Starting January 1, more than 75 lakh local train commuters will have to shell out Rs.2 to Rs.4 more for their daily travel.
The reason: the railways will recover a surcharge of 16% for raising funds to help repay the loans taken for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).
The surcharge will be between Rs.2 and Rs.4 for daily second- and first-class tickets and will increase the cost of your monthly and quarterly second- and first-class season pass by Rs.20 to Rs. 80.
The surcharge will not apply for travel up to 10 km or less.
The railways have expected to collect Rs.160crore every year through the surcharge.
Since September 2006, the railways have been trying to introduce this additional surcharge, but it could not be imposed because of political pressure, said a senior railway official, on condition of anonymity. “The [Indian] Railways Board has finally decided to recover the surcharge from next year,” the official said, adding that the charge was supposed to be levied from September 2006 at the rate of 16% and it was to be revised to 24% by 2009.
Earlier, in March, the state had requested then railways minster Dinesh Trivedi to levy the surcharge so that it and the railways - partners in MUTP - could repay the loan taken from the World Bank. Three months ago, the state had sent a reminder to the Railway Board.
The railways started levying a surcharge in September 2003, and since then have collected Rs80 crore annually. The revenue is divided equally between the state government and railways.
The MUTP involves the upgradation of the railway network in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Passenger associations said it is unfair to levy the surcharge before completing the project. Subhash Gupta, member of the National Railway User’s Consultative Committee, said: “Without providing adequate number of services and infrastructure for a safer and better journey, this surcharge is not justified.”