Higher class rail fares may go up

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi declined to go into the details of the railways' plans on revision of fares saying, "nothing has been decided as yet and it is just a thinking".

Sources in the Railway Board, however, indicated that the proposed hike could be linked to the rising fuel costs which accounts for close to 18 per cent of its expenditure.

But on an earlier occasion soon after taking over as Railway Minister in July, Trivedi had said a hike in passenger fares would be thought of without affecting the general class used by poor people.

A proposal to align the freight and passenger fare with market prices was, in fact, made by the Railway Minister at the full Planning Commission meeting last month.

The thinking in the railways on upward revision of fares comes against the backdrop of suggestions from the Planning Commission that a revision has not been touched for over eight years now.

The railway finances are also not in a very comfortable position.  The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a recent report had noted that Railways was unable to meet its operation cost of passenger services and other coaching services.

In 2008-09, the loss on operation of passenger and other coaching services stood at Rs. 15,268 crore.  The loss in the previous fiscal was Rs.7,493 crore.

All category of passenger services except AC chair car and AC 3-tier incurred losses in 2009-10.

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