Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mumbai WR looks for its most loyal users :-)

The Western Railway is frantically searching for two individuals from among the millions who use its suburban lines every day.

These two, at the moment only seven-digit numbers on the computer that controls WR's ticketing system, have been identified as its most loyal customers.

There is a reward in the offing, and a felicitation, but Railway officials say ATVM card-holders WR 0000034 and WR 0000099 can be found only if they come forward on their own. "There is really no other way," confesses chief spokesperson Sharat Chandrayan.

So what is so special about these people? On October 10, 2007, when Indian Railways introduced the Automated Ticket Vending Machine (AVTM) scheme, WR 0000034 bought a card at Churchgate station at 8:16 pm. A little over an hour later, at 9:49 pm, WR 0000099 picked up a card at the same window.

Today, when the network has grown to a total of 5.5 lakh cards, used by 45,000 passengers daily, their numbers swelling with each passing day, these are the only two cards that are still active from day one - with no breaks due to disuse or over-use.

"We want to felicitate the two people for their loyalty towards the concept of ATVMs. We want to do it during Railway Week, which is on till April 16. While we award employees for their good work, this time we want to celebrate these commuters because it is these people who make the Railways such a robust organisation," Chandrayan told Mumbai Mirror.

The Railways computer has a number of details about them, but none that will help identify them. They know, for example, that WR 0000034 last recharged their card at 12:41pm on January 11, 2011 at the Central Railway's Kurla station. It was the 10th recharge, worth Rs 100. The card's six-month validity means it is now operational until July 10.

WR 0000099, on the other hand, has recharged his card 12 times, four times at CST, three times at Bandra, and at other stations between Dadar and Bhayandar. His last recharge was on February 19 at 6:27 pm at a window in Andheri.

The Railways has other details which, if analysed, could perhaps provide a travelling pattern broken into six-monthly cycles, but the computer does not contain any personal data; not even their names.

Due to the sheer volume of passengers who use the Railway system across the country, there simply isn't enough server space for it.

Officials came across the significance of these cards during a routine study of the ATVMs being conducted by a team led by WR Chief Commercial Manager (Passenger Marketing) DK Singh. "These two smart cards were found while they were examining travel patterns and usage," Chandrayan said.

The ATVM project is important to the Railways because it helps bring down queues at ticketing counters, and could reduce manned windows over time.

Another advantage for the Railways, which handles money running into crores in small denominations, is that the ATVM machine's one-time pay concept reduces minor cash transactions.

WR counters located across 28 stations sell 325 new ATVM smart-cards, and recharge another 3,200 every day. Commuters buy 30,000 tickets daily, only for the Western line, using these cards on 115 machines between Churchgate and Virar.

While 47 machines have been damaged over the last four years due to vandalism, commuters such as WR 0000034 and WR 0000099 are a symbol of how well the project has worked.

Railway officials are now asking these loyal, model passengers to send their details to the sms helpline number 9004477777 at the earliest.

Sources: Mumbai Mirror