Last year, railway minister Suresh Prabhu launched two IT-based ticketing initiatives, of which one — mobile ticketing — failed to attract Mumbaiites, and second — coin- operated ticket vending machines( CoTVM) — were shut after they were hit by charges of fraud and technical bugs, since more than two months.
CoTVM is all set to be back in business at all stations within a week, though with less chance of any immediate improvement in mobile ticketing. The information technology backbone of the Indian Railways — Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS) — finally succeed in removing bugs and reboot these kiosks, after almost 74 days.
It likely to bring some relief to more than 75 lakh suburban and outstation train commuters, who most of the time end up spending more time at ticket windows than for the actual journey on trains. Even if some commuters shift back to these touch screen-based machines for booking unreserved tickets, it will ease long queues at ticket windows to some extent.
“Three machines were started at CST for testing purpose,” said a CR official. Uday Bobhate, general manager of CRIS, said they have updated softwares in all the CoTVMs. “Within a week, all the CoVTMs should become functional,”said Bobhate.
Installed at major stations like CST, Dadar, Kalyan, Virar, Borivli and other stations, the number of CoTVMs on both CR and WR is 180, sources said. Of those, 110 machines are on CR, while the remaining others are on WR. The CR official said that less than 5 per cent commuters were using CoTVMs for buying tickets as compared to other ticketing options.
Unlike yellow-blue Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM), the silver-blue touch screen CoVTM allows commuters to buy tickets using cash and coins, besides smart cards. Along with booking unreserved card and season tickets, one could buy platform tickets and recharge smart cards as well.
It is said that railways had discontinued the use of the machines across the country when a fraud pertaining to ticket sales through these machines was exposed at Pune. A man who had sold tickets worth lakhs of rupees was arrested in this connection. A senior official, however, said that machines had a technical bug, owing to which they were issuing tickets even after the smart card was exhausted.
Each of these machines are worth Rs7.5 lakhs. The machines has a two door-based security system for avoiding illegal access to cash and coins stored in it. It is capable of storing 25,000 notes and 3,000 coins, at a time. It does not accept soiled, torn, glued or damaged notes. For buying tickets, passengers need to insert the exact amount of cash within 60 seconds, after selecting the ticket details on the screen.
The machines accept coins of Rs5 and Rs10, and currency notes of denomination Rs5 to Rs1,000. Passengers can purchase four unreserved tickets at a time, while just one season ticket and platform ticket could be booked at a time. Commuters can recharge up to Rs5,000 on the smart cards and they get a 5 per cent bonus.