Rly wants fare hike again

Pressure is mounting on Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to raise train fares once more due to the financial constraints.

The Railways' internal assessment Tuesday showed that after a gap of five years, its operating ratio, has come down to 89.6.The fall in ratio has been attributed to the recent fare hike and revision in freight rates last year. But if the effect of recent diesel price hike is factored in, the ratio is likely to cross 93 the next financial year.

The Railways had aimed to reduce the ratio to 84 when the TMC headed the ministry. But instead it rose to 95 due to the rollback of fare hikes proposed in the last Budget. In the remaining period of this financial year, Railways plans to earn an extra Rs 1,200 crore from the fare hike. But with diesel price rise, the projection has come down a little over Rs 600 crore, sources said.

Officials of the Railway Board have advised Bansal to go in for another hike as the recent hike stands as good as undone. Sources said there is a need to further rationalise sleeper and AC-III tier fares.

While planning for the ongoing budgetary exercise, it was found that the TMC had sanctioned at least 42 projects of new lines, gauge conversions and doublings in West Bengal alone. The money for this is yet to be worked out. The upcoming budget may earmark more money on passenger amenities at stations.

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