New system, old result

March 30, 2012

Train Ticket Crisis in Ctg
New system, old result
Scalping of train tickets at Chittagong Railway Station is not being curbed despite the railway authorities’ preventive measures.
The authorities reduced the lead time for buying advance tickets from 10 days to 3 days since February 17 in an attempt to make saleable tickets available at the counters right before departure of trains, and also to curb scalping. The measure is applicable to all routes across the country.
But it failed to produce any positive result in Chittagong. The long queues at the ticket counters have been getting longer, and tickets for certain trains have been vanishing within hours of opening the counters.
Railway sources and sufferers said ticket scalpers continue to buy off a good portion of the tickets leading to an artificial crisis.
Omar Faruk, who was trying on February 20 to get tickets for February 23, said, “I waited for more than two hours in the queue, but failed to get tickets when I reached the counter.”
Like Faruk, other travellers also complained that they were in long queues for several hours, but the tickets were sold out before they reached the counter. This is an everyday affair, they said.
Abu Bakar Siddique who failed to buy a ticket from the counter said, “A man offered me a ticket for Dhaka bound train Subarna Express on the station premises.”
Another passenger, Qazi Shamim Hasan, who on February 25 could not get any ticket from the counter, said, “But I found two men trying to sell tickets at a high rate in front of the tea stalls at the station gate.”
He ultimately bought a Tk 150 ticket for Dhaka for Tk 350 from a scalper.
Chittagong Railway Station Manager AA Samsur Rahman however claimed that since the introduction of the new rule, ticket scalping stopped. The tickets are running out quick because of a rush of buyers, he said.
But his statement was proven wrong when on March 23 angry ticket seekers besieged him in his office room for more than an hour till Rapid Action Battalion arrived at the scene and calmed the situation.
The demonstrators said ticket sale began at 9:00am and around 9:20am the booking clerk announced that all advanced tickets for air-conditioned cars of Dhaka bound Turna Nishita and Mahangar Godhuli for March 26 were sold out.
On March 22 Government Railway Police (GRP) arrested a ticket scalper red-handed from Chittagong Railway Station.
GRP arrested another black marketer on March 6, and Bangladesh Railway (BR) East Zone authority suspended three Chittagong Railway Station officials on March 3 in connection with ticket scalping.
High officials of BR at a media conference on March 26 in Chittagong said they blacklisted around 6,500 mobile phone numbers of suspected ticket scalpers.
General Manager of BR East Zone Yusuf Ali Mridha said they, in an investigation, found that certain mobile phone users have been buying a lot of tickets in advance and selling those on the black market at much higher prices.
The rail authorities also found that black marketers are taking advantage of the e-ticketing system through which a person can remotely buy advance return tickets using BR’s internal wide area electronic communication network. The scalpers have also been buying a large quota of such e-tickets, said BR officials adding that as a preventive measure they have restricted e-ticket booking hours.
Under the restriction, e-ticket purchase will remain suspended between 9:00am and 11:00am daily.
Mohammed Shahjahan, additional director general (operation) of BR, said, “In addition to addressing the ticket problems, Bangladesh Railway will increase the number of cars in all four daily Dhaka-Chittagong trains within a short period time.”
Mahbubur Rahman Khan, station master of Chittagong Railway station, said travellers who are not used to the new ticket selling system suffer the most.
“I think the new system will bring positive result within a short time, and end the dominance of black marketers,” he added.
Ticket counters at the station are being closely monitored now to check ticket scalping, said the authorities.
Eight inter-city trains leave Chittagong Railway Station to different routes across the country everyday including Chittagong-Dhaka, Chittagong-Sylhet, Chittagong-Chandpur, and Chittagong-Noakhali routes.

-With The Daily Star input

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