Despite strong action by railway authorities the tout menace continues to plague the country’s largest public transport network.
The Ministry of Railways claims to have taken action against over 4000 touts, in the last three years. The figures reveal that during the year 2011-12, 1846 touts were apprehended, which is almost double the number of people arrested for touting in 2009-10.
Similarly, 788 of the arrested persons were convicted for the crime, up from 499 in the year 2009-10.
According to the data compiled by the railway board,in 2011-12 the central zone arrested maximum number of touts (353), followed by south western zonal railways (290). Officials said, apart from the crackdown on the touts, they have taken a number of steps to check misuse of tatkal and advance booking facilities.
Now, tatkal tickets are issued only on the production of self attested photocopy of a valid identity proof, while the access for tatkal booking by agents through internet has been denied between 10 am and 12 pm.
Sources said the ministry is also exploring the feasibility of linking the purchase of tickets with the Aadhar card. The Railways Minister Pawan Bansal had met UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani to explore such a possibility. If this becomes operational, then the menace of touts would be reduced to a great extent.
Currently, touts book tickets in advance and then sell them in black. Genuine passengers are left in the lurch, as most of the tickets on long distance trains get waitlisted most of the time. Officials pointed out that using biometrics to check multiple booking by agents too could check this menace.