GENERICO.ruEconomicsThe shortage of train tickets to the south turned out to be artificial: intermediaries are to blame

The shortage of train tickets to the south turned out to be artificial: intermediaries are to blame

Prices for compartments reach several tens of thousands of rubles

The season of mass demand for train tickets, especially to resort regions, has begun. For many passengers, the matter turned into an unpleasant surprise: it is impossible to purchase tickets online even at 8:00 on the opening day of sales, 45-60 days in advance. Employees of offline ticket offices and passenger companies interviewed by MK explained the reason for the current situation and suggested tactics for purchasing tickets that would give maximum effect.

Prices in compartments reach several tens of thousands of rubles

As MK managed to find out, the shortage of railway tickets (especially to the south during the holiday season) has partly objective reasons, but is partly caused by a special kind of ticket speculators. First, about the first: against the backdrop of flights to the southern airports of Russia (including Krasnodar and Simferopol) suspended since February 2022, the railway has become a virtual monopolist of regular transportation to the country’s Black Sea resorts. At the same time, the railway workers do not have a sufficient number of cars and “lines” for scheduled trains to “carry” the millionth passenger traffic to the south in the summer.

“Old passenger cars are scheduled to be taken out of service and written off for disposal,” an employee of the passenger car depot of the Moscow Railway told MK. – In the last year, fewer cars have been sent for cutting than before, because everything that can move and has documents of validity is included in the train work. But there are still not enough cars.

According to MK's interlocutor, the number of cars in a passenger train is also limited by the length of passenger platforms at stations where the train stops: unlike the middle of the last century, disembarking passengers outside equipped platforms is now prohibited. So, if, for example, the platforms on a given route can accommodate no more than 18 cars, that’s exactly how many will be on the train – it won’t work anymore.

— But really now you can see very strange and rather shabby carriages, the kind they avoided putting on trains even five years ago,” concluded the depot employee. – The most interesting thing is that the carrier is in no hurry to sharply increase the order of new cars: as soon as the southern airports open, and this is still considered inevitable, passenger traffic will drop again and the cars will be unnecessary.

So, there are actually fewer tickets available than there are people willing to leave. But how is it that just a couple of minutes after the start of sales for a given date, there are no more tickets in the official application? It turns out that this could not have happened without artificial intelligence, which is put at the service of intermediaries, and de facto ticket speculators.

– Recently, one of the intermediary portals launched a pre-order option: you can book a ticket for a date for which sales have not yet opened, and a special “sniper” bot will purchase them using your passport data exactly at the moment sales begin. Formally, this is not a resale of tickets; nothing can be done about it, the ticket office employees at Moscow stations shrug their shoulders.

A service of this kind really exists – and as it becomes more famous, there are fewer and fewer tickets on open sale to scarce destinations. As passengers who have already used the portal for such pre-order of tickets told MK, the intermediary does not provide any guarantees against “overbooking” (this is what they call in aviation when more tickets are sold for a flight than there are seats on board). If someone prepays for a ticket and does not get it for one reason or another, the intermediary will simply return the money along with his commission…

It turns out that we are talking about the fact that buying tickets to popular destinations during the season simply at the box office or online, for a nominal price, is just as fantastic as tickets to the Bolshoi Theater. Let us add that in most cases it is still possible to “leave for any money” – only the price tag turns out to be completely inhumane, several tens of thousands of rubles for seats in “suites”…

One of the “Covid” ones is partly to blame for the excitement measures introduced in 2020: then they made it easier and cheaper to return tickets, and as a result, the most cunning passengers began to book several tickets in advance and return unnecessary ones at the last moment. Such tickets need to be “caught” in the last few days before the train – however, dynamic pricing in this case will not please buyers.

In such a situation, it is most effective to try to buy tickets on the day sales open in the morning at ticket offices at train stations, they advise cashiers. For offline sales, as a rule, special quotas apply. In addition, on many “resort” trains, part of the tickets towards Moscow is allocated for sale through traditional ticket offices in the south (although now this rule is not absolute). In other words, the situation with train tickets, unexpectedly for many, returned to Soviet realities: they have to storm the ticket office, and without a guarantee of success.

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