The Central Bureau of Investigation conducted surprise checks on seven trains departing from Chennai on Friday night and claimed to have unearthed major irregularities in the allotment of berths under the Emergency Quota (EQ).

According to agency sources, CBI teams accompanied by railway vigilance officials checked the Chennai-Madurai Pandian Express, Chennai-Tirunelveli Nellai Express, Chennai-Tiruchi/Kumbakonam Rockfort Express, Chennai-Mangalore Express, Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Mail and two other express trains.

“It was found that many private persons managed to get berths under EQ with the help of travel agents. They paid Rs. 300 extra (on the actual fare) to get the waitlisted ticket confirmed. In some cases, passengers said friends in the railways/employees' unions helped them. Violation of protocol and other conditions in allotting EQ has been established,” a top CBI official said on Saturday.

Investigators said they suspected a nexus between travel agents and some railway employees.

“We will have to check who recommended EQ to private persons and on what grounds it was allotted. Going by protocol, the facility has to be extended to public representatives, patients, senior citizens, government officials, VIPs and others,” he said. The agency was verifying information whether fake letter pads of VIPs were used to apply for EQ. In a few trains heading towards north, Travelling Ticket Examiners were in the habit of taking bribes to allow passengers with unreserved tickets travel short distances in upper classes without issuing extra fare ticket, the sources said.

The CBI officials also checked the quality of bedrolls supplied to passengers in the seven trains.

“It was observed that bedrolls were given to passengers in First Class and Sleeper Class on payment of Rs. 20. But receipts were not issued...this is in gross violation of rules,” the official said, adding that the surprise checks would continue.