November 20, 2015
Public are now used to withdrawing money from ATMs, but not railway tickets from The ATVMs (Automatic Ticket Vending Machines). Hence, it has not served the purpose of reducing the queue waiting in front of the manual unreserved counters. This is the inference one can draw from the feedback obtained at Coimbatore Junction.
The Salem Division commissioned 15 ATVMs in nine major railway stations and Coimbatore got three, to be operated on a trial basis. The ATVM works this way – People should buy a smart card for Rs. 100. They should insert the smart card and the cost of the ticket in cash inside the machine. The ATVM will dispense the ticket with the change.
ATVMs accept coins in the denominations of Rs. 5 and Rs.10, and notes in the denominations of Rs.5 to Rs.1,000. The machine will dispense the entire cash (notes and coins) if the transaction fails. Transaction should be completed within defined time. Currency notes and coins should be inserted one by one when the cash acceptor indicator turns ‘green’. Cash should not be inserted when the acceptor is in ‘red’.
This facility, however, does not seem to have been used efficiently by the travelling public. The assumption is that, they are not aware of it. Or, they might think that these tickets cost more. Also, the machine does not dispense reserved tickets, which many people visit the station to buy.
Southern Railway appointed retired railway staff to guide people in collecting tickets using the smart card. The five percent bonus value added to the smart card at the time of recharge is an added advantage for purchase of unreserved tickets (passenger, express and super fast) platform tickets, renewal of season tickets, which also gives the value addition of a concession of five per cent on the ticket value.
N. Chandran, ATVM facilitator says: “This system is not at all a big hit in Coimbatore. In five hours, only over 200 people use the machine to buy tickets. This system has not reduced the long queues standing in front of unreserved ticket counters. There are two ATVMs at the entrance of the railway station, and one at the backside entrance. Still, travellers prefer to buy tickets only from the counter. Even educated people are not comfortable using the machine.”
According to A.D. Prakash Mohan, Chief Commercial Inspector, only 260 smart cards have been issued in the last six months. They were trying to create awareness by distributing pamphlets.
“We are expecting another 10 machines for Coimbatore,” says N. Sayileela, Supervisor of Coimbatore Central Railway Station.
A. Manoj, social worker believes that people think that machine tickets would be more expensive than the ones issued at counters. “These machines are just additional booking centres that would ease the queue at counters. Also, the unreserved ticket counter at the backside entrance is underutilised as many people are not aware of it. This leads to overcrowding at the counters in the front,” he adds.