Rail minister defends hike in fares

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday asserted that his ministry was left with no option but to hike the passenger fare as it has become difficult to provide safety and amenities to passengers with the current revenue.

He said the hike would fetch Railways Rs 6,600 crore in 2012-13 as revenue.
Replying to queries from mediapersons, he said that the decision to increase in passenger fare prior to Budget Session was taken to earn at least Rs 1,200 crore in the remaining months before the new financial starts.

He also obliquely criticised Trinamool Congress chief Mamamta Banejeee who made Dinesh Trivedi, the then railway minister, to roll back the hike in passenger fare.  Bansal said that basic fares have not been revised upwards in the last ten years except for the increase implemented in the last budget for only First Class, AC 2Tier and AC First / Executive Class.

“Across the board fare hike proposal placed in 2012-13 Railway Budget in Parliament finally approved only for First, 2nd AC and First AC/Executive Classes, which together constitute only about 0.3 per cent of total passengers and about 10 per cent of total earnings from passenger segment,” he said.   “Fund balances were negative in 2011-12, adversely affecting essential replacement renewal of assets, operation and maintenance activities and critical safety and passenger amenity works,” the minister asserted.

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