How Does The Tout Know More About My Train Ticket Than I Do?

23 SEP 2014

About My Train Ticket

   I wanted to buy a general (not Tatkal) train ticket recently, and I was told that no confirmed tickets were available. There were several trains but only wait-listed tickets were available, different wait-list numbers in various classes in different trains. I asked the booking clerk which train and which class gave me the best chance of a wait-listed ticket being confirmed, and also whether I should buy a Tatkal ticket instead. He told me that he was a booking clerk, not a lottery expert.

If I wanted the ticket I would have to figure out the odds myself. So I stepped out of the queue and rang up my personal statistician to ask him to rate my chances, and he wanted to know the total quota of reserved tickets (per class and per train) and the total quota of Tatkal tickets (per class and per train), but this information is highly classified and cannot be revealed by Indian Railways (it is so ‘top secret’ that even the top levels are in the dark about it).

Disappointed with my personal statistician, I rang up my personal astrologer for some help since he travels frequently by train and he has never been held back by an unconfirmed ticket. My astrologer’s advice was that I should contact a person called Vijay (obviously not his real name) who would help me out quickly. Not surprisingly, Vijay turned out to be a tout who charges a ‘fee’ to offer confirmed tickets even when they are theoretically not available.

Why cannot the Indian Railways authorities learn the tricks of the ticket trade from experts like Vijay? Vijay is certainly much more of an authority than the official authorities.

What prevents Indian Railways from prominently displaying the information which can enable people to decide whether they should take a chance on a general ticket or buy a Tatkal ticket instead? This information – the number of trains on a route, the reserved quotas for general and Tatkal tickets, the current reservation and wait-list positions, the current cancellation figures, etc. – is easily available to the railway authorities. As a matter of fact, Indian Railways can even ask some of the fancy IT companies to design software systems to crunch this data in real time and openly display ‘scientific tips’ on which train and which class to opt for at any point of time. Such systems can help you to get tickets without relying on the touts.

And no one should worry about what will then happen to Vijay. The IT companies will need Vijay’s expertise to design ticketing systems which are Vijay-proof. You need a tout to checkmate a tout.

One affected indian Bakra/bakri in the service of the people of India.


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