The move by the Railways to have more than one counter for booking ‘Tatkal’ tickets between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. has come as a relief for passengers in Chennai. The Government Railway Police (GRP) also conducted checks to ensure that agents did not book the tickets during the one hour period.

The railways had announced that with effect from July 10, the Tatkal booking facility for public would be enabled from 10 a.m. onwards, instead of 8 a.m. No authorised agent, including those from IRCTC, will be allowed to book tickets online until noon. With this move, the railways hope to keep touts away from booking tickets discreetly, the moment booking opens at the computerised reservation centres.

There were 11 counters at Chennai Central, five at Egmore, and one counter each in booking centres, including Beach, Tambaram and Mambalam stations, allotted for ‘Tatkal’ booking. “There were about 300 people in Chennai Central alone at around 10.45 a.m.. This shows many were waiting for such a move to be introduced,” said R. Ashok, who was there to book a train ticket to Kerala.

Commuters, who used to struggle to get a Tatkal ticket, now heave a sigh of relief. “There was a good crowd despite it being a lean season. But passengers did not have to wait for a long time as there were many counters. The main benefit is that there were no booking agents,” said T. Ravi Kumar, president of the All India Rail and Bus Passengers Welfare Association.

To prevent touts from booking tickets between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., GRP and Railway Protection Force personnel conducted surprise checks at the centres.

“The police checked the ticket booking forms and identity cards to ensure that there were no agents in the queue. We will be conducting similar checks regularly,” said Sekar, GRP inspector, Chennai Central Railway Station.

However, passengers are of the opinion that the Railways could have fixed the slot to between 8 a.m and 9 a.m. “Many will have to take permission from their workplaces to book the tickets. It is not possible to send another person in our place to book the ticket either, as it is not allowed,” said Mr. Ravi Kumar.

More In: Chennai