Railways sign MoUs with six banks for installing ATMs
New Delhi, Nov 22 (UNI) 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 between Mr H V Sharma, Executive Director (Passenger Marketing) on behalf of the Railways and the Chairmen/CMDs 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 and Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Describing the deal as ''historic'', Mr Prasad said it would considerably bolster the revenues of the Railways. ''More importantly, it will provide great comforts to the travelling passengers by reducing the long queues at windows for buying tickets,'' he added.
He said travelling passengers can not only pull out money not exceeding Rs 15,000 from these ATMs but also get print-outs of their reserved tickets.
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. All these ATMs will cover urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
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 site design and kiosk design for Internet have already been approved.
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.
The ATMs 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.
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,'' a ministry official said.
The Railways have set a target of providing ATM facility at 4,000 stations, out of which 100 ATMs have already been installed. By the end of the current year, another 400 ATMs are planned to be installed.
The SBI had set up its first ATM at Ernakulama station in May 2002. The then Minister of State for Railways O Rajagopal had inaugurated it.
UNI/SKS MIR HT1942