The Rail Budget 2013 will be the the first by a Congress minister in 17 years and is likely to pinch you a bit more. While the rail minister may not directly increase passenger fares, rail fares will go up in the form of fuel adjustment charge and other surcharges.
The ministry last month had effected a fare hike for all classes of rail travel, which promised railways an instant recovery of revenue worth Rs 6,500 crores in its empty coffers. The increase in diesel prices following the fare hike has negated the additional revenue of Rs 3,300 crore which Railways was expected to mop up.
In order to compensate for the high fuel bill, the government is likely to introduce a fuel adjustment component and a passenger amenities cess which will contribute to a hike in rail fares, sources told IBN Live.
Other surcharges could be in the form of a surcharge on Tatkal tickets, additional reservation charge, or on use of ‘clean toilets’ or clean stations surcharge etc.
The ministry, which is in the process of finalising the Rail Budget 2013-14 to be presented on 26 February, is likely to raise catering charges in premier trains like Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi, which will be part of the fare.
As far as freight rate is concerned, the railways had increased it by 20 per cent on 7 March last year with a target of earning an additional Rs 18,000 crore annually.
Meanwhile, an additional Rajdhani is likely to be introduced between Delhi and Mumbai. Two are already running between the two metropolitan cities.
Speculation is all rife about announcement of 100 new trains including AC double deckers, extension and increase of some popular passenger services.
Also, several railway works could come under the MNREGA, the flagship programme of the UPA which would widen the programme’s scope.
Moreover, Railways is planning to link train tickets with Aadhaar cards to tackle the menace of touts in bookings.Tickets with bar codes which will be linked with Adhaar cards of the passenger could be introduced.
Meanwhile, Bansal promised a 24X7 helpline for women that will be tracked real time, with top priority accorded to safety of passengers, especially women. “The safety and security of passengers, especially women, is top priority of the Indian Railways,” Bansal told IANS in an interview. “It’s not possible to deploy women constables in each of the 51,000 coaches. But soon there would be round-the-clock toll-free helpline for women and this will be tracked on real-time basis.”
He has also promised a slew of passenger-friendly measures such as improvement in catering service, maintaining cleanliness at rail premises, introducing Braille stickers in coaches for visually-challenged passengers and development of stations in his maiden Rail Budget.
Followingare some other things than can be expected from the Rail Budget
Development of stations
Better cleanliness and hygiene
Separation of passenger and freight train lines
Developing a corporate culture
New tax on passenger amenities
Fuel cess on passenger fares
More projects for Uttar Pradesh
Mumbai to get a third Rajdhani Express