Economy
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Railway passenger fares rolled back by new minister

Fare hike in sleeper, suburban, AC chair car and AC 3-tier to be rolled back, railway minister Mukul Roy said

Railway minister Mukul Roy on Thursday announced a roll-back of passenger fares, which were part of the Rail Budget 2012 presented by his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi last week.

The minister said that passenger fares for sleeper, sub-urban, AC chair car and AC 3-tier classes would be rolled back.

He, however, kept untouched the increase of 15 paise per km and 30 paise per km respectively in passenger fares in AC 2-tier and AC-I announced by Mr Trivedi last week.

Replying to the debate on the Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha, Mr Roy also put on hold Mr Trivedi’s proposal of setting up a committee to examine whether there should be an independent tariff regulatory authority.

Besides, he scrapped proposal to expand the Railway Board.

Mr Roy, who was replying to the debate just a day after taking over as railway minister, said, “The proposal to increase fare by 2 paise per km, 3 paise per km and 5 paise per km in second class suburban and non-suburban and Sleeper class is a huge drain on the pocket of the masses.”

“Similarly, 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 over burdened common man by not effecting any increase in these classes.”

Mr Trivedi had proposed 10 paise per km each for AC Chair Car and AC 3-tier.

Referring to the roll-back of hike in train fares announced earlier, Mr Roy said “many members have expressed anguish over the proposal to hike passenger fares that would impact the aam aadmi”.

“The concern of the common man is over-riding, even if it means biting the bullet of a different kind, the impact of the fare hike on the aam aadmi is huge,” he said.

After Roy’s 20-minute speech, the House passed the Vote on Account and the relevant Appropriation Bills, as well as a resolution to adopt recommendations of the second report of the Railway Convention Committee by voice vote.

He said the Railways would launch an “aggressive drive to mop up resources from non-conventional sources” like public- private partnership (PPP) projects would be carried out on a fast-track.

Advertising as a source of revenue was not being fully explored, he said, adding that there would be “a focused approach” on using the vacant land and airspace with the railways to raise resources.

Noting the concerns expressed by almost all members over rail safety, he said in order to avoid accidents at unmanned railway crossings, he would pursue the commitment to ‘eliminate’ such crossings.

Major initiatives would be launched to construct overbridges, revamp telecommunications, rolling stock and terminals, the minister said.

Maintaining that members had expressed “deep anguish” over cleanliness and hygiene at stations and in trains, he said these issues would be on his top priority after safety.

Regarding filling up of vacancies, Mr Roy said all posts relating to safety, especially unmanned crossings, would be filled.

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