Mumbai : Whatever may be the number of holiday specials, ultimately it is touts who will call the shots and grab away the major chunk, leaving the families and lone travellers, who do not seek their help, helpless.

On Wednesday, as usual, Central Railway (CR) general manager Subhodh Jain announced that it will be running ‘Holiday Specials’ to deal with the summer rush. The booking for these specials will start from March 26.

Usually, announcement is done in April but this year it came early as Holi falls on March 27 and it is believed that holiday mood starts with the festival of colours.

Though common belief is that families will be benefited, touts are also waiting for the holiday season to kick off.

Anis Khan, a railway activist and who has been trying to fight the tout menace, said, “During holidays, if one ticket per person costs about Rs 500, the touts will charge you Rs 2,000 per ticket,”

“The CR has installed CCTV cameras at major ticket counters like Chattrapathi Shivaji Terminus, Dadar Terminus and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus; we need a biometrics system that records the touts’ fingerprints,” opined Khan

“Many touts book tickets at CST, then go to Dadar and then to LTT; so there is no way of knowing how many tickets have been booked by one man in a day,” said Khan.

“They do not book tickets in pairs, in threes or fours, they book for minimum around six people, so if your family has four members during the ticket-booking, the tout will add two people to your booked ticket,” elaborated Khan.

“The problem is that no strict action is taken against them,” said Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh’s deputy president, Subhash Gupta.

“The Railway Police Force should be more vigilant during this period as this is the most lucrative season for touts,” added Gupta.

With regard to Tatkaal tickets, Khan said, “Many a time, you will see touts standing with three to four forms and booking all of them at once, whereas one person can book only one Tatkaal ticket at a time,”

“It is not easy to detect a tout as he pays commission to the man at the ticket counter; the RPF personnel are supposed to identify and take action against such unscrupulous elements,” said Khan.

“I have always used a tout to book my tickets during the holiday season although I know it isn’t the right thing to do,” said Manisha Chitale (29), who resides in Vikhroli and teaches in private classes.

“I know there will be a lot of people wanting the same ticket and a tout ensures that I get that,” said Chitale.

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