Dear Mumbaikars, when paying more for auto, why reluctant to rail fare hike?

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Has Mumbai overhyped rail fare issue?
Caving in to the demands for scrapping rail fare hike for Mumbai suburban trains, the Modi Government has partially rolled back the fares. The hike in passenger and freight charges in railways especially in Mumbai drew flak from almost all quarters forcing the Government to backtrack its decision, which was an attempt to bring cash-strapped world's third largest rail network on track.

It is unfortunate that the very first announcement from the Modi Government was greeted by shrill cries of 'bure din aagye'. Voices of dissent came out not only from the common people but also from BJP's own MPs and allies. But nobody even tried to find out rationale behind the hike, and too by a man who himself had always been vocal against rising prices and inflation.

MMRTA has decided to hike fares for autorickshaws in the city

This pre-budget decision was expected to mop up an additional revenue of Rs 8000 crore annually for the Indian Railways which despite being one of world's largest carriers facing major financial crunch. This increase in passenger fare by 14.2 per cent and freight charges by 6.5 per cent was seen as a part of series reforms in the cash-strapped Indian Railways, reportedly facing a loss of nearly Rs 900 crore per month.

If we have a look at the auto and taxi fare in Mumbai, the proposed rail fare was justified. Presently, Mumbaikars are paying Rs 85 for monthly season ticket (II Class) likewise Rs 190 on monthly pass whereas the present fare for autos is minimum Rs 15 for 1.5 km and Rs 9.87 for every subsequent km. This clearly shows that right now Mumbaikars are shelling out more for autos to reach the station everyday than to reach their destination by train.

Recently, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) has decided to hike fares for autorickshaws in the city and neighbouring areas. If Bombay High Court gives go ahead to the decision, the minimum fare of autorickshaw will go up from Rs 15 to Rs 17.

Now, the question here arises, if people can give Rs 15 for travelling 1.5 km, why such an hue and cry over rail fare hike which has been done at optimum level, why such reluctance to support new dispensation's plan which were chalked out to ensure rail journey safer and better. The Modi Government is just asking for people's support to revamp the cash-strapped Indian railways system.

The national carrier has not seen any substantial hike in the last decade due to which it is providing poor facilities. If we look at the past record, nearly 70 train accidents have taken place in the last decade under the UPA regime claiming over 1175 lives due to lack of technological up-gradation. A facelift of Indian Railways is need of the hour and for this the recent fare hike was justified.

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