Ganpati festival rush has Konkan Railway all booked up

MUMBAI: Ganesh Chaturthi is a good four months away but the rush is already making itself felt. Online ticket bookings for trains to the Konkan region have gone through the roof. Over the past one week, the Konkan Railway has been overbooked with wait lists touching 1,000 in select trains.

The packed trains will be seen as a spoiler by several thousands of people hoping to get a confirmed ticket for the Konkan, especially Ratnagiri and Sawantwadi, for the festival. People have been taking advantage of the 120 days-in-advance booking option for booking tickets, either by standing in serpentine queues or waking up early for booking tickets online.

Not to forget the agents who use illegal software to augment the speed of booking tickets. These software allow booking up to 10 tickets with a single click. “Keeping track of illegitimate software is difficult. It is possible that over 1,000 tickets get booked in a second across the country,” said a senior rail official.

Railways caterer IRCTC claims it is doing everything to prop up the system. “On an average 7.20 lakh tickets are getting booked per day over the last few days,” said an official from IRCTC.

Officials claimed they have stationed Railway Protection Force (RPF) men at ticket counters and installed CCTV cameras to ensure that agents do not stand in queues and book multiple tickets. The agents usually take a commission of Rs 500 or more for each booking.

‘COUNTER-BOOKING’

Authorities recently seized 6,000 e-tickets, worth Rs 1.5 cr, booked using a software called ‘Counter’. Some 5,400 agents were using it. When grilled, the accused pointed out loopholes in the system. A rly source said some Railway personnel involved in the racket had been suspended.

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