Eid train tickets: sold out online, long lines at stations

Just like in pre-pandemic times, tourists are rushing to get tickets at Kamalapur railway station ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. The people pictured waiting to buy tickets have their trip scheduled for April 27. The photo was taken yesterday. Photo: Amran Hossain

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Just like in pre-pandemic times, tourists are rushing to get tickets at Kamalapur railway station ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. The people pictured waiting to buy tickets have their trip scheduled for April 27. The photo was taken yesterday. Photo: Amran Hossain

It was 12:35 p.m. Some 15 to 20 people were waiting at the office of the Kamalapur station manager, Masud Sarwar. But he wasn’t there.

They were all looking for tickets for the Kurigram Express yesterday, the first day of presale of Bangladesh Railway train tickets ahead of Eid.

They were all asking almost the same questions. Why wouldn’t they get tickets even after spending almost an entire night at the station? Why did online ticket sales end within a minute of the day’s sale opening?

A railway employee failed to convince them by giving them some explanations. At one point, a railway official, Nirapatta Bahini, asked them to leave the office.

“You can do it [send people out]. You can even use truncheons against us. But you can’t find a solution to this problem,” said an overworked youngster.

This newspaper spoke with two of the ticket applicants.

One of them is Shanto, a BBA student from a private university. He said he and his friends had been trying to collect online tickets for Rangpur for the past four days but to no avail.

He reached the airport station at 5 a.m. on Friday and waited four and a half hours, but was unable to buy a single ticket for April 26.

Shanto and a friend of his went to Kamalapur on Saturday evening at midnight. He stood 80th in a line of several hundred people. Most of them opted to travel by train fearing possible traffic jams on the roads during the Eid rush.

At 12:15 p.m. yesterday, authorities said Kurigram Express tickets for April 27 were sold out.

The announcement completely baffled Shanto. “Only 60 to 62 people got tickets. How is that possible?”

About 30 to 40 people were still waiting outside the Kurigram Express counter. One of them was Rashidul Islam.

When asked why he was waiting there even after the tickets for April 27 were sold out, he replied: “I came here at 5 a.m. today [yesterday]. I was 200th in line. So I didn’t go home. I will wait here until tomorrow [today] morning to get tickets for April 28.”

Uzzwal Hasan, a government employee, drove to the station at 11 a.m. from his office. He planned to wait until 8am today to buy Drutojan Express tickets to return home to the Akkelpur upazila in Joydebpur.

“I will go home with my family. To avoid possible traffic jams on the roads, I endure this pain,” said Uazzal, standing 13th in a row.

People fear that the Eid rush could cause traffic jams on a major highway that connects Dhaka to the northern region of the country as the Elenga-Rangpur highway expansion works are underway. This is why many people prefer the train to the bus to get home.

HIGH DEMAND BLAME

Advance tickets for trips to the western districts and Khulna were sold out in Kamalapur yesterday. Also, tickets were on sale at Old Phulbaria Station, Tejgaon, Cantonment and Airport Stations for different destinations.

Speaking to this correspondent, many said they couldn’t buy tickets online after trying for several hours, but found tickets were sold out about a minute after the sale started.

From Dhaka, BR sells about 27,000 advance tickets every day, 50% of which are sold online.

Masud Sarwar, Kamalapur Station Manager, told reporters that when the online sale opens at 8:00 a.m., some 500 to 700 people came to the server for a single ticket, overwhelming the server.

He, however, claimed that many passengers could buy tickets online, citing their online ticketing service provider Shohoz.

About the suffering at the counters, Masud said that a train usually has about 700 tickets, half of which are sold at the counters.

“But in some cases, 2,000 to 3,000 people are queuing for some 300 to 350 tickets. So it’s quite normal that a lot of people don’t get tickets,” he said.