The introduction of automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs) and the UTS app by the Southern Railway to wean commuters off ticket counters has been effective. However, machines in some stations have become defective, inconveniencing commuters. To remedy this, the Chennai division is planning to install 130 ATVMs at railway stations falling under it, with 34 already installed in 19 stations.
Residents from areas, such as B.V. Nagar, Nehru Nagar, SBI Colony, Teachers Colony and Moovarasampet, located on the east side of the Meenambakkam railway station, want a ticket counter on their side, since the existing one is on the west side of the station, near GST Road.
Social activist Venkatesan said residents in the locality preferred taking the train at the Pazhavanthangal railway station a decade ago. Now, with the subway providing easy access to GST Road, office-goers and residents have started using the Meenambakkam railway station. However, some, particularly senior citizens, find it difficult to access the ticket counter on the GST Road side.
Based on a representation made by the local cadre of the Community Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)), MSME Minister and Alandur MLA T.M. Anbarasan arranged the installation of an ATVM on the east side of the station. However, the machine has stopped functioning within a few months of commissioning.
R.R. Vijayvir, a member of the Divisional Railway Users’ Consultative Committee, during a meeting held recently in Chennai division, complained that commuters, who had purchased smart cards to get tickets through the ATVMs, had been facing difficulties as several ATVMs were not functioning. Also, he wanted ATVMs to be installed in all railway stations to help ease congestion in front of ticket counters.
A. Elumalai, Public Relations Officer, Chennai division of Southern Railway, said a total of 130 ATVMs had been proposed to be installed in phases, with 34 already installed in 19 railway stations in the division. Listing out the stations where the machine had been installed to help ease congestion at counters, he said the high value stations covered in the first phase included Egmore (3), Tambaram (3), Central (2), Beach (2), Ambattur (2), Guindy (2), Chengalpattu (2), Park (2), Avadi (2), Perumabur (2), Fort (2), Nungambakkam (2), Pallavaram (2), Basin Bridge (1), Tiruvallur (1), Villivakkam (1), Kodambakkam (1), St. Thomas Mount (1) and Sullurpeta (1).
The Chennai division, having a total of 160 railway stations, has proposed to install the remaining 96 ATVMs by the end of April in a phased manner, including repairing the ones that are not working.
The ATVMs and UTS app were introduced by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) to simplify ticket booking. In a few important railway stations that had ticket counters on only one side of the platform, officials found it economical to set up ATVMs instead of constructing brand new counters. In some stations, the ATVMs are manned by retired railway employees. Some of these include Egmore, Beach, Mambalam, Guindy and Tambaram.