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Rly sign MoUs with 6 banks for installing ATMs

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Nov 22: After inking a deal with the SBI for setting up Automatic Teller Machines at railway stations, the Railway Ministry today signed a similar agreement with six other nationalised banks, in a step aimed at qualitatively upgrading the profile of passenger amenities.

The deal is expected to swell the Railways' coffers by Rs 25 crore annually.

The MoUs were signed with the representatives of the six banks -- Bank of Baroda, Canara Bank, Dena Bank, Indian Bank, Punjab National Bank and Union Bank of India -- in the presence of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, his deputies Naranbhai J Rathwa and R. Velu, Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal and Railway Board Chairman J P Batra.

As part of the deal, the six banks will install ATMs at 711 stations, having passenger earnings of less than Rs 3 crore, and 473 of these ATMs would have e-ticketing facilities.

More than one bank can install this facility at one station as also at stations already covered by the SBI. However, banks having greater presence in a particular area will be given preference.

The ATM will provide not only banking facilities to railway users but also season tickets and unreserved tickets. In fact, the season ticket facility has already been introduced in Mumbai.

A ministry official said Bank of Maharashtra had also evinced interest in setting up ATMs at stations, but it later developed cold feet since it wanted to install this facility only at bigger stations.

On August 4 this year, the Railway Ministry had signed an MoU with the State Bank of India (SBI) for installation of ATMs at 681 railway stations with e-ticketing facility at major stations.

With today's signing of MoUs, the Railway Ministry has formalised deals with seven nationalised banks. However, the ministry is also likely to rope in private banks in this project in a big way.

''We have prepared the spadework in this regard and talks with private banks are likely to begin soon,'' the official said.

The Railways have set a target of providing ATM facility at 2000 stations during the current financial year, of which about 1300 have already been finalised. ''The ultimate objective is to provide this facility at all of its over 7000 stations by the end of the next fiscal,'' the official pointed out.

The SBI had set up its first ATM at a station in the country at Ernakulam in May 2002. The then Minister of State for Railways O. Rajagopal had inaugurated it.


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