World Bank initiates talks over Unified Ticket System in Chennai

World Bank initiated a meeting between officials of Southern Railway, Chennai Metro Rail Ltd (CMRL) and Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) to lay the groundwork for a common ticketing system, on Thursday, 5th March.

A senior official said this was part of a plan to have a common card for all modes of transport in every major city in India. Along with this, the World Bank also wants a seamless connectivity between all modes of transport, with digital boards showing all timings. For instance, Dr MGR Chennai Central station should have timings of the next metro train leaving Chennai Central towards airport, Washermenpet and St Thomas Mount and the metro station should have timings for the next bus and suburban trains.

This development comes at a time when a similar plan under the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) floated by the Tamil Nadu government has not taken off. Official sources who were present at the meeting said the preliminary focus was on collection of primary data of the type of passenger flow.

“World Bank has asked us to collect data on how many commuters leave suburban trains and take buses and how many take metro. We have been asked to map this data on a real-time basis. However, we don’t have the resources to do this,” said a senior official who was part of the meeting. Senior railway officials who have been part of unified ticketing discussion in the past said Southern Railway’s commercial wing has shown great interest in bringing out such a card for the past seven years.

However, the finance department wants exact accounting procedures to be followed. For example, it has stated that money accrued by railways from a multi-modal passenger should be deposited in railways account on the same day; but other agencies have objected to it as the accrual will only come after a day or two. “However, these are minor issues which can be resolved in this digital age very easily,” a railway official said.

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