Tired of waiting in a queue to get a ticket at a Central Railway (CR) counter? You may not get respite soon.
For, there are 200 vacancies for booking clerks in the suburban section. Consequently, of the 428 ticket counters, only 375 are operational at the 76 surburban stations, leaving more than 50 ticket counters unused.
Subodh Jain, general manager, CR, said: "Since 2005, no booking clerk has been recruited. The Railway Recruiting Board (RRB) is responsible for the recruitment process. In 2010, we had sent the fresh requirement to the board. We are trying to resolve the problem by getting new ATVMs and fixing the old ones."
The RRB exams for booking clerks are conducted in two stages -- screening and written test. As the process takes almost a year, the CR is planning to repair and use 71 of its old ATVMs. It also plans to install 250 new machines.
Another senior official from the Mumbai division confirmed that shortage of staff is affecting the quality of services. "The administration is unable to operate ticketing windows to its full capacity," he said.
Activists feel that the railways cannot substitute ticketing windows with ATVMs. "The ATVMs have failed miserably. Increasing the number of machines would be of no help. They should rather appoint more booking clerks. As the number of trains, stations and commuters have increased, we need more people to serve them," said Anil Tiwari, transport expert.
"The cost incurred in sale of tickets over the counter is more than the actual cost of ticket," said the senior official.