While the railway board has been trying to phase coupon validating machines (CVM) at suburban stations, it might be a while before they are completely done away with.
CVMs are popular with passengers, comprising about 20% and 15% tickets sold on Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR) respectively.
Last May, the railway board had decided to phase out all CVMs and replace them with Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) by March end. But on the request of zonal railways, this deadline has been extended by a year, on the condition that it will be connected to the Unreserved Ticket System (UTS), to avoid misuse.
The WR has been trying to synchronise CVMs with the UTS using bar-codes, but this system failed to pass the test at the Center for Railway Information System (CRIS). “CRIS has suggested some changes in CVM that the vender is trying to incorporate,” said a WR spokesperson.
At present, there are 350 CVMs on WR and 225 on CR. After ticketing windows, it is the most popular alternative for suburban tickets.
However, in last year, the number of CVM users has decreased from 30% to 14%. Railway sources said the decision make standing in queue compulsory to buy the coupon booklets has led to this decline.
But a senior CR official claimed that while the number of CVM users has dropped, the popularity of ATVMs and the Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sevak (JTBS) is on the rise. As compared to last year, the number of ATVM users has gone up from 8% to 17% and JTBS from 0.5% to 8%.