Given the spiralling costs of fuel and other operational, administrative expenses, a hike in rail freight is inevitable, said General Manager, South Central Railway, P.K. Srivastava.

The Indian Railways had earlier announced a hike in passenger fare and freight, but took a U-turn because of the general elections, leaving the decision to the new government. “A freight hike is a must,” he said, pointing out that while gross freight earnings of the railways slumped by Rs. 5,000 crore, fuel bills and staff costs had gone up by Rs. 5,000 crore in the last financial year.

Over two crore people and 2.9 million tonnes of cargo are transported every day and with fuel bills shooting up 28 per cent to Rs. 28,471 crore during 2013-14. There was no other go but to hike freight charges, he said during an interaction with presspersons after inaugurating a static and a mobile help desk at Secunderabad station here on Tuesday.

Expanding on freight earnings, SCR’s target for the current year was 114 million tonnes, but they were confident of touching the 120-million tonne mark up from the 107 million tonnes the zone handled during the last financial year, Mr. Srivastava said.

Mr. Srivastava also inaugurated three battery-operated carts to collect soiled linen offloaded from trains on the platform and also for jet cleaning of coaches. SCR was committed to providing improved services to passengers, he said. A salient feature of the help desks was that they would take oral and written complaints and facilitate faster redressal of grievances at the Secunderabad station, which handles 240 trains and 1.6 lakh passengers a day.

Oral complaints in person and over the phone at the landline 040-27801111 apart, complaints over SMS on the mobile 81212-81212 would be acted upon, he said.

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