Train services are being resumed as part of the government’s decision to relax the strict lockdown
People intending to travel by trains have been in a quandary due to multiple changes in e-server ticket opening times over problems related to the server.
Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon on Monday, without mentioning any specific time, announced that all tickets for intercity trains would be available online from Tuesday afternoon as part of the government’s decision to relax the strict lockdown till July 22.
Later, the railway authorities made it known that people could buy tickets from 5pm but that also did not happen. A notification signed by Deputy Director of Railways Md Nahid Hasan Khan stated on Tuesday night that tickets would be issued from 8am.
However, when this correspondent entered the server around 7:50am he found tickets of Panchagarh express available for buying.
With the passage of time, traffic on the server started growing. The website or mobile application could not be accessed between 8am and 9am.
After 9:30am the traffic load started easing but all the online tickets for intercity trains on major routes, including Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Khulna and Panchagarh, had already been booked.
Monowar Hossain, a Rajshahi-bound passenger, found tickets available before 8am. After 8am he too could not manage to get a ticket as the payment system had collapsed, he claimed.
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“It would be safer for my pregnant sister to travel via train but I could not manage tickets. I have contacted a person affiliated with railways who told me that he could manage tickets but the price would be high,” he said.
Another commuter, Sirajul Islam, claimed that the railway authorities had caused the delay and released the tickets before scheduled time to give black marketeers an opportunity to buy the tickets.
“How can I go to my village home, Dinajpur, now? My family members have been waiting for so long; I did not go home before Eid-ul-Fitr also,” Sirajul said.
Railways Minister Sujon told Dhaka Tribune that the e-ticketing server was set to open on Tuesday but the officials concerned could not open the server in due time.
“But I do not know when the e-ticketing server opened,” he said.
“The e-ticketing server was jammed as over 3 million people visited the website and Rail Sheba application on Wednesday, where we have only 15,000 tickets available for each day,” the minister said.
He apprehended that the pressure would also be huge on Thursday.
On Wednesday morning, many people were seen complaining at the Kamalapur station manager’s office that the online ticketing server could not be accessed.
The station manager assured them that if they kept trying, they would get the tickets. The problem was due to tens of thousands of ticket seekers trying to access the server at the same time.
Kamalapur Railway Station Manager Mohammad Masud Sarwar told reporters that no ticket would be sold from the counter. As such, everyone should rest assured that they would get tickets online.
“We usually sell advance tickets a day prior to the journey; today we are set to sell tickets for four consecutive days together,” Masud said.
He added that the authorities had finished all kinds of preparations. No passenger would be allowed to enter the railway station without wearing a face mask.
Sardar Shahadat Ali, additional director general (Operation) of Bangladesh Railways could not be reached over phone for comment.
Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon said: “The trains will not take extra passengers beyond their ‘half-capacity.’ No standing-tickets will be issued,” he said.
However, when asked how they would prevent extra passengers from cramming inside or on the roof of the train, he avoided an answer, saying only: “We will try to abide by the government rules and will also try to operate trains only with passengers who have tickets. Only time will tell, let’s see what happens.”