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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Rail hike is anti-poor, will protest across country: Trinamool

IANS  Kolkata, January 09, 2013
First Published: 20:00 IST(9/1/2013) | Last Updated: 20:01 IST(9/1/2013)

Strongly opposing the hike in railway fares announced on Wednesday, the Trinamool Congress called it "anti-poor" and "anti-common man", and said it would begin protests throughout the country from Thursday.

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"The Trinamool Congress opposes the railway fare hike announced today. It is anti-poor people, it is anti-common people," former railway minister and Trinamool general secretary Mukul Roy told mediapersons.

"From tomorrow (Thursday), 5pm onwards, the Trinamool will start protests all over the country against the increase in railway fares," Roy said.

To a query, Roy said he did not agree with the opinion expressed by railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and the railway board that there was no other option before the government.

"I don't agree with their opinion. There are so many ways and means to increase the revenue. At least for six months I was railway minister. I think there is no need for hiking railway fare at this moment."

Asked whether during his stint as railway minister he had made alternative proposals to raise railway revenue, Roy said he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and top railway board members.

"I even made a statement on the floor of parliament on how to protect the railways' interests without increasing fares and how to go for other means to increase revenue," he added.

Bansal on Wednesday announced a hike in train fares across the board, the first time in ten years. The hike will take effect from January 21 midnight.

The fare for sleeper class has been increased by six paise per kilometre. The hike is 10 paise per kilometre for air-conditioned chair car as well as three-tier classes, Bansal told reporters in Kolkata.

The minister said that the hike was "imperative" to maintain and improve safety measures and cleanliness of trains and upgrade railway stations.

He further said there would be no hike in fares in the annual rail budget to be  presented in February.

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