Buying a Central Railway suburban train ticket may soon get easier with authorities deciding to shift around 50% of the load from booking windows to smart card-operated automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) and outsourced vendors under the Jansadharan Ticket Booking Sevaks (JTBS) scheme.
CR sells nearly 9.5 lakh tickets a day, of which 55% are through the unreserved ticketing system booking windows. “The sale of tickets from booking windows has fallen from 65% last year to 55% this year. This drop shows that more commuters are using ATVMs and JTBS,” said said Narendra Patil, senior divisional commercial manager, CR. “We aim to increase the share of ticket sale by JTBS and ATVMs to 50% by the year-end.”
An earlier survey by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation had revealed that commuters’ major grouse was queues at booking windows—on CR, nearly 66% of commuters were unhappy with the ticketing system. But the situation has improved owing to the infrastructure upgrade, said officials. “In the last two months, 130 new ATVMs have been installed at stations, taking the total number of ATVMs on the Mumbai division to 385,” said Patil . More ATVMs are in the pipeline as the railway board had set a March 2013-deadline to phase out coupon validating machines (CVMs).
The sale of CVM booklets has also dropped in the last two years as people don’t prefer to stand in queues to buy them. Earlier, the CR had allowed out of-turn sale of these coupons.
A total of 164 JTBS operate on CR—a 50% rise since September 2012. Under JTBS, the railways permits shops to sell tickets and renew passes for a commission of Re 1 per person.