Drawing flak for the poor management in Tatkal bookings and to bring the alleged nexus between touts and railway staff to an end, the railway ministry on Monday claimed to have streamlined the booking system to a certain extent with the help of some new guidelines. Among the guidelines that are scheduled to come into effect from Tuesday, one deals particularly with the timing for Tatkal reservation.
Ministry officials said under the new arrangement, the booking of Tatkal tickets will start at 10 am on the day before the journey from the train's originating station, instead of the present 8 am.
It has also been decided that travel agents, even those authorised by the IRCTC and railways, would not be allowed to book Tatkal tickets between 10 am and 12 noon from counters or the Internet.
Although the effect of the new measures would be visible during the next festival rush, the railway administration is making arrangements - such as segregating Tatkal ticket buyers from normal ticket seekers through separate counters - for the orderly implementation of the amendments.
It also claimed to have installed CCTVs at all major booking centres to monitor any unusual activity. The ministry promised that it would be inspecting the reservation centres at regular intervals while vigilance raids would be conducted and helpline numbers displayed for ticket seekers to register complaints.
Still, questions are being raised about whether these measures would be stringent enough to keep "unofficial" agents and touts at bay. The railways, on an average, sells about 15-16 lakh tickets daily. This includes about 10 lakh reserved seats. Besides, there are at least 1.73 lakh berths reserved for Tatkal ticket holders.