Railways Minister Pawan Bansal today announced a hike in rail fares across all classes, including the politically sensitive second class fares, and clarified that there will be no additional hikes at the time of the Rail Budget in February.
The hike in non-AC second class fares comes for the first time in ten years.
Bansal said that a rail hike was now imperative since in 2010-11, the railways lost nearly 20,000 crore while this year the losses are pegged at Rs 25,000 crore.
The fare hike, which is effective from the midnight of 21 January, is expected to generate over Rs 6,600 crore revenues for the Indian Railways, of which Rs 1,000 crore will come from the hike in AC fares alone, said Bansal, even though media reports had pegged the revenue generation at Rs 12,000 crore.
Bansal has increased the fare for second class ordinary suburban train by 2 paise per kilometer while that of the second class ordinary non-suburban train by 3 paise/km.
Passengers travelling on Second class coaches of mail express trains will have to pay an additional 4 paise/km , while those traveling in the sleeper class will have to shell out an additional 6 paise/ km.
The fare hike in AC class is as follows:
• 10 paise/ km for AC three-tier
• 6 paise/km for AC two-tier
• 10 paise /km fir AC first class and executive class.
Executive Class were already raised by 10 paise per km, 15 and 30 paise respectively in the current year's budget.
As a result of the proposed hike, ordinary Second Class suburban fares for a distance of 35 km will go up by Rs 2 from Rs 8 to Rs 10, while in the non-suburban trains it will go up by Rs 5 for an average distance of 135 km.
In Sleeper Class, the increase would mean a hike of Rs 50 for a distance of 770 km from Rs 270 to Rs 320. In the case of AC Chair Car, for a distance of 387 km, the increase would be Rs 40 from Rs 345 to Rs 385. In the case of AC Three Tier, for a distance of 717 km, the fare will go up from Rs 724 to Rs 800, an increase of Rs 76.
Today's decision also covered services like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto type trains. However, it exempted platform tickets from any hike.
Bansal also proposed to do away with the practice of levying development charge on passenger tickets and all the chargeable fares will in future be in multiples of five.
Bansal, was however, non-committal when asked about a hike in freight tariffs which are used to cross-subsidise passenger fares. The cross subsidy through freight business was no more viable in view of the fast evolving competition from other modes.
Bansal also said input costs have increased immensely over the years and the fares had remained stagnant or there was a little decrease in the lower class fares. He said Railways was making efforts to raise revenues to meet urgent safety and user amenities requirements.
In addition, the Sixth Pay Commission meant an additional outgo of Rs 73,000 crore in the five year period and about one lakh crore till this time. Bansal also said the freight traffic target could also not be met with the load showing a shortfall of 13 million tonne till December end.
Dinesh Trivedi had proposed fare hikes across all classes of Indian Railways during the Rail Budget of 2012 while he was Railways Minister. However, thanks to opposition from within his own party, he was forced to resign and subsequently the fare hike was rolled back by his successor Mukul Roy.
With PTI inputs