Rail Budget: Passenger fares unchanged, freight up

PK Bansal

The Railway Budget for 2013-14 today spared passengers from any further hike in fares but raised various other charges on tickets along with freight tariff of less than 5 per cent.

Presenting the Budget in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who had effected an across-the-board hike in passenger fares only last month, said he does not intend to pass on the impact of deregulation of diesel price for now and the Railways will absorb a burden of Rs 850 crore on account of this.

The first Congress minister to present a Railway Budget in 17 years, Bansal adopted Fuel Adjustment Component introduced by former Trinamool Minister Dinesh Trivedi which will be dynamic in nature and change in either direction with revision in fuel cost twice a year.

He said this may result in an upward revision of freight tariff, effective from April 1, this year, by less than 5 per cent.

In his 75-minute speech which was drowned in opposition slogan-shouting towards the end, Bansal said there are a number of supplementary charges which have not been revised for last several years.

"I propose to effect marginal increase in some of these. These include supplementary charge for superfast trains, reservation fee, clerkage charge, cancellation charge and tatkal charge," he said, without specifying the quantum of these charges.

Bansal, however, proposed to abolish the concept of enhanced reservation fee with a view to simplifying the fee structure, having already discontinued development charge in January this year.

In January, the minister effected an across-the-board hike in passenger fares that would net Rs 6,600 crore a year.

However, the subsequent hike in diesel price and electricity charges put an additional burden of Rs 3,300 crore on the railways which is projected to see a loss of Rs 24,600

crore in the current financial year, up from Rs 22,500 crore in 2011-12 in passenger traffic segment.

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