GUWAHATI, Aug 22 - Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway has successfully implemented the concept of Station Ticket Booking Agent (STBA) at 69 stations across the zone and plans are afoot to further expand the system.
Railway officials told this newspaper that the STBA concept not only facilitates issuance of unreserved tickets through the computerised Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) at �E� category stations through Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, but also helps in generating additional employment opportunities for local youths while also allowing the station masters concerned to devote more time to the core task of train operations.
�A total of 69 non-suburban �E� category stations of NFR have been provided with the innovative STBA. These are stations with an annual ticket sale of up to Rs 1 crore. At these stations, there is no separate staff for ticket sale and the on-duty station master is responsible for the sale of unreserved tickets to the public,� Pranav Jyoti Sharma, Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NFR, told The Assam Tribune.
NFR presently has 328 such stations where income is less than Rs 1 crore.
�Appointment of STBAs at about 67 more stations is in various stages of progress. Based on demand and feedback, we will explore the possibility of further enhancing the STBA concept and include more such stations under it,� said Sharma.
He said appointment of STBAs has proved to be of great help to passengers at small and remote stations. The system of purchasing tickets from STBAs is gaining popularity in this region.
�At present, around 5.64 per cent of passengers travelling in the NFR zone purchase their rail tickets from STBAs. We expect a surge in such ticket selling with opening of more STBAs at remote stations,� said Sharma.
Indian Railways had come out with the idea to engage STBAs at �E� category stations in 2015.
�Engagement of such agents helps the station master concerned to devote more time to train operation, thus improving safety and punctuality. The STBA operators are allowed to sell all types of non-concession unreserved tickets through UTS, including platform tickets and season tickets, on cash basis only. Renewal of season tickets and issuance of senior citizen concession tickets are also permitted,� said Sharma.
The concept also promotes employment avenues for local educated youths as, for becoming STBA the applicant should be a resident of the local block or mandal in which the station is located.
The applicant should be of 18 years of age and should have passed Class X or equivalent examination. STBA agents get monthly commission ranging from four to 15 per cent depending on sales turnover.
�The cost of hardware and software (including maintenance), electricity and hiring of channel is borne by the railways. The space is also provided by the railways free of cost. The initial period of contract is for a period of three years,� said the NFR CPRO.