Railway Minister meets Sonia ahead of Budget session

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today met Congress President Sonia Gandhi ahead of Parliament session beginning from February 21.

The meeting assumes significance as Bansal would present his maiden Rail Budget on February 26.

Since the Rail Budget 2013-14 is considered to be last budget of the ruling UPA before the general elections in 2014, the government is expected to present a populist budget.
Bansal had announced about 21 per cent hike in passenger fares effective from January 22 with an aim to mop up additional revenue of Rs 6,600 crore in a year.

He had said that there will be no further hike in the Rail Budget 2013-14.
However, the recent diesel price hike of Rs 10.80 per litre has affected the national transporter adversely. The hike would cost Railways an additional fuel cost of Rs 3,300 crore annually. Bansal is under pressure to announce another round of fare hike to tide over the crisis.

Earlier on February 7, Bansal had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram with whom he is understood to have discussed the financial implication of the diesel price hike for Railways.

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