The irregularities were found at 10 to 12 smaller stations in the Northern Railway zone where passengers had come to reserve train tickets for east and north bound trains for Dussehra, Diwali and Chhath puja.
"The fraud was detected at Haridwar, Nazibabad, Meerut, Kotdwar, Modinagar, Gurgaon, Badgam, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Ambala and Ferozepur. There is a heavy rush from these regions during the festive season for east-bound destinations such as Bihar, West Bengal and eastern UP," said a senior official of Northern Railways' commercial department.
"We found that errant railway clerks had booked multiple tickets between 8 am and 8.02 am," the official added.
Meanwhile, the railways anti fraud team also caught 354 passengers who were travelling with illegally transferred tickets. They also caught 33 frauds and five unauthorised agencies engaged in illegal reservation of tickets.
The railways commercial department with vigilance and security wings jointly launched an investigation drive to detect such illegal reservation and said that the drive will continue till the Chhath rush gets over.
Meanwhile, the chargesheeted staff can face suspension and even dismissal from service if the charges are serious. The investigation was in the wake of CAG audit report where CAG had claimed that the tatkal and advance reservations which are meant to benefit genuine commuters during times of heavy rush, are "susceptible to manipulation".
"On receiving complaints, we checked some ticket reservation counters and considering that a manual ticket would require at least a minute to generate, the fact that multiple PNRs were generated within two minutes of the counter being opened by a particular booking clerk, hints at manipulation. We have been able to nab about 15 of them in a weeklong exercise so far and the number may rise till the Chhath festival gets over. In summer rush this year, we had booked 123 such errant clerks," a senior official said.