Fare hike unlikely in upcoming Rail Budget

New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) Despite financial constraints,the Railways is unlikely to increase passenger fares in theforthcoming budget, which is slated to be presented in thelast week of February.

Sources in Railway Ministry said even if there is a 10per cent hike in passenger fares across the board, which cangenerate Rs 2,000 crore, it will still be a paltry amount incomparison to the total expenditure and revenue earnings.

There, however, might be minor changes in freightrates but the hike will be minimal in view of persistentcompetition from roadways transporters, the sources said,adding, total earnings of Railways for 2010-11 is pegged ataround Rs 94,765 crore.

It is possible that the budget may also mention theintroduction of ''Train sets'', a new class of trains where thelocomotive and coaches are a single unit, they said.

According to insiders in the ministry, the proposalis, however, facing stiff resistance from some quarters inRailway Board given the exorbitant cost involved and thecompatibility of such trains with the network.

There is a proposal to import these ''Train sets'',which are similar to TGV (France), ICE (Germany) andShinkansen (Japan).

While the new-age train ''Rake'' costs around Rs 15crore, a ''Train set'' will cost Rs 72 crores, according tosources.

The Railway Time Table Committee, which met in Punerecently, went through several such proposals and it isbelieved that they reworked on many schedules and frequencies.

There are also talks of introducing dedicated ''Tatkaltrains''.

A common SMS-based helpline for lodging complaints inall the zones will also find space in Railway Minister MamataBanerjee''s speech.

Her task will, however, be oriented towards finding asolution to pull the Railways out of the financial mess itfinds itself today. The operating ratio is already hovering ataround 95.3 per cent.

The burden of the Sixth Pay Commission and lossesincurred in freight loading is weighing heavily on theMinistry.

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