Even as LTT gears up for railway minister’s visit for announcements and inaugurations, real concern of non-functioning ticket vending machines continues to be ignored
Yet another inauguration, yet more announcements, supposedly for passengers. That’s what is on the cards today when railway minister Suresh Prabhu visits Kurla’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT). But there’s also something else that was heavily advertised and launched for passengers and is currently rusting away into oblivion - Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs). Both western and central railways are struggling to maintain these machines that were introduced to reduce queues at stations.
More than 20 per cent of ATVMs on both CR and WR aren’t functioning. On CR, of the total 650 on its CST-Karjat/Kasara/Panvel sections, 185 are non-functional, rendering the Smart Card not such a smart option, after all, for the 76 lakh suburban commuters.
On WR’s Churchgate-Dahanu route, of the 457 ATVMs, 122 machines are crying for repairs and maintenance.
And due to lack of sufficient alternatives, there’s no end to serpentine queues at ticket counters at most stations as even the cash/coin ticket vending machines have been discontinued by the railways, as they are not tamper-proof.
Officials admitted that the whole effort towards reducing queues is proving to be a waste and that they have been getting repeated complaints from commuters.
On both CR and WR, the problem seems to be malfunctioning printers and quality of paper inside the ATVMs being not up to the mark. After a ticket is printed, the ink fades and rubs off due to the paper being poor, but some officials blame the printer, which, they say, is not compatible with the ink used.
At present, 20-25 per cent of the total ticketing revenue comes from ATVMs, up from 15-17 per cent. Authorities, however, fear that the numbers might drop if these technical issues persist.
“We informed the higher-ups about the problems plaguing ATVMs, but no solution has come forth,” said a senior railway official.
Divisional railway managers (Mumbai) Mukul Jain of WR and Ravindra Goyal of CR told mid-day that they are aware about the concern regarding non-functioning ATVMs and are working towards improving the situation.
Prabhu’s agenda today
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