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Rlys rules out passenger, freight fare reduction

There will be no reduction in passenger and freight fares on Indian Railways, said Railway Minister Lalu Prasad.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2006 14:35 IST

There will be no reduction in passenger and freight fares on Indian Railways, which consumed diesel worth Rs 6,000 crore in 2005-06, even though global oil prices are showing a declining trend.

"We have not not increased fare even when oil (diesel) prices were raised... We purchase diesel worth Rs 6,000 crore and the loss was compensated through other sources", Railway Minister Lalu Prasad said addressing the Economic Editors' Conference in the national.

Crude prices have declined from a high of 75 USD per barrel in August this year to around 58 USD a barrel now.

The Minister, who is credited with the steering the Railways toward profits without resorting to hike in passenger fares, appeared annoyed with reports that described the turnaround as a media hype.

While top business schools in India and abroad are studying the "magical transformation, the so-called intellectuals are worried whether this turnaround would be or not," he said.

"They are also finding it difficult to understand how the Railways could achieve a fund balance of Rs 16,000 crore and an operating ratio of less than 80 per cent without privatisation, retrenchment and raising of passenger fares".

The Indian Railways has earned Rs 13,000 crore surplus during 2005-06 and is expected to earn Rs 20,000 crore this fiscal.

Prasad explained that the turnaround was not merely a consequence of economic boom, but was on account of historical shift in thinking, strategy and style of working.

"Increased volumes, reduced unit cost, decreased tariff, focus on competitiveness and market share are the underlying mantra of this strategy," Prasad said.

First Published: Nov 08, 2006 14:35 IST