Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is likely to announce a hike in railway fares and sources said that the government won't wait for the Budget Session to announce it. This will be the first fare hike by Indian Railways in the last 10 years.
Sources said that Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia met Bansal and told him that the government may not give more funds to Railways. Montek said that it has to generate revenue to fund its dream projects including modernisation and expansion - particularly the dedicated freight corridor and high speed bullet trains.
Earlier, Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi was forced to quit after he hiked fares in March 2012. In April 2012, AC I and AC II class fares were increased by 20 per cent. Mukul Roy, who replaced Dinesh Trivedi, announced a roll back later.
Railways estimate suggests that it looses Rs 21,000 crores annually in passenger fare segment. All eyes are on whether the sleeper class fares will be hiked.
The last across-the-board hike had happened at the start of the millennium, when Nitish Kumar held the charge. Railway has set up a tariff regulatory authority to restructure the passenger fares as well as freight charges.