The August 28 tickets of Konkan Kanya Express getting sold out within two minutes of the ticket windows opening on Sunday (June 29) might have raised the hackles of thousands of Mumbaikars planning to go to their villages for the Ganpati festivities. However, the railways has done no wrong, or at least that's what the preliminary probe by Central Railway and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) indicates.
According to officials, an IRCTC analysis showed that more than 90% of all the booking addresses submitted on its website are from Maharashtra. Bookings had opened at 8am on Sunday, 60 days in advance for the journey on Aug 28.
According to the analysis, of the 220 ticket requests (730 passengers) that were confirmed, 122 were from various CR booking counters and 98 from the site.
"The analysis does not show any anomaly in the bookings. Around 48% tickets were booked through IRCTC website. The problem is that the sheer volume prevents IRCTC from being able to pin point if the addresses submitted are real or fake," said a senior official.
As per the CR data released earlier, bookings for various berths of Konkan Kanya Express, the most preferred train on the route for Ganpati devotees, was over by 8:01am on Sunday.
Tickets for First AC coach were sold out at 8:01am; 2AC tickets too were sold out at the same time, and by 8:10am, the waiting list was 25. The 3AC tickets were sold out at 8am itself, and by 8:03am, the waiting list was 320. The madness continued with the sleeper coach tickets getting sold out by 8:01am, and the waiting list reaching 1142 by 8:10am.
"Our computers show that the vast majority of tickets were sold at stations in Maharashtra. The only one station out of the way was Sasaram in Bihar, but that could be a coincidence. The problem is that 60% of the tickets were sold through IRCTC website," said a CR official.
For IRCTC, finding out who is booking what tickets from which part of the country is a logistical nightmare. Speaking to DNA earlier, Sunil Kumar, group general manager (Information Technology), IRCTC, had said, "To find this out, we need to first get hold of the IP address and then decipher it; it's time-consuming and also requires help from agencies fighting cyber crime."
The only long-term solution to this, according to officials, is upgrading Konkan Railway. "There is a large number of people going home for Ganapati festival on Konkan route, especially to places like Sindhudurg, Sawantwadi, Ratnagiri, etc. Then there are tourist destinations on this route like Goa, coastal Karnataka and Kerala. KR runs 39 pairs of trains every day. Last year it operated 844 extra trains and added some 1700-odd coaches to trains. But getting tickets is a still a near impossibility. Double the line, electrify it and operate more trains: there are no short-cuts," said a top-ranking railway official.
Several top BJP leaders had written to railway minister Sadanand Gowda seeking a probe into how tickets had been sold out within a minute. These letters alleged that touts from other states were cornering tickets in order to sell them at a premiums.
Bookings for Aug 28 Konkan Kanya Express on Sunday
Tickets sold through IRCTC: 98
Tickets sold through booking counters: 122
No. of passengers who got confirmed tickets: 730.