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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Confusion over impact of fare hike

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 10, 2013
First Published: 01:37 IST(10/1/2013) | Last Updated: 01:39 IST(10/1/2013)

Be prepared to soon shell out more for your daily suburban train travel.

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After railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced an across-the-board fare hike for train travel on Wednesday, railway authorities tried to estimate what this hike would imply for Mumbaiites. The hike will come into effect on January 21 midnight.

Bansal had announced a per-km hike of 2 paise for second-class suburban travel, and 3 paise hike per km for first-class. According to estimates, around 75 lakh suburban commuters will have to shell out Re1 to Rs4 more for a one-way second class ticket. The monthly season tickets will go up by up to Rs. 20.

A railway ministry press release said that after the proposed hike, second class fares for a distance of 35km will go up by Rs. 2. The minimum-distance fare will go up from Rs. 4 to Rs. 5.

For first-class commuters, this is the fourth hike they're facing in less than 10 months. Apart from the partial fare hike last year, a service tax of 3.7% was levied recently on first-class travel.

However, confusion prevails over the exact impact of the hike. "We haven't received any official communication from railway board about the fare hike. We expect to get this in a couple of days,"  said a senior CR official.

There is no clarity over the railway board's decision to round up the fare to the nearest multiple of Rs5 and the proposal to drop the development surcharge. A senior WR official said if both these factors are changed, the suburban fare across longer distances might even show a slight dip. Another top CR official said instead of doing away with the development surcharge, the railway ministry may also decide to include it in the base fare.

The new fare hike has invited strong reactions from commuters and passenger associations, as just nine days ago, the Railways levied a 24% Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) surcharge on suburban travel for a distance of more than 10km. "The government is making a mockery of us through frequent hikes and subsequent rollbacks," said SJ Garg, president, Passenger and Traffic Relief Association.

Ram Naik, BJP leader and former railway minister for state said: "The common man is already burdened due to increase in prices of LPG, diesel, petrol. This is the last straw." Naik demanded a roll back and said the decision has hurt the common man and breached parliamentary convention.


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