The Western Railway (WR) on Tuesday revived its ticket coupon validating machine scheme by beginning to install 107 brand new coupon machines at suburban stations and pumping lakhs of coupon booklets into circulation.
Commuters had complained that the machines installed at railway stations on WR had not been maintained and there were lack of enough coupon booklets in circulation. The WR has now promised that this time the machines will be maintained well.
"The problem was that the earlier company responsible for maintenance of the machines did could not handle the project it properly. But we have now sorted out the issue and this time appointed a new company, which should fare well in maintaining the machines at all stations," Mumbai divisional railway manager Satya Prakash said.
"In fact the contract for maintenance of machines had expired in 2003. We had then floated a tender and now things are back in place with a fresh contract to help maintain machines regularly," he said.
"The new machines will solve problems of lakhs of commuters and within the next 10 days all suburban stations shall have the brand new machines installed and activated," WR’s chief public relations manager Pranai Prabhakar said.
The Central Railway (CR) has coupon machines that have been working. "There are about 150 machines on CR. Ninety per cent of the machines on CR are working. A handful belonging to a particular company have been lying defunct, but there are no major complaints from CR commuters on coupon vending machines," Ranjit Singh Virdi, CR’s divisional manager said.
Tickets by SMS?
An city-based NGO Mumbai Environmental Social Network (MESN) has worked out a project for commuters to buy local train tickets by sending an SMS. "We have forwarded the proposal to the railways and waiting an approval," MESN Chairman MESN told HT at a transport seminar on Tuesday.
"The system enables passengers to send an SMS to railways through a dedicated short code indicating the station from and to and the commuter ID (that he would get when he deposits a certain amount through a pre-paid system of revenue collection).
The commuter would then get a SMS reply indicating ticket number, originating station and destination and date and time", he said. A top railway official, however, said, "We are working on a similar proposal having pre-paid smart cards for suburban locals. The same cards that are used for BEST will work on railways in a few months time."