigation.
Central Railway takes these allegations of touting activities seriously and is committed to maintaining a fair and transparent ticketing system. We are working diligently to identify and address the underlying issues to ensure that passengers have equal and unhindered access to ticket reservations.