Railways revises Policy of Ticket Booking agency (SBTAs)

Nagpur: In view of the lacklustre response, the Railway Board has revised the policy to engage station ticket booking agents (STBAs) to issue unreserved tickets at ‘E’ category stations.

Non-suburban stations with less than 1 crore earnings annually fall under the ‘E’ category. These stations are small and are also known as non-block or flag stations. The basic aim of the policy is to facilitate station managers (SMs) and assistant station managers (ASMs) to concentrate better on train operations. Otherwise, apart from their basic job, the SMs also had to issue tickets to passengers.

On September 3, the Railway Board announced a new policy for STBAs. The policy was first announced on October 24, 2013, and had been extended from time to time. Nagpur Central Railway PRO PD Patil did not respond to calls. However, a senior commercial department official admitted that owing to stringent conditions put by the railways there were no takers for the policy.

“Many ‘E’ category stations are in remote areas where passengers travel without tickets. Due to low ticket sale and commission, agents are not coming forward for the job. Of the around 100 stations in Nagpur Central Railway, 20-25 may be under ‘E’ category,” the official said.

Nagpur South East Central Railway (SECR) Divisional Commercial Manager (DCM) Tanmay Mukhopadhyay said, “The policy has been revised. There are 71 ‘E’ category stations in our division. Of the 42 recommended by the committee, STBS have been appointed at 35 stations.”

Under the new policy, initially the STBA shall be engaged for a period of three years. Till the policy is in place, a six-month extension will be granted to existing agents till the new agreement. Each side will be free to terminate the contract without assigning reasons by giving a notice of 10 days.

The STBA will be allowed to sell all types of non-concessional unreserved tickets, including platform and season tickets. However, there is hardly any sale of platform tickets at ‘E’ category stations.

The Railway Board has directed all divisions to float tenders at the earliest for engagement of STBAs as per the new scheme.

Though railways promise to bear the cost of hardware and software, including maintenance, electricity and hiring, practically it doesn’t happen, say sources.

Selection of STBAs

* A committee of junior administrative grade (JAG) from commercial, accounts and operating department will assess number of counters at the station

* Candidate who opts for least commission (4%) on monthly sales turnover shall be engaged as STBA

* A refundable security deposit of 5,000 and bank guarantee of 20,000 shall be deposited by the STBA