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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014
Rail Budget today: Safety cess on higher class fares likely
Agencies
New Delhi, March 14, 2012
First Published: 08:49 IST(14/3/2012)
Last Updated: 10:34 IST(14/3/2012)

"Rail Budget is going to be like whatever it should be," railway minister Dinesh Trivedi said in New Delhi while giving finishing touches to the documents of budget 2012-13.

Trivedi will present his maiden Rail Budget in the Lok Sabha after the Question Hour on Wednesday.

Asked about the possibility of fare hike, which has not been touched since 2003, he declined to comment saying, "no preview."

There are speculations about the possibility of safety cess being imposed on train fares to mop up Rs. 5,000 crore as recommended by Kakodkar Committee. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/3/14_03_12-metro14.jpg

Parliamentary committees, Planning Commission and railway unions have suggested fare hike in all classes to raise funds for the national transporter.

Given the financial condition of railways, Trivedi has to make a tight ropewalk catering to the need of massive upgradation of rail infrastructure and also improving passenger amenities.

Pitching for expansion of rail infrastructure, the railway minister may allocate significant funds while presenting the Rail Budget on Wednesday for Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC) to expedite its execution.

The ambitious Rs. one lakh crore project had recently got a big push with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directing central departments and states to give the project "highest priority."

At a high-level meeting held recently, it was decided that state governments would set up monitoring committees to resolve the issues especially land-acquisition in an expeditious manner so that the project is completed by the projected deadline of 2017.

The 3,300-km long project, which will criss-cross various states, shall transform India's economic transport facility.

Railways aims to shift a major portion of road transport to rail once the DFC connecting Delhi to Mumbai and Ludhiana to Dankuni in West Bengal becomes operational.

According to railway sources, the focus of the budget would be more towards automation and strengthening the existing infrastructure.

The Rail Budget could also announce about 80 new trains, including the popular Duronto class of trains.

Trivedi is likely to announce transforming more stations as Adarsh stations which will provide better facilities for passengers.

The budget may continue with the practice of not raising the fares and freight rates but the possibility of imposition of a safety cess may not not be ruled out, at least on the higher class fares.

The Rail Budget could announce two new coach factories in Kolar in Karnataka and Kutch in Gujarat. Incidentally, both the ministers of states for railways KH Muniyappa and Bharatsinh Solank come from these two states.

(With inputs from HT, PTI)


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