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Touts take rail passengers for a ride

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CONSTANT CROWD: Long queues at reservation counters in Madurai. Photo:K. Ganesan
CONSTANT CROWD: Long queues at reservation counters in Madurai. Photo:K. Ganesan

S. Vijay Kumar

No accommodation in trains during puja, Deepavali holidays

MADURAI: Be it `tatkal' reservation or special trains, the tickets get booked within minutes after the counters open at 8 a.m. on weekends. This has become a usual phenomenon in the Madurai Division where touts seem to rule the roost. During peak season, the menace becomes worse.

With Dasara and Deepavali fast approaching, there is hardly any accommodation on trains in the Chennai-Madurai route during the first and third week of October. While students and others keep their fingers crossed, wondering how to reach home for the festivals, the Southern Railway is yet to announce special trains. Even as eight express trains are operated in the Chennai-Nagercoil section, there has been a constant demand for more trains.

Considering the slow pace of Madurai-Dindigul broad gauge doubling work, introduction of additional trains is considered "unsafe," say railway officials adding that the utility of the section has crossed 175 per cent.

Last year, 60 special trains were operated in September-November to clear extra rush. "Instead of waiting till the last minute, the railway can announce operation of special trains in advance. Touts in the guise of travel agents book many tickets in fictitious names," says B. Venkataraman, a frequent traveller.

According to the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Alexander Gnanaolivu, surprise checks are being organised to curb the activities of touts. Proposals have been sent for operating special trains.

"Passengers found to be travelling on tickets booked in the names of others would have to face severe action," he warned.

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