Special squads being formed to tackle the menace
MADURAI: With the advance booking period for railway tickets being extended from 60 days to 90 days from March 1, the Madurai Division of the Southern Railway is gearing to counter the threat of tout menace.
To being with, 48 `vigilance surveillance cameras' are being installed at vantage points in Madurai station at a cost of Rs. 28 lakh. Special squads comprising Railway Protection Force, Tamil Nadu Railway Police and Commercial department personnel are being formed to check the "misuse" of advance reservation. This mechanism will be extended to Tuticorin, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar and Dindigul stations soon.
Talking to `The Hindu' here on Thursday, the Additional Divisional Railway Manager, M. Suyambulingam, said continuous recording at the reservation complex would help in identifying "familiar" faces at the counters.
Besides, squad members would stand in the queue in plainclothes and observe the activities of "suspicious" persons.
"Stringent action would be taken against those found guilty of blocking tickets in the names of fictitious persons.
Surprise checks would be made on trains en route to check the identity of passengers with common names. Reservation staff will insist on photo identity and telephone/mobile numbers for bulk booking (more than six passengers in a ticket)."
Mr. Suyambulingam said a database of telephone numbers with addresses was being created in association with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and private telecom operators.
"When there is mismatch of telephone/mobile number with addresses given in the reservation slip, the matter will be handed over to the police for investigation. It will also be easy to track down the suspected applicant since camera recording will be stored for at least a month.
Steps are being taken to ensure that the extended period of advance reservation benefited genuine passengers."
Following complaints of touts blocking tickets in common names, a team led by the Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Alexander Gnanaolivu, conducted raids on select trains recently.
Passengers who could not prove their identity and confessed to have purchased tickets from touts were levied a heavy penalty, railway sources added.