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Fare hike unlikely in upcoming Rail Budget

Despite financial constraints, the Railways is unlikely to increase passenger fares in the forthcoming budget, which is slated to be presented in the last week of February.

business Updated: Jan 16, 2011 11:17 IST

Despite financial constraints, the Railways is unlikely to increase passenger fares in the forthcoming budget, which is slated to be presented in the last week of February.

Sources in railway ministry said that even if there is a 10% hike in passenger fares across the board, which can generate Rs 2,000 crore, it will still be a paltry amount in comparison to the total expenditure and revenue earnings.

There, however, might be minor changes in freight rates but the hike will be minimal in view of persistent competition from roadways transporters, the sources said, adding, total earnings of Railways for 2010-11 is pegged at around Rs 94,765 crore.

It is possible that the budget may also mention the introduction of 'Train sets', a new class of trains where the locomotive and coaches are a single unit, they said.

According to insiders in the ministry, the proposal is, however, facing stiff resistance from some quarters in Railway Board given the exorbitant cost involved and the compatibility of such trains with the network.

There is a proposal to import these 'Train sets', which are similar to TGV (France), ICE (Germany) and Shinkansen (Japan).

While the new-age train 'Rake' costs around Rs 15 crore, a 'Train set' will cost Rs 72 crores, according to sources.

The Railway Time Table Committee, which met in Pune recently, went through several such proposals and it is believed that they reworked on many schedules and frequencies.

There are also talks of introducing dedicated 'Tatkal trains'.

A common SMS-based helpline for lodging complaints in all the zones will also find space in railway minister Mamata Banerjee's speech.

Her task will, however, be oriented towards finding a solution to pull the Railways out of the financial mess it finds itself on Sunday. The operating ratio is already hovering at around 95.3%.

The burden of the Sixth Pay Commission and losses incurred in freight loading is weighing heavily on the ministry.