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Srinand Jha, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, March 15, 2012
Five unions representing 14 lakh railway employees have strongly backed railways minister Dinesh Trivedi's fare hike proposal and threatened a countrywide strike in the event of a rollback.
"We do not agree with any attempt to rollback the fare hike, as it will adversely impact not only the safety of rail travel but also the financial stability and sustainability. A rollback without matching subsidy from the general exchequer will push the Indian Railways on the brink of collapse", representatives of five unions said in a letter to PM.

"Policymakers have usually addressed concerns and issues raised by us in the past. But if the government brings rollback without granting a matching subsidy, the unions may call for a hartal," All India Railwaymen Federation general secretary Shiv Gopal Mishra said.

Railways finances have been in a precarious state, with the Operating Ratio-OR (money earned against one paisa spent) having hovered around the higher side of the 90's in past years. Against the OR of 94% last year, the figure climbed to the dangerous mark of 95% this year. What this means is that for every rupee earned, the Railways spends 95 paise.

Populist policies of previous ministers is seen being largely responsible for the distressing financial position of the railways.