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Bye queues, hi quick entry
- Ticket vending machine debuts at Tatanagar station

Mail, express and passenger train regulars will no longer have to wait for hours to buy unreserved tickets at Tatanagar station. That job will be taken care of by automatic ticket vending machines (ATVMs), the first one of which debuted at the A-category station under Chakradharpur railway division on Friday.

Four more are expected to start functioning within six months.

The new kiosk, which dispenses tickets on swiping smart cards, was declared open by Tatanagar booking in-charge Anirban Sen in the presence of senior divisional commercial manager, Chakradharpur, Subhashish Kole.

“Tatanagar station is the first junction under Chakradharpur division to get an ATVM. This was in keeping with a decision of the railways to equip all prominent railway stations with modern ticket booking facilities. Four more machines will be installed by June,” Kole said.

According to a senior official, the railways decided to install ATVMs at stations that have either recorded a jump in passenger traffic or have potential to pull in more passengers. Tatanagar was chosen because its location is such that passenger as well as express and mail trains of other railway divisions like Kharagpur and Adra pass through it.

Everyday, around 90 trains pass through the junction, which witnesses a footfall of around 50,000 passengers.

After the ATVM’s entry, a majority of regular passengers travelling to places like Howrah apart from Chakradharpur, Ghatshila, Ranchi and Bokaro will be spared the ordeal of standing in serpentine queues at ticket booking counters. Ashok Agrawal, a regular on Tata-Howrah Steel Express, is one of them.

“The new system will save time and bail out passengers who are in a hurry. As the departure time of the Steel Express is quite early, we hardly have time in hand. In the absence of an advance booking system here, we have no other option but to stand in long queues. But now, the process of getting a ticket has become really easy. One just has to swipe the smart card at the machine,” said Agrawal, a resident of Jugsalai.

Explaining the process of how to get a ticket, a railway official said commuters were required to buy prepaid smart cards to avail of the service (see chart). “The railways will depute staff at the station to explain the functioning of the machine to passengers,” the official added.

Extra coach for Steel

The SER will add a non-AC chair car coach to the second class of Steel Superfast Express from Saturday. The coach will have 108 seats and the fare will be Rs 110.

At present, the express — the most popular train between Calcutta and Jamshedpur — has six second-class chair car coaches, a first AC coach, three AC chair car coaches and eight general compartments.

Officials at SER’s headquarters in Calcutta said the office of chief passenger transportation manager issued a notification on Friday. The notice has been sent to both Kharagpur and Chakradharpur railway divisions.