Passenger harassment in Compulsory Online Railway ticketing system

Bangladesh railway
Due to the outbreak of the Corona epidemic, public transport is limited across the country. After being closed for about 66 days from March 31, the train service has started gradually on different routes.

Along with different covid-19 safety rules, there has been a change in the ticketing system. Now hundred percent tickets are being sold online instead of the station counters.

A recent notification from the Ministry of Railways has banned the transfer of railway tickets. In other words, only certain person can travel against the ticket bought from online through the national id card. No one else will be able to travel on that ticket. In this case, a fine equal to the ticket rate, even three months imprisonment has been provided for violating the rules. Under the new rules, a person cannot travel by train more than twice a week.

Simply, people are encouraged to buy their own tickets through apps or websites, and are discouraged from traveling on tickets purchased by others.

Ticket black market is a long standing problem of Bangladesh Railway. Apart from various festivals, black marketeers also sell tickets at high prices during normal times. Although operations were conducted against them at different times, the results were zero. It is clear that there is direct cooperation of a class of dishonest officials and employees of the railways.

The question remains as to how useful these restrictions will be if the violence of corrupt officials and employees cannot be stopped.

It is not clear whether the decision to sell hundred percent of railway tickets online is just for the Corona period, or all the time. Before the Corona outbreak, 80 percent of railway tickets were sold through station counters and 20 percent of the tickets were sold online.

Hundred percent of tickets are sold online in different countries of the world. From that view, the Ministry of Railways can get applause. But in this case it is necessary to remember that, not all citizens of our country have the ability to use online or mobile apps yet. Many of the uneducated, semi-educated and elderly people are not yet accustomed to using smartphones.

The question remains whether this huge population will refrain from traveling by railway if the new rules of the railways come into force.

Bangladesh railway beautiful scenery

There is also a lack of clear guidance on how to buy a ticket for a large family at the same time for all or what is the travel procedure for passengers below 18 years of age. In addition, if a person needs to travel more than twice a week, there is no solution given by them.

Already a new business of selling online tickets has sprung up in various shops including photocopy shops and photo studios to the detriment of the common people. Recently, various media outlets have been talking about the suffering of ordinary passengers buying tickets.

There are various complications in obtaining and re-issuing national id cards. Carrying a compulsory national id card on railway travel is therefore linked to the readily available method of obtaining it. If the National Identity Card is easily available, it is possible to ensure its compulsory use in all cases.

Railway is an affordable and essential service for the common people of the country. The vast majority of the people in the country depend on the railways for their transportation. A nationwide campaign is needed before implementing a fully online ticketing system.

The question remains as to whether any direct research was conducted prior to this decision. If the availability of tickets is not ensured, this initiative of the railways will end in failure.

An integrated initiative is needed to curb the ticket black market. The dishonest officials and employees of the railways involved in the black market have to be identified. Railways should bring its own officials and employees under the law to prevent corruption. In this regard, the law enforcement agencies have to take firm steps.

To prevent illegal passenger transport, a list of passenger names and id cards has to be handed over to the railway attendants. If the attendants match the id cards with the list, it is possible to stop the blackers completely.

Suffering from getting tickets for this cheapest and most popular mode of transportation is not desirable. The process of getting tickets should be easy and people friendly. Everyone from a poor farmer in the village to a rich person must be guaranteed to get a ticket. The authorities need to ensure that these measures taken to curb the black market do not cause any suffering to the ordinary people.

Anik Ahmed
Anik Ahmed
Student, Department of Law
Rajshahi University, Bangladesh.

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