Rail fare hike put on the back burner

Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has cast into cold storage the proposals to hike passenger fares and to set up a mechanism for adjusting fares and freight charges for guarding against volatility of diesel prices.

Talking to reporters here on Wednesday, Mr. Bansal said it would take more time to firm up a decision on raising passenger fares for second and sleeper classes. He, however, would not rule out the hike.

Similarly, he said, the structure of the Rail Tariff Authority was still being debated and would require Cabinet clearance. He declined to set a timeline but said the recommendations of the body, once set up, would be an important input in revising passenger fares and freight charges.

Even as he stressed the need to improve the Railways’ finances and underscored the disadvantage of skewed cross-subsidisation to freight business, the Minister admitted that raising passenger fares was different from revising freight charges. Referring to the increase in haulage for container cargo, Mr. Bansal said he had received representations from private players and would consider their proposals but the rates notified stood as of now effective from December 1.

Denying that the national transporter was in the ICU, he said it was actually up and kicking, otherwise it would not be able to render all that was required of it. Different financial models were being considered, besides internal accruals, to give a push to priorities and thrust areas.

Budgetary support was one such avenue, with the Centre committing Rs.1.94 lakh crore during the 12{+t}{+h}Five-Year Plan, besides resorting to market borrowings and PPP mode investments.

As for filling up vacancies in the Railways, he said a process was under way to appoint 1.15 lakh group C and D employees out of two lakh slots. Some of them were in the final phase of recruitment.

The issue of leasing locos to Pakistan was still under discussion, and arrangements were being worked out, Mr. Bansal said.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/rail-fare-hike-put-on-the-back-burner/article4121610.ece

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Published in: on November 25, 2012 at 11:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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