The Central Railway is looking to simplify the ticketing system by instituting coin-and-cash ticket vending machines across itssuburban railway stations. But spending on programmes to keep the machines from accepting counterfeit currency has escalated the cost.
Of the Rs 10 lakh spent on each of the machine, scanners and software meant to prevent it from accepting fake notes cost close to Rs 6.5 lakh. One such machine has been installed for trial at the ‘Star Chamber’ booking counter at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
“The scanners installed in these machines would identify whether the currency notes are genuine. If not, the machine would throw the notes out,” said a senior CR official on condition of anonymity.
The officials claim that the scanner will safeguard the machines against fraud. Presently most shopkeepers and ticket vendors at railway stations, movie theatres and stores manually check notes in the denomination of 500 and 1,000 to see if they areauthentic.
A person needs to insert coins or notes amounting to the exact fare of the rail ticket into the machine. Then they must feed in the destination station following which the ticket will be printed. The machine at CST mentions the steps to be followed to generate a ticket.
Sources said the presentation by the Center for Railway Information System (CRIS) revealed that if money more than the fare value is inserted, the machines wouldn’t refund the balance change to the passenger. They also claimed that the procedure with 8-10 steps is tedious. Another glitch is that the machine at CST doesn’t accept Rs 2 coins. Officials want these flaws to be rectified.
The CR wants slab-based tickets to be issued and cut down the number of steps. Their suggestion is that the separate machines should be set up for various fare slabs, with the station names and routes mentioned clearly, so commuters find them easier to handle.
Officials claimed that the Railway Board has given a nod for procuring 650 such machines, to which the railways want to make changes.
The demand for the machines is low even though an attendant helps passengers operate it. Commuters still prefer to stand in queues and buy tickets from ticket window.
More ATVMs at stations
By the end of March, more than 400 automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) will line up the suburban stations of the Central railway. This is part of their scheme to get a total of 900 such ATVMs. Presently, there are nearly 200 such machines on CR’s suburban section, out of which many are being replaced as they have exceeded their operational life or are need maintenance. Nonetheless, the demand for ATVMs is on a rise, with more than 18 per cent of the total ticket sales carried out through them.