More Tatkal tickets will be available for passengers now as the railways has weeded out illegal softwares and arrested 60 agents who would use them to block such tickets, a top official said yesterday (Tuesday, 18th February 2020).
A confirmed train ticket is extremely hard to come by in India, especially in smaller towns. A confirmed ticket on an important route can earn a premium of Rs 200 to Rs 500. During the festival season, there are long queues at ticket windows.
Railway Protection Force (RPF) Director General Arun Kumar said the cleansing operation means Tatkal tickets would be available for passengers for hours now, compared to a minute or two earlier after the booking opens.
Officials explained that illegal softwares such as ‘ANMS’, ‘MAC’ and ‘Jaguar’ would bypass the IRCTC’s login captcha, booking captcha and bank OTP to generate tickets, while a genuine user has to go through all these processes. The booking process for a general user usually takes around 2.55 minutes, but those using these softwares could do it in just around 1.48 minutes, they explained.
The Railways does not allow agents to book Tatkal tickets and over the past two months, the RPF has nabbed around 60 illegal agents who were booking tickets through these softwares, making it virtually impossible for others to get Tatkal bookings.
These agents operated in sophisticated corporate-like structure in India comprising a country head, super-admins, lead-sellers and more than 20,000 agents. “As of today, I can say that not one ticket is being booked through illegal softwares. We have plugged all the issues that we had with the IRCTC website and also nabbed most of those who were top operators of the software,” the RPF DG said at a press briefing.
With the arrests, Kumar said most of these illegal softwares, which used to generate business of Rs 50 crore-100 crore annually, have been blocked.
The IRCTC’s ticket booking section reflects the impact of the railway action as it shows a jump in the availability of Tatkal tickets across the board. For example, while on October 26, 2019, Tatkal tickets were available for two minutes for the Magadh Express, on February 10, they were available for over 10 hours since the bookings opened on February 9, 2020 on the train.
Similarly, on the Sampoorna Kranti Express, Tatkal tickets were available for a little over four minutes on November 16, 2019, while on February 8, 2020, there were available for 18 minutes. On the Swatantrata Senani Express, on November 16, 2019, the Tatkal bookings lasted for just a little over two minutes, while on February 8, it lasted for more than an hour.
“This position has been taken from different zones and we have seen that the Tatkal tickets are available for longer. We are still monitoring other softwares which can be used to book tickets and will move on them as and when they try to book tickets illegally,” said Kumar.