Sunday, April 28, 2013

Connivance of Rail staff with agents in cornering tickets: PAC

 Sunday, April 28, 2013,
New Delhi: Taking note of bulk booking of tickets by Rail Travellers Service Agents, a parliamentary committee has observed that such illegal activities continue due to the "active connivance" of the railway officials.
"The agents could not have continued doing their irregular activities without active involvement or connivance of the officials manning the passenger reservation system," a draft report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said.

RTSAs are licence holder agents authorised by the Railway Ministry to procure train tickets on behalf of passengers by charging nominal service charges fixed by the ministry.

The scrutiny of the functioning of Tatkal and advance reservation system by the PAC revealed that genuine users for whom the scheme was intended were unable to avail the facility with ease as it was susceptible to manipulation.

It was also found that despite the involvement of RTSAs in various irregularities, no case has been registered against these agents in the last five years except in Delhi where nine cases were reported.

Seeking strong action against agents and railway staff, the committee has recommended the Railways to investigate all such cases and take deterrent punitive action against those involved.

Though RTSAs are appointed by the Railways, the committee said there was no provision in the computerised passenger reservation system for their identification to keep a record of ticket booking transactions carried out by them.

The report, slated to be tabled in the current session, has sought immediate measures to deactivate multiple user IDs of agents so that they are unable to manipulate the booking process.

In order to keep a stringent check on the activities of RTSA and website agents, the feasibility of issuing digitised ID needs examination to identify the tickets booked so that the scheme is not misused, the report stated.

Further, inspection of transactions done by RTSA/website agents should be done at regular intervals to ensure that the licenses of only those RTSAs are renewed who comply with the prescribed procedure, it added.

PAC pointed out irregularities in booking of tickets through PRS counters, booking of all Tatkal quota within a few minutes of opening of reservation, irregular booking by reservation clerks, connivance of railway agents and booking clerks, and irregular booking through Internet and authorised railway agents.

During examination of the subject, the committee were informed that the Tatkal reservation scheme has been revised with effect from November, 2011 and major modifications have been made with a view to minimise the chances of its misuse.

The committee also found that the system for Tatkal and advance ticket booking through IRCTC website would hang seemingly due to insufficient capacity of the server to meet the growing requirement of net users.

Since the use of e-ticketing facility is catching up fast among passengers due to its inherent ease and convenience, the committee recommended that the capacity of the Internet bandwidth and IRCTC server should be upgraded by installing high capacity server so that the system is able to cope up with the surge in online bookings.



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