The announcement of hike in rail fares by the new railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday will make city residents travelling to Delhi by AC chair car and executive class an extra Rs. 26 over the current fares from January 21 midnight.
The hike adds up to Rs. 26 since the minister has announced a hike of 10 paisa per km for both these classes.
Those travelling in morning Shatabdi would now have to pay Rs. 477 compared with existing Rs. 451 while fares for evening Shatabdi would be Rs. 550 against existing Rs. 524 for a travel of 266 kilometres.
A hike of 10 paisa, 6 paisa and 10 paisa per km have also been announced for AC I, II and III tiers, respectively. For sleeper class, hike of 6 paisa was announced.
Meanwhile, the rail fare hike has received a mixed response from city residents, who were clearly caught unawares. Many asserted that the hike after a decade was justified only if railway authorities ensured more facilities to the travelling public.
On the other hand, those travelling to Mumbai would henceforth shell out Rs. 167 extra for travel in AC I tier. For AC II and AC III tiers, additional Rs. 100 and Rs. 167, respectively, would have to be paid.
It is pertinent to mention here that in the last rail budget, a hike of 30 paisa per km in executive class, 10 paisa for AC I tier and 15 paisa for AC II tier was announced. Following this, service tax on fares was also increased.
Local city MP and new railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal caught many unawares by the sudden announcement on hike in fares, and that too just about two months before the new rail budget.
Railway officials in the city were unaware of the development till late evening and said that they had no intimation on the matter.
"The hike has been announced in Delhi and officials in the city had no indication. Details will be available only when we get the new fares in black and white," remarked Chandigarh railway station superintendent Praveen Kumar.
Sheena Salwan, a software engineer, said, "I have my family in Delhi and visit them frequently. The food quality in Shatabdi has really deteriorated. If the hike has been announced, railway authorities should also work on improving the quality of food on trains."
Aastha Saini, a student at Government College of Architecture, said, "Many a times during summers, the AC is not working in coaches of Shatabdi. If the fare has now been hiked, such things should not happen. Also, more coaches need to be added to take care of passenger rush during peak seasons."
Rohit Sharma, working as a graphic designer in the city, opined, "The hike is completely unjustified as train travel has become more cumbersome. The food served on trains is of poor quality and even washrooms aboard trains are unclean most of the times. Authorities need to work on these basic facilities before announcing any hike."
New afternoon Shatabdi fares announced, bookings open
Bookings for the new Shatabdi, the third train to ply between Chandigarh and Delhi from January 14, began on late Wednesday afternoon.
Fares have been fixed at Rs. 513 for AC chair car and Rs. 1,080 for executive class. The fare will apply till January 21, after which 10 paisa per km hike would be included. The fares are inclusive of food and would be same for afternoon and evening Shatabdis, unlike fares for present Shatabdi service whose fares are different for morning and evening trains.
The third Shatabdi would chug off from the city at 11:40am and reach Delhi at 3pm. In the evening, it would start from Delhi at 7:15pm and reach the city at 10:35pm.
Fares applicable from January 21 midnight after hike announced:
Morning Shatabdi from city to New Delhi
AC chair car: Now Rs. 451, after hike Rs. 477
Executive class: Now Rs. 960, after hike: Rs. 986
Evening Shatabdi from city to New Delhi
AC chair car: Now Rs. 524, after hike: Rs. 550
Executive class: Now Rs. 1075, after hike: Rs. 1101
Afternoon Shatabdi from city to New Delhi
AC chair car: Now Rs. 475, after hike: Rs. 501
Executive class: Now Rs. 990, after hike: Rs. 1016
Jan Shatabdi from city to New Delhi
Now Rs. 358, after hike Rs. 384
Himalyan Queen from city to New Delhi
Now Rs. 302, after hike Rs. 328
Chandigarh station to Mumbai central (distance 1,670km)
AC I tier: Now Rs. 3505, after hike Rs. 3672
AC II tier: Now Rs. 2025, after hike Rs. 2125
AC III tier: Now Rs. 1288, after hike Rs. 1455
Sleeper class: Now 457, after hike Rs. 557