Second class fare hike unlikely in Rail Budget

New Delhi, Jan 16 (PTI) The Railways, facing financialconstraints, are unlikely to increase second class passengerfares in its coming budget but a marginal rationalisation offreight rates is on the cards.

The possible hike on the freight front is expected inview of the competition coming from road transporters, Railwaysources said.

They maintained the Ministry is not inclined towardsputting any burden on second class travellers and even if anincrease does take place it may be in the upper class categoryand a moderate one.

The total earnings of Railways for 2010-11 is peggedat around Rs 94,765 crore. The Railways are facing a reportednet deficit of Rs 2,500 crore.

The budget may propose introduction of ''train sets'', anew class of trains where the locomotive and coaches are asingle unit, the sources said.

According to Ministry insiders, the proposal is facingstiff resistance from some quarters in the Railway Board giventhe exorbitant cost involved and the compatibility of suchtrains with the network.

There is a proposal to import these ''train sets'',which are similar to TGV (France), ICE (Germany) andShinkansen (Japan). A ''train set'' is expected to cost Rs 72crore, according to the sources.

The Railway Time Table Committee, at a recent meetingin Pune, studied several such proposals and is believed tohave suggested reworking of many schedules.

There is also talk of introducing dedicated ''Tatkal''trains.

A common SMS-based helpline for lodging complaints inall the zones may also be included in Railway Minister MamataBanerjee''s speech.

Her task will, however, be oriented towards finding asolution to pull the Railways out of the financialconstraints. The operating ratio has been hovering at around95.3 per cent.

The burden of the Sixth Pay Commission and lossesincurred in freight loading are said to be the reasons for thedecline in the financial health of the Railways. PTI ARU SGIRAI JVN SC

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