Skip the queue with Western Railway’s ticket kiosks

Western Railway (WR) commuters won’t need to stand in long queues at Churchgate station to buy tickets or renew their passes. WR on Friday installed two Automatic Ticketing Kiosks (ATKs) that allow commuters to buy tickets, recharge smart cards and renew season tickets in a matter of seconds. The machines, however, require commuters to tender exact fare, including currency notes and coins.

The machines have been installed on a pilot basis and will be installed at other WR stations if they are a hit with commuters. WR officials said they will observe the machines’ performance for a month.

These user-operated machines have been approved by the Centre for Railway Information, an information and technology arm of the Indian Railways. Till Friday evening, around 90 commuters had used the ATKs. A senior WR official said, “The ATKs will accept currency notes from Rs 5-500. We have requested commuters not to use the new Re 1 coin and the Rs 2 coin. The software has been designed in such a way that it will discard currency notes that are old, fake, wet, moist or mutilated.”

WR has deployed personnel with technical expertise at the kiosks. “They will guide commuters and give them step-by-step instructions on how to use the machines,” said the WR official. “There is a time out of 60 second. Each transaction must be completed within this time.”

Commuters have welcomed the move. Virar resident Vivek Pandya said, “It is good initiative but the exact fare condition can turn out to be drawback.”

A club on rails –

Train fans are as reliable as the railways they love. In 2009, the Indian Railways Fan Club (IRFCA), a website dedicated to the serious love for Indian Railways, completes two decades.

While some members document the Indian Railways photographically, others are engaged in conservation and awareness building, still others are simply here for ‘railfanning’. Sign-up costs nothing and the site itself is a huge treasure of information that will intrigue even the lay visitor, covering everything from trivia, history and technical explanations to FAQs on rolling stock databases, signalling, operations, railway zones, loco sheds and even tracks classifications, specifications and maintenance. ‘Steam in India’ has a special following of its own. Annual conventions, the latest was held in January in Bangalore, also draw great numbers of enthusiasts. So, if IRFCA is the Indian Railways Fan Club (which, as it categorically states, is not officially affiliated to the Indian Railways), what’s the additional A for? It used to be the Indian Railways Fan Club of America, where the group first started before the rapid spread of the internet turned it global. Today, one of the two biggest contingents of Indian Railways fans is from India.