CHENNAI: Booking railway tickets through Internet is fast picking up in Tamil Nadu. An analysis conducted by Southern Railway has revealed that 52.13 per cent of the bookings for popular trains leaving on October 24 (two days before Deepavali), which were opened on July 26, were booked through Internet and the rest was done through counters involving 56 passenger reservation system (PRS) locations such as Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Tiruchi, Tirunelveli, Trivandrum, Tuticorin, etc. Nearly 90 per cent of the centres are in Tamil Nadu.
Normally 15 to 20 per cent of bookings are done through Internet daily through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation and the rest manually through booking counters in passenger reservation centres. But on July 26, out of total transactions involving popular south-bound trains 52.13 per cent was done through Internet booking.
As tickets on that particular day got booked within minutes after the reservation was opened, there were complaints from the public that the berths were allegedly cornered by groups or individuals and that there was an organised racket aimed at helping agents corner the berths and sell these for a profit.
The Passenger Merketing Cell of Southern Railway conducted a study on tickets booked on that day for Nellai, Pandiyan, Kanyakumari, Ananthapuri, Rock Fort, Pothigai, Cheran and Nilagiri Expresses.
The study revealed that the computer centre, PRS, Chennai employs very powerful high-end computers capable of processing the data at a high speed running into million of instructions per second (MIPS). With three such high-speed computers, the rate of booking is quicker. The study also ascertained that the system was capable of processing 20 to 30 successful transactions per second. This means that in a minute, the PRS can do 120 to 180 transactions successfully issuing reservations to around 200 persons in a minute. The total number of berths available on the popular trains in question put together is approximately 10,000 berths on a day. At the current speed of processing, the time taken to do 10,000 successful transactions would be just 8.33 minutes.
The apprehension that the berths were cornered by agents operating through Internet (IRCTC agents) had also no basis and it was found that the total number of booking done by the IRCTC agents from July 25 to 28 pertaining to popular trains such as Nellai, Pandiyan, Kanyakumari, Ananthapuri and Rock Fort Expresses was only 106. The total number of online bookings on July 26 on all-India basis were 1,06,773 of which bookings by agents on the all-India basis were 25,950. Those pertaining to these popular trains were only 106 out of 25,950 tickets.
The study also found that within three minutes all confirmed tickets were booked in Pandiyan Express to Madurai, within 7 minutes in Cheran Express to Coimbatore, within 9 minutes in Nellai Express to Tirunelveli, and Rock Fort Express to Tiruchi, 10 minutes in Nilgiris Express to Mettupalayam, and Pothigai Express to Sengottai, 13 minutes in Pearl City Express to Tuticorin, and within 17 minutes in Anathapuri Express to Trivandrum.
As all tickets have been booked for popular trains running from October 24 to 25, the only alternative available to rail passengers is “Tatkal booking” or special trains, likely to be announced by the administration later.