Mangaluru, Feb 19, 2016 : Booking counters at the entrance to the Mangaluru Centaral station sees more than 2,800 footfalls every day, and about 500 of them are to buy platform tickets. Besides this, two Jan Sadharan Ticket Booking Sewak counters operate near the station. Buying tickets at the Mangaluru Central Railway Station is a horrendous task, now automatic ticketing vending machines are out of printing stationery for more than 10 days now.
With the ticket machines going inoperative queues to buy ticket at the booking counter are much longer. This counter has three personnel to issue tickets.
Sources said ticket machines were dispensing about 1,000 tickets a day, taking the burden off the station booking counter. "These machines are disabled as the stationery has exhausted 10 days ago. We’ve sent a request for stationery," an employee said.
The Indian Railways set up ticket machines to prevent crowding at the station ticket counters. These are touchscreen-based kiosks which operate with smart cards. A passenger can purchase a smart card for Rs 50 (refundable) and recharge for a value between Rs 100 and Rs 5,000. The balance on the card is valid for six months from the last top-up.
The passenger must use the smart card in a slot in the machine, select the route and destination of travel using the touchscreen. Once the passenger confirms the details, ticket is printed . The train fare is debited from the smart card currency.
Not many travellers are aware of this facility, and there are no smart card holders here. Hence, tickets are issued through an agent, for whom the railways pay a commission. The machines dispense tickets for travel up to a distance of 150km. "Ticket machines were helpful and reduced waiting time," said a frequent traveller to Kasaragod.
Mohan A Menon, additional divisional railway manager, Southern Railway, Palghat, said: "I was not aware of the issue. I will initiate action to resolve the issue expeditiously."
Also, the railway booking office generates a revenue of Rs 15 lakh a day, but lacks restrooms for employees - the very reason why a miscreant walked away with Rs 9 lakh in cash recently. The theft took place when an employee climbed up to the first floor to use the toilet. The heist prompted the railways to build an enclosure for the cash room. The booking personnel said their demand for a washroom has fallen on deaf ears. "Also, the office needs a security door for maximum security,’’ an employee said.