New Delhi: Even though Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal did not hike passenger fares but he announced a marginal increase in freight charges, supplementary charge, superfast charge, reservation charge, cancellation charge and Tatkal charge. The hike supplementary charge, superfast charge, reservation charge, cancellation charge and Tatkal charge means that even though basic fare has not increased but passengers would be paying more for the travel.
Bansal announced that dynamic fuel adjustment component has been introduced on freight rates from April 1, which will result in less than five per cent increase in rates, the minister said. 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.
Bansal justified the fuel adjustment component saying after the fuel price hike and electricity power hike, it was necessary to increase freight charge for the Railways to provide better services. "The passenger fare had to be increased in January due to the circumstances. But then there was an increase in fuel prices immediately after that. Fuel adjustment component will be added to make the adjustments. There is no increase in the basic fare, the increase in charges is for the Railways to provide better services," the Rail Minister said in a press conference after presenting the Rail Budget.
The Railway Minister during his budget speech highlighted that even as there were more trains being added, losses continued to mount for the railways. "The number of passenger trains has increased, yet the losses on these continues to mount," Bansal said.
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.
(With additional information from PTI)