Railways cuts booking period to 60 days

In a bid to curb the bulk booking of tickets by agents, the Railways has decided to bring down the advance reservation period from existing 120 days to 60 days, effective from May 1.

“From May 1, passengers will only be able to book tickets 60 days (excluding the day of journey) in advance. While all the bookings done up to April 30, under the advance reservation period of 120 days, will remain intact, others will have to be cancelled,” said a circular issued by the Railways on Thursday. Officials also made it clear that there would not be any change in the system adopted for certain trains like the Taj Express and the Gomti Express, where lower time limits (15 days) for advance reservations are in force. This will continue unchanged, the Railway officials said.

Explaining the reason behind the move, Railway officials said the current system was being misused by the touts to book almost all the tickets in advance in long distance and popular trains, and sell them at a premium to passengers. “The unsold tickets are returned on the last day,” they pointed out.

“The Railways had increased the advance reservation period to 120 days to let passengers plan their journey in advance. The Railways has now realised that most of the travellers do not plan their trip months in advance, owing to the hectic lifestyle.

The revised advance reservation period would come into effect, along with the increase in surcharge on tatkal and cancellation charges introduced in the last Railway Budget.

“Agents take advantage of the advance reservation period of 120 days and buy tickets in bulk and sell them for 119 days and return the unsold ones on the last day. Cancellation charges will have to be increased gradually to tackle this menace and ensure that genuine travellers get tickets,” Union Railway Minister Pawan Bansal had told Parliament recently.

The new advance reservation period would, however, only be applied to Indian passengers. Foreign tourists choosing to travel on Indian Railways would continue to enjoy 360 days of advance booking.