Your monthly train commute is soon going to pinch your pockets. The cost of your monthly season ticket may go up by 33% in the railway budget, which will be presented on Thursday.
While commuters expect that the fare revision will result in improved amenities such as more toilets, foot overbridges, escalators and ticketing facility, activists are hoping that the 2015-16 rail budget will not be a disappointment.
In the 2014-15 budget, the railway fare was increased by 14.2% and the cost of the suburban season ticket was almost doubled. The decision to charge for 30 trips resulted in major backlash from commuters.
Following this, the railway ministry revoked its decision, and commuters now pay for 15 trips.
However, things are about to change this year, with the railways planning to charge for 20 trips.
Nearly 75 lakh commuters use the suburban train network daily. Of this at least 50 lakh passengers have a season ticket. If a 33% hike is implemented, a second-class monthly season ticket from CST to Thane will cost around Rs285, instead of the current Rs215. A first-class season ticket on the same route will cost Rs990 instead of the current Rs745.
Similarly, a second-class season ticket from Churchgate to Virar will go up to around Rs418 from Rs315, and a first-class pass will be available for Rs1,556 instead of the current Rs1,170.
The Western and Central Railway witness at least 2-3% passenger growth annually. But the facilities available do not match the passengers’ needs. Transport activists said though the platforms had been extended for 12-rake trains, the foot overbridges were still not constructed at many stations.
Also, escalators and lifts announced in 2012-13 and 13-14 rail budgets have not been installed.
“We don’t mind if the fares are revised if the infrastructure and facilities are made available on time. But promises made in 2012 are still to be fulfilled. Why should we pay more?” said Aniket Ghamandi, a transport activist.
In 2014-,15 the railways had announced WiFi services in all A1 and A category stations (high traffic) and select trains, parking-cum-platform combo tickets, installation of coin-operated automatic ticket vending machines, but none of these are being implemented in the Mumbai division.
“Several announcements, including the arrival of 72 new rakes and AC train in the suburban section, are still just promises. If they are not able to complete major infrastructure projects, at least basic facilities such as toilets and escalators should be provided to commuters,” said Subhash Gupta, member of Divisional Railway User’s Consultative Committee (DRUCC).
A senior railway official, however, claimed the promises made in the previous budget have been kept. “Work is being carried out. Only a few long distance trains are remaining,” he said.