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COTVMs at railway stations adds to problems

COTVMs at railway stations adds to problems
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The self operated cash cum coin ticket vending machines (COTVM) introduced at railway stations four months back are only compounding to the problem than simplifying the process of buying a ticket.

The self operated cash cum coin ticket vending machines (COTVM) introduced at railway stations four months back are only compounding to the problem than simplifying the process of buying a ticket.

  • In spite of the Automatic Ticket Vending Machines is in vogue, the introduction of swanky self operated cash cum coin ticket vending machines are only complicating matters
  • 54 COTVMs have been introduced in SCR jurisdiction in addition to the existing 299 ATVMs

In spite of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVM) that were introduced in 2012 not having many takers, the Railways introduced the COTVMs with an intention to reduce queues at ticket counters but there are still retired railway employees who work as facilitators who help passengers buy tickets.

Out of the 50,000 passengers who buy general tickets daily using ATVMs at Secunderabad railway station only 11,500 purchase tickets using smart cards. It is an indication of the lukewarm response to the machines and the response is weaker in other stations across SCR.

Several regular passengers complain that there was no need to go in for costlier COTVMs by spending extra Rs 2-4 lakhs when the ATVMs could be bought for a lower cost. 54 COTVMs were introduced in SCR recently.

A senior railway official on condition of anonymity said, “The idea of introducing COTVMs is to make passengers buy their own tickets.”

The COTVMs though look swanky but are too complicated for the average traveller. The biggest problem with the machine is a passenger needs to have the exact change to purchase a ticket and secondly when one enters the destination, the machine pops up four routes which the passenger needs to decide.

Amrit, software professional says, “Passengers get confused and are not usually in a frame of mind to decide on the spot. People just want to pay money and hop onto a train.”

People are also apprehensive of using the COTVMs and are doubtful if the money they deposit would be returned in case of cancellation.

A railway employee at Secunderabad station said, “The smart card that is used in ATVMs is far better as there is no need to run around for change and one can keep topping it up. What is needed is just to increase awareness among people.”

Ironically, the COTVMs were introduced for passengers to use all by themselves but facilitators (retired railway employees) are stationed to help people. The SCR advertised for 70 facilitator posts in Vijayawada division recently but at the same time is introducing COTVMs.

Experts in the transport industry say that it would be better off if the railways first makes the ATVMs successful. In Hyderabad there are just 500-800 smart card users in spite of the service being in use since 2012.

ATVMs

  • The smart card is like a pre-paid mobile sim card which can be initially bought for just Rs 50 and be topped up from time to time
  • Passengers need not run around for change
  • One gets a 5 per cent bonus on smart cards. What it means is a passenger can avail a 5 per cent discount on a 150 km fare
  • Once a passenger types his destination the system pops up alternate routes which makes it confusing for him to take a decision
  • Passengers need not bother on the price of a ticket as one can top up the smart card to Rs 9,500
  • ATVMs are cheaper and robust

COTVMs

  • One has to buy the ticket by cash on the spot
  • Passengers need to have exact amount and the notes should not be soiled
  • There is no such facility
  • Four routes pop up to a destination making it difficult to choose one.
  • There is no list of fare to various destinations which is a big hindrance
  • Costlier and not user friendly

By:T P Venu

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