South Eastern Railway is going to walk the path of ‘outsourcing’ to open ticket counters in 60 stations.
According to railway sources, the process of hiring the agency is almost at the final stage. The Kharagpur Division has already completed the bidding process for opening 64 ticket counters in 60 stations and reserved seats.
Why ‘outsourcing’? According to railway sources, multiple ticket counters at many stations have been closed for many years due to lack of staff. Passengers have protested more than once in many places demanding opening of counters.
Apart from that, there are allegations of ticket counters being closed after arresting passengers without tickets at different times. According to a railway statistic, the tendency to travel by train without buying a ticket is increasing. In May this year, the Kharagpur Railway Division earned a total of 8 crores 26 lakhs by identifying passengers without tickets. In the same month last year, the railways collected Rupees 12 lakhs from the ticketless passengers due to corona. But before Corona, in May 2019, Kharagpur Railway Division had collected only Rupees 3.71 crore by arresting passengers without tickets.
Rajesh Kumar, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Kharagpur Railways, said: “The collection of fines from ticketless passengers has increased by 222 per cent this time as compared to May 2019. This trend of passengers is definitely frightening.” According to railway sources, it is costly to open closed ticket counters by hiring its own staff. Apart from that, it will take a lot more time in this case. So the ticket counter will be opened through ‘Outsourcing’.
Tenders were sought for opening 18 counters in 17 stations including 2 in Jhargram, Ghatshila, Digha, Medinipur, Hijli, Belda, Jaleswar, Nandakumar in ‘Non Sub-urban’ branch of Kharagpur division. Similarly, Railways is seeking applications for 46 counters at 43 stations in the ‘sub-urban’ branch including Tikiapara, Dashnagar, Andul, 2 in Bauria, 2 in Uluberia, Kolaghat, Haur, Khirai, Balichak, 2 in Giri Maidan, Tamluk, Mahishadal, Haldia. The condition was that the agency would be given to the local people. Railways will pay two to four percent dividends for this. The agency will run the ticket counter by hiring staff.
435 applications have been received for 64 counters in sixty stations. However, no application has been submitted for the Bankranayabaz station. The senior divisional commercial manager said, “We want to increase the number of ticket counters. So this is being outsourced. Passengers will get tickets at the fixed price of the railways. The agency will run the counters only by hiring staff. It will also increase employment. Passenger ticketing facilities will also increase.”
It was high time for the railways to take this important step. People have literally taken the ticketing process granted and most of them do not bother to buy tickets because of numerous closed counters even after getting arrested or fined for the same. According to railways, this step will surely help people to purchase tickets even if they are in a hurry.