COTVMs are back at Mumbai's railway stations, and costlier

Despite lukewarm response, Railways installs costlier new Cash/Coin Operated Ticket Vending Machines, capable of detecting fake currency

Insert a currency note or coin in the new Cash/Coin Operated Ticket Vending Machine (COTVM) at railway stations, and out comes a train ticket. But, feed it fake currency, and it promptly dishes it back out to you. The cost of spotting this difference is a cool Rs 5.5 lakh.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu inaugurated the new COTVM on Friday in Delhi and Mumbai. It comes with a special hardware that detects fake and soiled notes. It will reject even glued, taped and coloured notes.

The downside, of course, is that the detector has added an additional cost of R3.5 lakh to the vending machine, raising its cost to Rs 8.5 lakh. COTVMs have been installed at CST, Dadar, Kurla LTT, Churchgate and Mumbai Central.

Western Railways will have 70 machines while Central Railway will get 100 machines within one year. Officials said that the device, similar to the ones that banks use, contains a unique screening frame that reads currency notes.

If the feel of the note is not according to set norms, the detector rejects it. Commuters are thus expected to keep their notes crisp. However, the fussy and expensive technology comes after a dull trial period.

The railways — both Central and Western — had installed COTVMs at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Churchgate stations on trial basis in December 2013. Sources say, back then, the machine cost only Rs 3 lakh but couldn’t determine if a currency note or coin was fake or not.

The trial lasted six months, with few users and no incidents of fake currency being reported. “We uninstalled the earlier machines to make improvements,” said a senior Central Railway official.

According to sources, the long procedure required by the machine for generating a ticket put off most commuters. The machine would reject even crumpled notes. Another problem was that the machine did not return change. The Railways don’t seem to have learned their lesson.

They have listed ‘Do’s and Dont’s’ on top of the COTVMs, including that only the Gandhi series of currency notes will be accepted while the old ‘Ashok stambh’ printed currency will be rejected.

This machine will issue first and second class journey tickets on suburban rail and non-concessional second class tickets for non-suburban trains. One can also get platform tickets, renewal of season tickets, recharge of smart cards.

What’s accepted
Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1000. Rs 5 and Rs 10 coins will also be accepted while Rs 1 and Rs 2 will not be permitted

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