For speedy access of ticketing facilities and optimum utilisation of railway resources, Southern Railway (SR) has launched Integrated Unreserved Ticketing System (IUTS), merging both unreserved ticket counters and reserved ticket counters, at 138 stations in six divisions in Tamil Nadu and Kerala recently.
This means passengers will be able to purchase reserved tickets at unreserved ticket counters between 8 am and 8 pm at select stations in Madurai, Tiruchy and Salem divisions, while reserved ticket counters will also sell unreserved tickets during peak hours in Chennai division, said railway sources.
According to official records, the zone has 566 unreserved ticket counters across Chennai, Madurai, Tiruchy, Salem, Thiruvananthapuram and Palakkad divisions, while it has only 121 reserved ticket counters. Though SR operates 74 additional counters for booking reserved tickets — 45 at non rail head (NRH) locations, 20 at post offices and nine Yatri Ticket Suvidha Kendra (YTSK) counters operated by private agencies, it could not cater to demand.
Though more than 55 per cent of reserved tickets are booked through IRCTC, a section of passengers still wanted to purchase through counters. “Trains bound for southern Tamil Nadu has huge ticket demand and railways is unable to provide dedicated PRS counters for many stations in Madurai and Tiruchy divisions. So we have merged both UTS and PRS counters together at many stations in Tiruchy and Madurai division in the last two months,” said a senior railway official.
Of the 116 UTS counters, an UTS counter at each of 40 stations, including Pamban, Madurai East, Mettur and Kizhapuliyur railway stations, has been earmarked as IUTS counter for performing the dual role in Madurai division. As many as 28 counters out of 110 counters were converted as unified counters across Tiruchy division, while 18 counters were upgraded in Salem division. All the counters were upgraded in C, D and E category stations.
“Chennai division has limited demand for reservation counters. Six counters at Villivakkam, Puttur, Nayudupetta, Ekambarakuppam, Gudiyatham and Vaniyambadi have been selling both unreserved tickets and reserved tickets,” the official said.
The integrated ticketing system will enable railways to serve passengers without increasing manpower and creating additional infrastructure. However, the railways said that functioning of the counters will depend on passenger patronage at the particular station.
“When smaller stations had passage of express and passenger trains, the ticketing staff has been directed to sell only unreserved tickets. During Tatkal hours, the counter staff will cater to passengers who want to purchase reserved tickets,” an officer explained.