Shut ticket counters, long queues show commuters’ daily ordeal
Busy railway stations hardly have open ticket windows, railway officials say they are short-staffed
Panvel resident Akruti Kumar had to wait more than 45 minutes recently at the Belapur railway station to buy a ticket to head home. This is not the first time the 21-year-old commuter had to wait for long in the queue to buy tickets.
Over the past several months, this has been a persistent issue.
“Belapur is a busy node as several government and private companies are here. While a lot of people take the suburban trains to and from here, the station is not equipped to handle the crowd. We have to stand in long queues every day,” said Manish Singh, 23, who travels to Belapur for work.
Commuters have complained about the lack of ticket counters at the stations. Several stations such as Belapur, Seawoods and Kharghar have closed ticket counters most of the time, causing inconvenience to the commuters.
At Belapur, c ommuters said often only one of the two counters issuing suburban tickets is open on the east side while the rest two counters are for long-distance reservation.
On the west, too, there are six counters, all of which remain closed. In proportion to that, the station sees approximately 30,000 commuters every day, said the vendors at the ticket counters.
The situation is similar at Seawoods railway station where only one of the two ticket counters on the east side is open between 8am and 4pm, considered peak hours. On Sundays, both counters remain shut. The west side has two counters but only one is operational most of the time.
Officials manning the ticket counter said on an average 20,000 commuters travel to and from Seawoods stations.
Kharghar railway station sees a huge rush at the ticket counters. Of the eight ticket windows, only two are open for around 40,000 commuters.
According to records, there is an annual growth of 9% passengers on the harbour line and around 15 lakh passengers travel on this line every day. Commuters said the problem has worsened ever since the railways phased out the coupon vending machines (CVM). While Belapur station has two ATVMs on the east, only one is functional on most days. Seawoods has only one ATVM on each side and Kharghar has 3 ATVMs and two are in working condition.
Abhijeet Dhurat, president of the Railway Pravasi Welfare Association, said: “We have written several letters demanding the operation of the closed tickets counters at Seawoods, Belapur and Kharghar stations.”
Narendra Patil, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said: “There is a shortage of staff because of which we are not able to deploy people at the ticket windows. The problem will be resolved when the new recruitment process starts which is in the planning stage.”