SME Times News Bureau | 10 Jan, 2013
Indian train fares
were Wednesday hiked across the board for the first time in 10 years, with
Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal saying this was needed to keep the world's
second-largest rail network going.
But the opposition termed the move as "unacceptable" and
The new fares take effect from Jan 21 midnight.
Bansal said he would focus on improving services and safety from the Rs.6,000
crore expected to be earned from the fare hike.
But he added that fares would not be touched during the annual railway budget
to be tabled in February.
"There has been no revision of basic fares for 10 years, and this has had
a telling effect on railway finances," Bansal told reporters.
"It is imperative to go for a moderate fare hike immediately."
The fare hike ranged from two paise per kilometre on second class suburban
trains, six paise per kilometre on sleeper class to three, six and 10 paise per
kilometre on air-conditioned III, II and I classes respectively.
Bansal said the hike was needed to maintain and improve safety measures as well
as cleanliness of trains, and to better the condition of railway stations.
But opposition parties condemned the hike.
"The government goes on increasing the price but it does not increase
amenities and safety of railways. It is absolutely unacceptable and
atrocious," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
Fares for first class and all air-conditioned classes were last revised in
March last year.
But the then railway minister Mukul Roy of Trinamool Congress rolled back the
hike announced in the 2012 budget in general passenger categories by his party
colleague Dinesh Trivedi.
"The railway fare hike is anti-poor people. It is anti-common
people," Roy said.
"From Thursday 5 p.m., Trinamool will start protests all over the
country," he said.
But defending the hike, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said:
"Sometimes, it is inevitable to take tough decisions."
The railway ministry came to the Congress after 17 years when Bansal took
charge in October after Trinamool left the ruling United Progressive Alliance.
Bansal said besides a slowdown in the economy, a likely reduction in the
railway's plan size to Rs.51,000 crore from the estimated Rs.60,000 crore, and
lower freight targets by 13 million tonnes forced the fare hike.
Increasing input costs was another factor, he said.
But common people found the argument difficult to buy.
Egg vendor Prakash Kumar Yadav wondered how he would be able to afford the
"I earn an average of Rs.5,000 per month and out of that, Rs.3,000 goes on
food. Out of the rest, I have to account for clothes, emergency situations and
travel. So in this tight budget, how can one afford the hike," he told
Auto-rickshaw driver Satrohan Singh told IANS: "I have to travel by train
often. The hike will affect my pocket a lot. And it is not like I have an
option to cut my travels. When there is work, I have to travel home. But with
prices increasing all around, I'm not surprised that train tickets have become