Even as Central Railway is planning to add over 600 automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) to phase out the coupon vending machines (CVMs) by March 2013, it is struggling to maintain nearly 60 of the 250 existing ATVMs spread across 73 suburban stations.
Earlier, 25 to 30 machines used to show error messages, but the number touched 59 on Monday due to non-availability of staff to maintain the machines.
“We have brought this to the notice of the annual maintenance contractor (AMC), but the company is not responding,” said a senior CR official. The AMC is Excel Frontline Service Ltd, a Chennai-based firm.
The non-working ATVMs lead to longer queues, especially since passengers have to line up even for coupon tickets. “It is public harassment as we are wasting our time by standing in the queue. I waited for over 30 minutes on Monday at Govandi station, the time it would take me to reach my destination at Wadala. Before installing new ATVMs, they should repair the existing ones,” said Suresh Rawat, 29, a Govandi resident.
The recurring problem of damaged ATVMs is seen at Ambernath, Bhandup, Kurla, Kalyan, Wadala Road, Govandi and Vashi. “The issue is mostly of printer and spare-parts failure. It takes time to repair them as the parts come from Chennai. Besides, the deployed strength for maintenance by the AMC is falling short as we have installed 75 new ATVMs on far-off suburban stations,” added the official.
When contacted, TV Surendran, operations head of Excel Frontline, said, “The complaint calls have increased, but this is because some machines have become old.
Presently, 14 people are working in different shifts to attend to the ATVMs. We deploy over 10 people during peak hours, apart from two engineering experts, to attend to wear and tear.”