The Railway Budget may have ruffled political feathers by raising passenger fares, yet industry associations and corporate captains praised the Budget for passenger fare rationalisation. There were expectations that introduction of public-private-partnership (PPP) would go a long way in the
development of railway infrastructure.
"After a long gap of eight years, Railways in a commendable and positive step has proposed a hike in passenger fares, which could raise average passenger revenues by up to 10%, and help put railways finances back on track," said Abhaya Agarwal, executive director, Ernst & Young.
Industry associations CII, FICCI and Assocham endorsed the hike in passenger fares.
"This is indeed welcome as it will reduce, even if marginally, the cross subsidisation of passenger fares from freight," said Rajiv Kumar, secretary-general, Ficci.
However, concerns were raised on the increased freight charges and poor fiscal health of railways that have been worsening.
"Freight rationalisation announced earlier may partially push up the cost of selling steel," said CS Verma, chairman Steel Authority of India (SAIL).
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on its part blamed the government for making backroom adjustments, in the garb of public-private partnerships, to hand over expensive railway land to multinational firms.