TIRUCHY: Obtaining permission to travel in large groups on trains will become easier as Railways has authorised Station Masters and Chief Reservation Officers to clear applications for bulk booking of tickets.
Hitherto, if more than 30 members were to travel as a group, the application can be cleared only by Assistant Commercial Manager (ACM), Divisional Commercial Manager (DCM) or the Chief Commercial Manager (CCM). Now, it is up to the station masters to ensure such bookings are not misused.
While the change reduces hassles for commuters, unions have voiced fears that the provision would help touts thrive. “These middle-level officers have their limitations in verifying the big group booking. Apart from this, if higher authorities spot irregularities in these bookings, it will affect the career prospects of middle-level employees,” said Mannai Manoharan, Deputy General Secretary, Dhakshin Railways Employees Union.
Senior officials dismissed these concerns. “The decision has been arrived at only after conducting a trial for six months. The Railway Board has considered suggestions from various zones before going ahead with this decision, “ an official said.
How to book
Bulk booking of tickets for those travelling for marriage, pilgrimage, sports and cultural events will be permitted even if the confirmed berths are not available, said official sources. Earlier, about 50 per cent of the total tickets in sleeper class and 33 per cent in other classes earmarked for bulk booking in all the trains.
In June, Railways temporarily removed the ceiling on an experimental basis for the period of six months. In a recent direction, the passenger reservation system (PRS) department of Southern Railways directed commercial managers of six railway divisions to permit bulk bookings without restrictions regardless of classes.
However, railway stated that those who book bulk tickets will have to approach the railways directly cannot reserve the tickets through travel agents. Bulk booking will be permitted from 9 am - an hour after the opening of reservation of advance reservation period at major locations.
While 30 per cent of the tickets in all trains is allotted under ‘Tatkal’ quota, the move is likely to reduce the availability of tickets in general category passengers, said official sources.
(With inputs from Chennai)