Citizens using the Central Railway (CR) services to commute in the city will no longer have to stand in long queues to buy tickets and renew their passes. They will soon be able to do so at a shop near their homes by paying an extra Re 1. Rail Board chairman Vivek Sahai, who was in Mumbai on Wednesday, has asked CR officials to make railway tickets and passes available at commercial shops, besides at ticket counters inside railway premises.
The initiative, which is part of the Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewak (JTBS) scheme, allows shops, medical stores, photocopy and phone booths to sell railway tickets. The commercial outlets will be selected based on a tender process and the shopkeepers selling the tickets will levy a service charge of Re 1.
The service is expected to help commuters, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, which will help them save time by avoiding the long queues at ticket windows. At present, on a daily basis, around 3,000 tickets are sold at one ticket window. The plan is to bring down this number to reduce the serpentine queues.
“If we tap shops and other commercial outlets for sale of tickets, it would automatically reduce the queues at ticket windows and at the same time bring down the burden on the railways to attend so many people at the same time,” said a senior CR official.
These shops will need to have a computer, printer, a MTNL/BSNL internet connection, and relevant documents proving that the shop is either owned or rented by the owner.
Officials from CR would then visit the shops interested in taking up the initiative to check availability of these requirements before allowing them to sell tickets.
Once selected, the shops would be supplied with numbered ticket rolls and other paraphernalia necessary to print tickets.
The number of ticket booking windows at each railway station would determine the number of shops in that area, which would sell tickets. “The number of shops having the facility would be 75 per cent of the total number of ticket windows at the nearest railway station. These shops will have to deposit the total collection made in a day with the station allotted to them,” added the CR official.
The JTBS scheme was introduced in September 2008, but it received lukewarm response with only 12 shops showing interest. At that time, the railways selected areas from where the shops should belong, which would be at least a kilometer away from the station. “Some amendments have been now. We would be selecting at least 48 new shops in the coming tender,” said S Mudgerikar, chief PRO, CR.