New Delhi, Jan 9: Rail fares have been hiked by 2 paise per km to 10 paise per kilometre in various classes. Those travelling by trains will have to pay the higher fare from Jan 21. The proposals will bring revenue of Rs 1200 crore between January 21 and March 31 this year.
Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told news persons here today that the fare hike has been necessitated by the mounting losses in the passenger segment. The minister did not rule out a hike in the freight tariff.
The Railways will use the additional revenue that will accrue from the hike to make rail travel more safe and also maintain cleanliness in all trains, he said.
Stating that the Railway Budget to be presented in Feb will not contain any announcements regarding a further hike, Bansal said that Kolkata Metro fares will remain the same.
From Jan 21, all 2nd Class passengers in suburban trains will be charged 2 paise extra for each km they travel while their counterparts in non-suburban trains will have to shell out 3 paise more per km.
The fare has been hiked by 4 paise per km for 2nd Class passengers in mail/express trains. Those in Sleeper Class will be asked to pay an additional 10 paise for every km of travel.
As far as air-conditioned coaches are concerned, the fare hike is as follows:
10 paise per km for AC Chair Car passengers
6 paise per km besides the 15 paise per km increase announced earlier for AC 2 Tier passengers
3 paise per km part from the earlier increase of 10 paise per km for AC 1st Class passengers
The opposition has slammed the fare hike. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar pointed out that "A hike is justified if services are bettered." In his opinion, passengers will not mind paying more if rail travel is made safer and better amenities are provided to them.
Incidentally, the rail fares were hiked last year by Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress but party supremo Mamata Banerjee claimed that he had taken the unpopular decision on his own. Hence Trivedi resigned from the railway minister's post a few days later.
Tatkal priority withdrawn
The Railway Board has rolled back a circular under which 'Tatkal' ticket holders were given priority while clearing waiting lists over normal reservation ticket holders. The Board in a circular issued on May 15, 2012 had said that clearance of waiting list tickets of a general passenger would be done only after clearing the 'Tatkal' waiting list, as part of its efforts to earn more (Tatkal tickets are issued at a premium).
The circular was taken back by the Railway Board after a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed at the Madhya Pradesh High Court's principal bench at Jabalpur on the issue, after which the court directed the railways on December 12, 2012, to appoint a competent official where the petitioner could file his complaint in this regard.
However, the railways moved a review petition yesterday to inform the high court that it has withdrawn the circular under which 'Tatkal' ticket holders were given priority in clearing waiting lists, over those with normal reservation.
The PIL was filed by a journalist Sanjeev Pandey, who termed the circular as against the interest of large numbers of normal reservation ticket holders who book their tickets three to four months in advance to get confirmed tickets.
The Railway Board's decision is expected to benefit a large number of railway passengers, especially those who cannot spend enough money to book a 'Tatkal' ticket. The journalist alleged that the circular clearly indicated that the railway had deviated from its role of a public welfare institution to a purely commercial one catering to the needs of only the rich. If such practices are allowed to continue, common people would be deprived of their chance to get tickets on the waiting list confirmed, he said.