Activists demand debate on plan to revise railway fares
The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation’s (MRVC’s) proposal to restructure suburban rail tariff has invoked mixed reactions from commuter associations and transport experts. While some passenger activists supported fare rationalisation to make the system sustainable, others demanded a public debate on the proposed restructuring as any tweaking in tariff will affect 75 lakh commuters.
MRVC has proposed reduction in first class fares and in minimum distance fares at the recently concluded Rail Vikas Shivir, New Delhi. Prabhat Sahai, chairman and managing director, MRVC, said, “This idea was proposed at the Rail Vikas Shivir. If the railway ministry approves it, it will be taken forward.”
For 75 lakh suburban commuters, this could mean cheaper first-class tickets and a 100% rise in the minimum second-class fare from the existing Rs5 to the proposed Rs10.
The planning authority for suburban railways has also proposed that the minimum first-class ticket fare, which now ranges between Rs50 and Rs70, be slashed to Rs25 to get passengers travelling in second-class compartments to travel in the first class. It has also proposed reducing the maximum fare for suburban tickets from Rs35 to Rs25.
Gaurang Damani, member of Divisional Railway User’s Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Central Railway (CR), said, “Railways is the cheapest and fastest mode of transport that connects the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The current fare of Rs5 for minimum distance is low and so, some rationalisation in fare was overdue. However, the rationalisation in fare should come with proportionate improved quality in suburban train services.”
Kailash Gupta, member, Zonal Railway User’s Consultative Committee (ZRUCC), Western Railway (WR), said, “The railways should work on increasing their non-fare box revenue instead of burdening commuters. Besides, this proposed restructuring should be debated upon in public domain.”