Commuters travelling on the suburban rail network will have to pay more for travel — at least Re1 to Rs2 for card tickets, and Rs10 to Rs60 on season tickets — if the railway ministry accepts the proposal forwarded by the state government.
The railways have been asked to increase the surcharge imposed on suburban tickets to fund the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) for upgrading the railway network in Mumbai and surrounding areas.
The MUTP project is crucial for improving suburban railways, the city’s only mass transport system at present. The three-phase project is being jointly funded by the World Bank, the state government and the railway ministry. A part of the repayment is to be made by levying surcharge on suburban commuters.
Currently, there is an 8% surcharge on tickets. An agreement between the state and railways stipulates that the surcharge was to be imposed on suburban tickets from 2003, and was to increase to 16% in 2006, and 24% in 2009. However, the railway ministry has been reluctant to increase the surcharge.
The issue came up for discussion on Tuesday in the meeting of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation, which implements the MUTP. The state government raised the issue of increasing the surcharge with officials from central and Western Railway. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) that handles the project on behalf of the state government told MRVC officials to push for the increase in surcharge when the latter asked the State for its share of the funding.
A top railway official said, “The state government also informed us that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has written a letter in this regard to the railway minister. It will be a political decision.”
Railway minister Mukul Roy is scheduled to visit Mumbai at the end of this month, when the state government likely to take up the issue again.