Tatkal tantrums

Why web-based agents have been barred from getting access to tatkal bookings during 8-9 am, ask Delhi agents

shivani

Shivani Chaturvedi | July 8, 2010




City-based ticket agents, as a rebuttal, have denied  any responsibility for the frequent crashes of the IRCTC website, putting them at loggerheads with the Railways. The Railways, earlier this week, decided to bar agents from booking tatkal tickets online, citing the website crashes.

The move followed rising number of complaints from passengers regarding the crashing of the website during 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. due to heavy activity. Further, the tatkal quota seats also were all taken within minutes of being up for booking - almost all the time.

However, agents are refuting the charges pointing fingers at the Railways instead.

"Even we are not able to access the website during that period. How can we corner tickets?” says Divya Bhatia, who runs a Daryaganj travel agency.

Barring agents from online tatkal bookings may not be the best solution to crashing websites, she feels. " Instead, the government should concentrate on strengthening its network capacity so that the website does not get jammed," Bhatia adds.

Criticising the move, Anil Sharma, a Janakpuri (West) travel agent says that the railways should not have invited the agents to be a part of the ticket booking business. "The decision is ridiculous," says Sharma, "Why are the authorities not acting against the touts who sell tickets priced at Rs 500 for Rs 2,000?" He mentions a recent case of a tout selling a ticket to Patna for Rs 2,000 outside New Delhi railway station.

"Illegal activities take place right under the nose of these officials. But have they been able to check these so far? If the railways really want to do something for the passengers, they should try enhance their website features - scale up on both webspace and servers," he says.

Technology-upgrade is Sharma's prescription for online booking woes.

A Soami Nagar travel agent echoes Sharma and Bhatia. "Why has the government taken such a decision?"  he asks. "Instead of focussing on strengthening the infrastructure, they have decided to curtail agents' services. I fail to understand why the authorities are doing so," he says.

Update

IRCTC is now flashing a message on its website alerting ticket agents about Railways' directive to bar them from booking tatkal tickets online.

K M Cariappa, AGM (PR) IRCTC, said," We are in the process of implementing the directives of the Railway Board. In the coming week, it will be operational. The message is just to alert all to the move."

The agents, however, are refuting all allegations saying that they have nothing to do with the website crashes.

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