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Railway services to get fully digitalized

  • Published at 01:34 am October 9th, 2018
Usually, Kamalapur Railway Station turns in to a sea of people like this ahead of ahead of the two Eid vacations. Stakeholders claim the sufferings people endure will be lessened through the introduction of Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh Railway and RCG Microwave Bangladesh signed a joint work agreement to install ATVMs in October

Bangladesh Railway will be introducing Automatic Ticket Vending Machines (ATVMs) at railway stations across the country; this should help the service adapt to Digital Bangladesh, and reduce hassles for customers. 

A joint work agreement was signed between Bangladesh Railway and RCG Microwave Bangladesh, on September 19, to install ATVMs.

According to agreement papers, RCG Microwave Bangladesh will initially install 10 ATVMs at Dhaka’s Kamalapur railway station and at the Chittagong railway station, respectively.

Sources from RCG Microwave said ATVMs) have already been imported from Spain and the installation process will be complete by   October.

However, these machines will only be used as information booths at first. Passengers will get to know about a train's location, ticket prices, and seats—as well as other information about: Bangladesh Railway and train services, buses, hotels, and restaurants.

Riyadh Ahmed, managing director of the project, said these machines will eventually be used as ticket vending machines so that passengers can buy their own tickets at the machines.

He said: "Bangladesh has become a digital country but several of Bangladesh railway services are still analogue. We are trying to change the system and the railway will be a role model for Digital Bangladesh."

These machines should work like a bank booth, where customers can buy tickets, using cash or card; they will be available at all stations, the project managing director added.

According to RCG Microwave, the ATVMs are touchscreen-based ticketing kiosks operated using Smart Cards. The passengers can purchase and recharge these cards at ticket counters.

The Smart Card has to be placed on a slot in the ATVM and the user should select the route and destination on the touch screen. After confirming the details, the ticket should be printed and delivered on the spot.

Once the ticket is issued, the charge will be deducted from the Smart Card. The interface and the enabling software include a graphic display of route maps as well as trilingual menu options.

The process does not require cash, and the service is convenient and available round-the-clock.

Railways Minister Md Mazibul Hoque has expressed his sentiments about the digitalization of Bangladesh Railway as part of the digital Bangladesh initiative taken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The minister said: "Automatic Ticket Vending Machines will be set up as part of Digital Bangladesh and people can know everything about train services using these machines; they even can buy tickets."

He claimed once these machines are installed, they will bring about a revolutionary transformation of Bangladesh’s railway services.

Railway officials believe these machines would prove to be helpful for customers  purchasing platform tickets. The move might also help boost digital payment—as people can also purchase their tickets by using debit cards.

However, this can prove to be a challenge for authorities to make people aware of the machines so that they can operate ATVMs without difficulties.

Secretary of Railways Ministry Md Mofazzel Hossain said tickets were now sold online for the railway service, and after the ATVM installation, services will be more digitalized.

He said: “Smart cards will be introduced to purchase tickets using ATVMs.”

According to railway officials, the introduction of these machines will enable income for the railways, and help it digitise—as RCG Microwave will pay monthly rent for the space where the machines will be set up and a portion of revenue to railway earned from advertisements.