To ease the pressure of ticketing at booking windows, the Central Railway (CR) will soon install 288 new automatic ticket vending machines (ATVM) at suburban railway stations. The new machines are expected to arrive in the next 45 days, said senior railway officers.
There are a total of 380 working counters on CR, which together contribute to around 58 per cent of ticket sale. Ticketing on Mumbai suburban is primarily taken care of by the unreserved ticketing system (UTS) or booking counters, ATVMs, coupon vending machines (CVM) and jan sadharan ticket booking sewaks (JTBS).
The increase in queue length at booking counters is owing to the drop in share of ticket sale through ATVMs since June.
“There is a pressure on counters, however, new ATVM machines are expected to arrive soon and ease the workload at booking counters,” said a senior railway officer. Presently, there are 382 ATVMs, of which 90 are already set to be replaced upon the arrival of the new machines. A sharp drop in the share of ATVMs to overall ticketing was reported soon after the administration disallowed railway employees in off-duty hours to sell tickets from ATVMs as facilitators.
Of the 704 facilitators, 604 were railway employees and the remaining were retired railway staff.
With the removal of 604 facilitators, the share of ATVM ticket sale fell from an average 30 per cent to 23 per cent. In October, the share has been only 16 per cent as against 62 per cent of ticketing from UTS.
With only 100 facilitators remaining, CR invited fresh applications, which saw 65 new retired employees coming forward, taking the total count to 165 now.