Ahmedabad (ADI): Next time you go to the railway reservation counter at Kalupur or Gandhigram, don’t be surprised if you are asked to provide your biometric data before booking train tickets. To curb the menace of touts, the Western Railway has introduced a system of biometric authentication of ticket buyers at reservation counters.
“Anyone who goes to the reservation centre to purchase a railway ticket will have to collect a token after recording his finger and palm print. Incidentally, this system also ensures that the person does not have to stand in a queue. An electronic board will tell the person the counter number where he can purchase his ticket,” said a senior railway official.
Umesh Khatri, private firm accountant, said he found the system helpful. “You don’t need to be highly-qualified to use it. When the electronic board displays your number, you head to the counter assigned to you. I also liked the fact that there are many seats there. Waiting for long periods of time can become tiresome. Senior citizens will benefit a lot from this initiative,” said Khatri.
Similarly, Nirav Daswani, a businessman, said that the process is really simple once you become familiar with it. “It simplifies the process of ticketing. There will be less chaos and people will be more disciplined. And, as there is no queue, there will be no jostling or quarrels,” Daswani said.
Railways officials said that the system was earlier introduced in metro cities and when it was found to be successful there, it was implemented in other parts of the country. An official said that a genuine customer will visit the reservation counter perhaps once a month if he is a businessman. Touts, on the other hand, tend to visit reservation centres several times a day. The biometric authentication system will help authorities identify the touts and distinguish between them and genuine customers, the official said.
Officials said that identifying touts and black-marketeers will be easy since the counters also have CCTV cameras installed. A person who is captured by the cameras regularly and whose biometric data is also recorded frequently could be a tout. Also those who just loiter at the centre but do not register their biometric data will be classified differently. “We are in the process of evaluating the data which has been recorded so far,” said a senior officer.