PALAKKAD: In spite of the advanced online ticket booking facilities available for the public, the passenger reservation centres of the Railways set up by outside institutions at non-rail head centres of the state are doing brisk business.
Around 33 passenger reservation centres (PRS) have been set up under the 1000 MP-PRS scheme and they ensure ticket sales between Rs 15,000 to Rs 80,000 per day.
“A total of 11 passenger reservation centres have been commissioned under the Palakkad division from Mangalore to Pothanur, showing daily earnings upto Rs 3.71 lakh. Even the PRS at Kasargod recorded an average daily earnings of Rs 14,000”, said Palakkad divisional railway manager Anand Prakash. “The aim of the exercise was to eliminate serpentine queues at railway stations and to ensure doorstep services to passengers”, said additional divisional railway manager Mohan A Menon.
The infrastructure is provided by the franchisee while the software and printed tickets are given by the Railways. The inspections and audit are also conducted by the Railways.
The secretary of the Mannarkad rural co-operative service bank M Purushothaman said, “We were one of the first passenger reservation centres, opening one-and-a-half years ago. The nearest railway station is 45 km away and a large number of people from areas like Attappadi come here to buy train tickets. We are provided 2 per cent commission on the tickets sold and we clock sales upto Rs 20,000 on most days. For tatkal, we give tokens to people in the evening so that they can come at 10 am the next day and not waste time by standing in queues early in the morning.”
“We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the postal department for the opening of five passenger reservation centres under the Palakkad division at Kumbla, Koothuparambu, Kallachi, Thamarasseri and Sulthan Bathery. Machines with software and printed tickets will be provided by the Railways and the centres will be operated by the staff of the postal department”, said Palakkad senior divisional commercial manager P A Dhananjayan.
Under the Thiruvananthapuram division, there were proposals to open seven PRS under the postal department. A meeting has been called on August 28 in this regard, said sources.
Of the 22 passenger reservation centres opened under Thiruvananthapuram division, the licences of three at Kanjirapally, Kakkanad and the one operated by the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) in Ernakulam has been temporarily suspended due to non-remittance of money to the Railways in a timely manner and for issuing ticket through touts.
The Kodungaloor service co-operative bank PRS centre collects around Rs 80,500 per day, Kodapanakunu collects Rs 40,000 per day and Vennikulam collects Rs 50,000 per day.
Similarly, apart from the non-rail head PRS operated by agencies and institutions, there were “out agencies” granted to individuals in the six areas of Thiruvananthapuram division and three centres in Palakkad division.
Thomas Rajan, who runs the out agency at Katappana, said, “The Railways has sent a letter conveying their decision to not renew the licence which expires on August 31st. According to them, alternate arrangements were being made. It was also proposed that Thodupuzha and Adimali out-agencies be closed. We have represented our case through the Idukki MP Joice George.”
The Railways had proposed to open a postal PRS at Kumily. The Pala and Aranmula out-agencies were also not functioning. The out-agencies in the Palakkad division were in Ponnani, Kottackal and Pazhassi.
Meanwhile,the railways launched the next generation e-ticketing system last week, enhancing the booking capacity to 7200 tickets per minute as against the 2000 tickets per minute of the old system. This will enable faster booking through the IRCTC website.