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AGENTS BARRED FROM BOOKING TICKETES IN FIRST HOURS

PATNA: The railway ministry, in a major decision, has banned travel agents from accessing the railway website for online booking of railway tickets in the first hour between 8 am and 9 am each day. Now, these agents, including web service agents of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), will be not eligible to access the tatkal booking facility of the railways through e-ticketing, said a Railway Board official.
According to the official, this step has been taken following a slew of complaints about travel agents indulging in gross malpractices while purchasing tatkal tickets through e-ticketing. The recent fake ticket scam in Samastipur division of East Central Railway (ECR) was a glaring instance in this regard. Besides, this step would facilitate common users to have easy access to the tatkal ticket during the first hour of ticket booking each day across the country, he said.
According to the Board official, the ordinary users were being deprived of the tatkal booking as these agents, including IRCTC authorized master agents, were booking tickets in bulk at different places in the country, including Bihar. The railway ministry's decision would save common users from being harassed and prevent touts and unscrupulous people from cornering seats and berths especially during the first hour of the day through e-ticketing, he said.
The IRCTC approved master agents, the largest online ticket booking network of the railways, have appealed to the IRCTC to present their case before the railway ministry.
According to an IRCTC official, at present there are about one lakh web service agents engaged in e-ticketing booking in the country. In fact, they have been booking about 35 per cent online railway tickets of the total tickets booked at the country level. These master agents include Interactive Tradex Indian Pvt Ltd, Suvidha and OSS in each zone of the Indian Railways, he said.
Talking to TOI, one of the master agents said that this new order is unfair on our franchisees. "We earn our livelihood out of petty income that we make through e-ticketing bookings. The demand for tatkal tickets is on the rise these days. If this facility is banned during the prime first hour, what will be the charm in this business," he said, adding people would now approach middlemen and touts for getting tatkal tickets at premium rate.
Read more: Agents barred from booking tickets in first hour - Patna - City - The Times of India
Source - TIMES OF INDIA

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