Rail commuters stuck with defunct ATVMs

Jan 23, 2013, 07:48 IST | Shashank Rao

MiD DAY reported six months ago that 30 to 40 per cent of ATVMs were defunct on WR and CR lines; commuters still at losing end as railways yet to get problem fixed

Despite reporting last year that the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) installed at various stations on Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) are not functioning properly, the railway authorities have done nothing to resolve the issue but continue to encourage commuters to use the option to limit numbers queuing up at ticket counters.

ATVM machines
Seventy per cent of the ATVM machines have passed their five-year codal life on the Central Railway network, while 59 per cent ATVMs are close to completing five years on the WR line. File pic

The ATVMS are mostly defunct or have been powered down due as they do not function properly, having surpassed their codal life of five years. Yet the railway officials continue to appeal to the 70-lakh plus commuters to use the option though the machines barely make it through the day without breaking down.

MiD DAY had conducted a survey at various railway stations offering the option and published an article ‘ATVMs are a big waste of time’ on July 23, 2012. The CR has installed 250 ATVMs on both the Main line and Harbour line while 195 have been installed on the suburban section of the WR.

Down and out
However, around 70 per cent of these machines have passed their five-year codal life on CR, while 59 per cent WR ATVMs are close to completing five years. Though these machines undergo regular maintenance, many of them breakdown quite often. At least 30 ATVMs undergo repairs everyday.

Sources in CR said that around 175 ATVMs are almost near the five-year stage and regularly break down. The monitors of the ATVMs go blank, printers malfunction, touch screens are non-responsive or the cutters that shear off ticket stubs are blunt. “We are replacing these machines with newer and better ones. We are facing difficulties in finding spare parts for these ATVMs,” said a CR official on condition of anonymity.

Similarly, the ATVMs on the WR are in a pitiable condition. Of its 195 ATVMs, around 115 are nearing the five-years mark are awaiting replacement. “We are getting newer ATVMs to replace them,” said a WR official, adding that the situation worsens though timely maintenance work is carried out.

The WR has been experimenting with newer versions of ATVMs lately. The WR administration had introduced ATVMs that accept coins at selected stations, but this move failed to garner interest from the public, apart from the machines encountering technical issues.

Currently, there are few newer versions of ATVMs installed at stations, which commuters complain take a lot of time to process tickets and the touch screen option is not user-friendly. An ATVM installed at Churchgate station meant for recharging smart cards rarely has commuters using the option.

“Quite often, commuters end up standing in a queue to buy ticket from the counter or to refill their ATVM cards. The railways need to ensure that these machines are repaired from time to time,” said Madhu Kotian, member, Mumbai Upnagriya Rail Pravasi Sangh.

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