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High-level railway meeting to discuss fare hike today

NEW DELHI, Oct 29, 2012, DHNS: 2:19 IST
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Soon after his assuming charge of the ministry on Monday, new railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal took up the issue of increase in the passenger fare.

He will hold a high-level meeting on Tuesday with Railway Board members and other senior officials of the ministry to discuss the matter.

Disclosing it to media, Bansal said that passenger hike is essential for providing better services to the train travellers. He also expressed confidence that people will accept the idea as they need better service.

“"We have to ensure that the vast infrastructure of the railways does not collapse and stop functioning. So we have to increase fares and assure the public. The public will also appreciate it because we are going to improve the services," said the minister.

The minister declared safety as the highest priority of the railways, and enumerated cleanliness and punctuality as among other important priorities. "We are aware of the fact that the primary concern is the safety of passengers. We have to do our best to ensure security of the passengers. Cleanliness is also important besides punctuality. We have to give a clean environment in the trains," he said.

The minister’s assertion about fare hike has given rise to the speculation over the timing and quantum of the increase in passenger fare. It is most likely that the ministry will not to wait for the next budget to introduce a hike.

In his short stint in the railway ministry, C P Joshi had announced setting up a Rail Tariff Authority to determine tariffs of passenger and freight services.

Besides, the ministry has with it recommendations of the Sam Pitroda Committee and Anil Kakodkar Committee. The Pitroda Committee has recommended modernisation surcharge on per kilometre basis, while the Kokodkar Committee calculated a safety cess which should generate Rs 5,000 crore per year.

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