SHUTTERS DOWN: The counter near Kutchery Road, Ranchi, last week. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The sole city counter of South Eastern Railway (SER), Ranchi division, near Kutchery Chowk, which used to issue general or unreserved tickets, is out of action for over a year. Don’t believe the signboard that claims otherwise.
No one has bothered to remove the signboard that reads “dakshin purvi railway jansadharan ticket booking”.
Last week, Pithoria resident Sudarshan Mahto discovered the signboard was misleading the hard way.
He wanted to buy an unreserved ticket for the Jasidih-bound Ranchi-Baidyanathdham Express (13320), which departs from Ranchi station at 1.25pm.
“A friend told me I could buy a ticket from the city counter near Kutchery. So I got down at Ratu Road bus stand around noon, took a rickshaw to the booking counter, read the signboard and then discovered the service has stopped,” Mahto said, adding he then hurried to the station.
S.K. Dwivedi, who owns the Kutchery counter, said he had taken the franchisee to book general tickets from SER, Ranchi division, in 2009.
“I am sorry for not removing the signboard,” Dwivedi told The Telegraph.
“But it is a fact that for over a year we have stopped issuing general tickets,” he confirmed.
Asked why, he said: “It was not profitable from any angle. We earned Re 1 from every ticket sold from here. On any given day, not more than 100 tickets were sold from the counter. It meant earnings of around Rs 100 per day.”
To add to this, a clause that hit him below the belt was that of surrendering wrongly printed tickets to railway authorities at Ranchi station by noon of the following day.
According to Indian Railways norms, a ticket seller must return a wrongly generated ticket to the nearest railway station by noon of the following day.
Failing that, he must pay a fine of Rs 50,000.
“Say, a person wants a ticket for Lohardaga, but by mistake, my staff at the counter issues one for Muri. The customer will demand and get his correct ticket and leave. But the headache of submitting the wrong ticket to the railway authorities at the station before the next noon will fall on me,” Dwivedi said.
He added that if he didn’t return the ticket on time, he would have to shell out a hefty Rs 50,000 to the railways as penalty, no matter how cheap the original ticket was.
When contacted, Arjun Mazumdar, assistant commercial manager of SER, said they would set up a new ticket counter somewhere near the railway station.
“I will also ask Dwivedi to remove the signboard,” Mazumdar said.
For now, with the closure of the centrally located Kutchery kiosk, one has to trudge all the way to Ranchi station and queue up to buy general or unreserved train tickets.
Indian Railways IRCTC online train reservation facility is valid only for reserved tickets. Being a netizen won’t help if one has to buy a general ticket.