In an attempt to fend off touts and illegal ticket booking agents who use software to make bulk or block reservations, Indian Railways is working to make passport and Aadhaar card details mandatory at the time of online booking.
Instead of simply logging in with a username and password, either of these government documents which is a valid identity document will be compulsory before a person logs into the website.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been finding it tough to check touts from misusing its website for booking train tickets.
“We are working with IRCTC to make documents like Aadhaar card and passport mandatory for logging in. Work on adding Aadhaar card is in the final stages,” said Arun Kumar, DG, Railway Protection Force.
The touts usually use software that expedites the booking of rail tickets. Sources say such software, at times, can book 10-15 tickets in a minute, while for a regular user, this process takes much longer. The tickets, grabbed in bulk by touts, by giving false names of passengers is then sold at premium rates.
The RPF expects to have the Aadhaar card linkage fed into the system at the earliest. They are also in talks with authorities to link passports as well. With these measures, the Indian Railways intends to weed out touts. The system will show the Aadhaar card and passport number of the person booking tickets and help authorities identify frequent and illegal users.
The Indian Railways also proposes to increase punishment for touts. The RPF has arrested over 14,250 touts from 2018 till May this year. For this purpose, amendments in the Railway Act are being made, with stringent sections, longer term of punishments proposed and denying easy bail to touts.
Since 2019, the RPF has been tracking illegal software used by touts. More than 250 illegal users have been arrested and 21 software and web extensions have been disrupted. The future journey tickets worth Rs 28.34 crore were seized between 2018 and May 2021.