Railway not to raise fares in wake of petro hike: Lalu

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New Delhi, Jun 5 (UNI) Indian Railways will not increase passenger fares or freight charges in view of the diesel price hike, said Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today.

Mr Lalu Prasad pointed out that Indian Railways consume 227 crore litres (2.27 billion litres) diesel per annum and an increase in the price of diesel by Rs 3 per litre would cost Railways Rs 681 crore annually and Rs 560 crore for the remaining ten months of the current financial year.

He said that Railways have decided to absorb the diesel price hike by improving its productivity, efficiency and volumes.

He said that all Zonal Railways have been directed to grant upto 50 per cent discount, as against the prevailing 30 per cent, for loading of essential commodities like cement, foodgrains, fertilisers etc. in the empty flow direction.

Further reduction in freight rates was also being examined keeping in view the competitive position of the Railways in the transport market so as to attract more traffic and increase earnings, the Minister added.

He said that Indian Railways have maintained price stability in passenger fares for the past four years. Railways have in fact reduced AC-I fares by 28 per cent, AC-II fares by 17 per cent, AC-III fares upto 40 per cent in case of Garib Rath trains and second class fares by 5-25 per cent.

The introduction of Garib Rath has been a significant step in this direction which has made AC travel much more affordable for the common man, he pointed out.

In freight sector too, he said a flurry of initiatives and discounts have attracted more and more customers which resulted in a record freight loading of 795 million tonnes during the year 2007-08.

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