More than 35 days after demonetisation of high-value notes, none of the cash/coin operated Ticket Vending Machines (CoTVM) at Mumbai’s suburban stations are accepting the new currency.
This has forced scores of commuters to stand in serpentine queues at railway ticket windows, to buy train tickets or recharge their smart cards.
The reason is that the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the information technology wing of the Indian Railways, has failed to recalibrate these machines, bought for reducing lines on ticket windows.
Installed at major stations like CST, Dadar, Kalyan, Virar, Borivli besides others, the number of CoTVMs on both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) is 180. Of those 110 are on CR, while rest 70 are on WR.
Commuter groups are upset with the delay in recalibration of these machines and questioned why CRIS requires so much time when the banks completed the same process within a week after demonetisation announcement.
“There is chaos across the country over demonetisation and Mumbai suburban commuters are also suffering due to it. Despite this, the CoTVM machines have not been updated. Are CRIS officials sleeping?” asked Subhash Gupta, an activist.
Currently, the machines accept coins of Rs 5 and Rs 10 and notes of the denomination of Rs 5 to Rs 100 only. A senior CR official said the machines now do not accept old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.
WR officials said they faced several issues due to lack of timely recalibration of CoTVM. Facing a similar problem, Mumbai division of WR had suspended operation of the machines for several days in last month.
Earlier this year, Indian Railways was forced to suspend operation of these machines for over 75 days for avoiding misuse of the machines, after a fraud using the machines was unearthed at Pune.
Meanwhile, CRIS officials in Mumbai are tight lipped over the issue and are pointing fingers at their headquarters in Delhi. A CRIS official said even they do not know when the CoTVM upgradation process will be completed as it is managed from Delhi.
Sources said the CRIS needs to change both software as well as hardware of the machines to make them accept the new notes.
On October 9, 2015, Prabhu had launched these ticketing kiosks. Unlike yellow-blue colour Automatic Ticket Vending Machines, popularly known as ATVM, the Silver-Blue touch screen CoVTM allows commuters to buy ticket using cash and coins, besides smart cards.
Besides booking unreserved card and season tickets, one could by platform tickets and recharge smart cards as well.
Each of these touch screen based machines is worth Rs 7.5 lakh. The machine has 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 exact amount of cash within 60 seconds, after selecting ticket details on the screen.
Using the machines passengers can purchase four unreserved card tickets at a time, while just one season ticket and platform ticket could be booked at a time. Commuters can load amount up to Rs 5,000 on the smart cards and they get 5 percent bonus on the recharged value.
Central Railway to get card swiping machines
The Central Railway (CR) will install around 600 credit and debit card swipe machines in phases to mitigate post demonetisation effect announced on November 8, this year. So far 34 swipe machines have been installed at 7 suburban stations, which include CST, Dadar, LTT, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Byculla and Chembur.
“We are aiming to install 620 swipe machines across the suburban section in phases. In the first phase, swipe machines will be installed at all long distance ticket booking counters, whereas in the next phase it will be installed at suburban ticketing counters also,” said Ravindra Goyal, divisional railway manager (DRM), Central Railway Mumbai division.