M A I N   N E W S

Partial rollback of rail fare hike
Faraz Ahmad/TNS

New Delhi, March 22
Mamata Banerjee’s chosen Railway Minister Mukul Roy promptly repaid her debt at the first opportunity today by rolling back the hike - announced recently by Dinesh Trivedi in the Rail Budget - in train fares for not just the general second class, but also for AC chair car and AC three-tier sleeper classes.

Recalling Mamata’s opposition to taxing the poor through fare hikes, Roy announced, “I am withdrawing the rise in passenger fares for second class suburban and non-suburban, sleeper, AC chair car and AC 3-tier” describing these as a “huge drain” on the pocket of the masses. He added, "Many members have expressed anguish over the proposal to hike passenger fares that would impact the ‘aam aadmi’.”

Roy, who was sworn in yesterday, said, "The proposal to increase fares by 2 paise per km, 3 paise per km and 5 paise per km in second class suburban, non-suburban and sleeper class is a huge drain on the pocket of the masses.

“Similarly, the increase in the fare of AC chair car and AC 3-tier, which is now patronised by the middle class, is also quite severe. I intend to give relief to the already overburdened common man by not affecting any increase in these classes.”

He, however, left untouched the fare hike of 15 paise per km and 30 paise per km, respectively, in passenger fares for AC 2-tier and AC-I, announced by his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi in the Railway Budget on March 12.

Roy, who steered the passage of the Appropriations (Railways) Vote on Account Bill, 2012, Appropriation (Railways) Bill, 2012 and Appropriation (Railways) No. 2 Bill, 2012 today to a full House in the Lok Sabha, read out the prepared text of his speech marked by repeated praise for his leader Mamata Banerjee.

Despite this partial withdrawal of fare hike, which was intended to bring in crores of rupees to improve safety standards in the Railways, the new Railway Minister insisted that fund generation would not be a problem.

He said that the financial loss incurred due to the rollback in passenger fares could be compensated by the sale of railway land all over the country and further encouragement of public-private partnership in the Railways.

The Reply speech of the Railway Minister was a clear-cut effort to dismiss and deride anything that his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi did or was planning to do.

He set aside Trivedi’s proposal to set up a committee to examine the need to create an independent tariff regulatory authority for the Railways and also scrapped Trivedi's proposal to expand the Railway Board.

The minister said, “Ensuring the safety of passengers will be of utmost importance to me.” He also mentioned improvement of catering services in trains as one of his priorities. 





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