Suburban train commuters at about 70 stations on both Western as well as Central Railway have to wait in long queues to buy tickets as at least 120 Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) have developed technical snags in past two months.
On CR, daily above 3 lakh (30%) and WR around 1.17 lakh (15 to 20%) suburban passengers opt for ATVMs. For these commuters, the failure of these machines means spending more time in queues outside ticket windows.
On CR nearly 70 out of 620, while on WR, 87 of the 487 machines are not functioning, admitted officials. The highest nine non -functional machines are at Andheri, while Thane has eight faulty ATVMs. Jogeshwari, Bandra, Vile Parle has six non-working ATVMs, Sion and Churchgate have four such machines and Belapur has three. Rest of the stations have one or two faulty machines.
“The machine generally develops fault during the monsoon as its printer catches moisture. We have already brought this to notice of the contactor but since it’ has imported spare parts, it is taking some time to replace it,” said senior WR official requesting anonymity.
The railways had promoted ATVMs as option for coupon validating machines (CVM) which were cheaper and popular among commuters. Commuters could use CVMs simply by buying a coupon booklet and validating required denomination of coupons in the machine. ATVMs are required to buy a card first and use it for buying tickets through the machine.
The passenger activist criticised railways for their failure in maintaining the ATVMs. “If the railway department wants to promote new ticketing technology in suburban section it should function well. Now commuters are running east to west of the station to search for functional ATVM,” said Kailash Verma, railway activist.
When contacted, Ravindra Bhakar chief public relations officer (CPRO) said, “ Total 74 out of 457 ATVMs have developed problems during monsoon due to moisture. The spare parts have been ordered from Korea. However we are ensuring that at least one functional machine is available at each station.”
When contacted, AK Singh, public relation officer (PRO) CR, said, “The repair of ATVMs is a continuous process. However, this is error is with machines of one particular company and we have informed them about the issue.”