[EXCLUSIVE] Indian train commuters' agony: 'Tumultuous Tatkal'

Sunday, June 10, 2012
By Subodh Kumar*

Location: Karkardoma Railway Booking Centre, Delhi
A common scene at most of Indian Railway's ticketing counters.
[PHOTO: news.BDTV.in]

Indian Railways' tatkal ticket booking, a process which was considered as a system that could ease the lives has now become problem with people waiting in long queues and agents exploiting them inside reservation premises and outside as well as.

Serpentine queues can be seen at the ticket reservation counters as the summer season is at its peak. With the summer vacation and vast wedding session have started the people are eager to get reservations for visiting their home town and hilly places in June. The condition is so worst that you could get nigh anything. Anything, except ‘tatkal’ railway reservation ticket, for which people are seen waiting, unperturbed, come rain or shine.

One can see the people waiting in long queues since before one night hoping to get a confirmed berth in the train as they strike out towards reservation counter the moment the main gate open. 

At present all the ticket counters across the Delhi either it is New Delhi Railway Station, Karkardooma Reservation Counter or any other railway station in the city are witnessing rush of passengers. 

People of all ages and even women are reaching at ticket booking counters. The women queue usually stretch long since morning till afternoon. Meanwhile, if people create bedlam police resort to lathicharge. The queue of senior citizens can also witness rush as several elderly people stand in the queue to get the tickets booked.

These are the people who arrive at the footpath outside station, and one can witness people squatting and sleeping whole days and nights outside the booking station. Interestingly, after long, idly spent, hours when heeding nature’s call, these poor souls have to place someone, or sometimes something, in their place to act as a buffer for their spot on this seemingly unending queue.

The long queues often feature recurring faces, non other then the people employed by agents. These hired men stand in the queue and buy tickets for the agents who pay them handsomely.

It is lucrative job and attracts unemployed and unskilled individuals who only have to sit and sleep on the footpath before the arrival of their turn at the booking counter. Normally, an agent sits in waiting as early as 8.00 a.m. the day before his turn. The morning after his arrival on the spot, his kinsmen come and add to the queue. Thus the cycle continues.

An agent gets approximately Rs.200 to Rs.500 for one confirmed tatkal ticket, particularly for long distance trains bound for Delhi and parts of Northern India. 

The common man has neither the time nor the energy to wait in such queues. Those who try are harassed to no end by the aforementioned agents, who often send the poor bloke back claiming that his spot on the queue already belongs to someone else.

Hapless citizens find themselves with no option, but to pay the demanded amount to procure the tatkal ticket.

A Fervent Appeal:  Bahadur Singh, who wanted to book a tatkal ticket for West Bengal, said, “It is my sincere appeal to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who ushered in an economic revolution by introducing liberalisation, to bring in a system that ensures that we don’t need to wait for hours to get a mere ticket. We are common folk and have work, family and other obligations. These processes are supposed to make our lives easier, not harder.”

When economic liberalisation came to India in the early nineties, the days of waiting to avail any service seemed to go away for good. Now, it seems that predicament revealing the agony against world's fourth largest railway network.

(*Subodh Kumar is the Executive Editor of news.BDTV.in. He can be reached at subodh@bdtv.in)

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Write comments
8 June 2012 at 11:31 delete

really condition is pathetic at reservation centre, there should be ways to tackle..... hope good.

9 June 2012 at 22:19 delete

very well written.
a numerous words lined up inn a very beautiful way...

and thee situation..?
yes it is very pathetic...

great going sir

10 June 2012 at 12:13 delete

Really the condition is so worst ....govt need to bring some policy for it..

18 March 2014 at 18:41 delete

ye condition hamesh rahni hai..sudhrne vali nahi..