Railways' trial ticketing system fails to gather steam

The cash/coin ticket vending machines installed at Churchgate station and CST, which were on trial for the past six months, have been uninstalled due to poor response from commuters. Meanwhile, Minister of Railway, Suresh Prabhu, inaugurated a new mobile ticketing system yesterday

A new mobile ticketing system was inaugurated by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at Dadar station yesterday. Commuters can now download an application on their smartphones and book a ticket by following the steps. Prabhu told sunday mid-day, “We want to reduce the queue at the ticket counters and this new system is the way forward.”

Meanwhile, another ticketing system, which involved the cash/coin ticket vending machines, was removed after six months of trials. The machine at Churchgate Station was removed a few months ago, while the one at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) was uninstalled recently.

“The machines were installed on a trial basis over the past six months, but we have uninstalled them to make some improvements,” said a senior Central Railway official, on condition of anonymity.

Too many issues
According to sources, the long procedure required by the machine for generating a ticket put off most commuters, who had to insert either notes or coins in them. The machine would reject a note if it was crumpled. Another problem was that the machine did not return the change back to the commuters.

The railways observed that, in spite of long queues at ticket windows at railway stations and the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM), commuters rarely used the cash/coin ticket vending machine, installed at the cost of R10 lakh per machine. Later, a person was appointed to assist commuters generate the tickets, but that, too, failed to generate an encouraging response.

The way ahead
“We have identified a few issues apart from simplifying the working of the machine,” said a rail official. A provision is being made for the machine to return the balance. The number of steps taken to issue a ticket will also be reduced. A special reader, costing approximately R6 lakh, will be installed to detect counterfeit notes.

Railway officials added that once the improvements have been made, they will not be installed on Foot Over Bridges and stations which are not frequented by many commuters. After the changes, the railways will procure around 100 of these cash/coin vending machine and install them across various railway stations on Central and Western railways by early next year.

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