First day of new online train ticket system, run by Shohoz, runs into glitches

The new e-ticketing system for Bangladesh’s rail lines is at a standstill. ‘Shohoz-Synesis-Vincen JV’, the company responsible for making the system, says it is the victim of a ‘cyberattack’ on the first day of its operation.

Published : 26 March 2022, 12:29 PM
Updated : 26 March 2022, 12:29 PM

Rail authorities, however, say they have not been informed of any cyberattack.

They say the issues cropped up due to the large number of people trying to buy tickets at once.

The e-tickets went on sale at 8 am on Saturday. But, from the start, passengers began facing difficulties getting OTPs, loading websites and encountered server issues. At the time of this report, it wasn’t possible to access the website used to buy e-tickets.

Farhat Ahmed, a spokesman for Shohoz JV, said: “Our engineers are working on it. We are trying our best to restore the e-ticketing system as quickly as possible.”

Only those trying to buy tickets online are facing difficulties, Farhat said.

“This trouble is only due to online issues. There is no problem with the computer programmes at the different stations. Between Friday evening and midnight, we sold nearly 41,000 tickets at 77 stations through the computer.”

Asked about the claim of a cyberattack, Sardar Shahadat Ali, additional director general of Bangladesh Railway, said:

“This is the first I’m hearing of it. I hadn’t heard about a cyberattack. I was told there were problems this morning. We were told nearly 200,000 people tried to cut tickets at the same time and overloaded the capacity. We have told them. They are working on it.”

Nahid Hasan Khan, deputy director of Bangladesh Railway, said: “It wasn’t completely inaccessible, but it’s true that many people weren’t able to get a ticket. The previous system had a backlog of over four million registrations.”

“They need to be registered again and so there was a greater load on the server. Sometimes the server went down and then it would be up again in a bit.”

“Today’s the first day, so it’s typical to have some issues. It doesn’t mean that ticket sales are closed.”

Asked whether any fixes were being implemented, he said: “We have introduced a completely new system. The old system was running for nearly 12 years. Some problems are cropping up. We are rectifying them and I hope that these problems will be resolved soon.”

On Mar 14, Rail Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said that the old rail ticketing system run by CNS Limited would be replaced and ‘Shohoz’ would be put in charge of the new system.

Shohoz was to take over the Bangladesh Railway’s computerised ticketing system on Saturday. CNS Limited ran it until Mar 20 and then, from Mar 21 to Mar 25, it was handed over to the Bangladesh Railway. Online ticketing services were closed during this time.

The Bangladesh Railway introduced the online ticketing system in 1994. The first phase of the system was implemented in 27 stations. Currently, the computer system sells tickets for 104 inter-city trains at 77 stations.

The computer ticketing system issues 90,000 tickets a day and nearly 2.7 million tickets a month. Nearly 50 percent, or about 1.3 million is sold online or through the mobile app.

Shohoz is selling half of the tickets online. The company claims it has built a train ticketing solution in 21 days.

Shohoz, which has experience with online bus tickets, signed a five-year agreement to oversee the sale and management of train tickets.

Shohoz spokesman Farhat claims that, according to the agreement, the company was to be handed the reins to the rail ticket management software within 21 working days of the contract’s signing, but it wasn’t done properly. The app used for ticket sales was not properly explained either, he said.

Rail tickets were previously sold through CNS’s own site, but now are being sold directly from a site run by the Bangladesh Railway (