The Railway budget is more of a burden on train travellers, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said on Tuesday.

In a statement here, the Polit Bureau said the Railway Minister had made a “false claim” that fares were not being increased. After the raising of passenger fares by 20 per cent recently, the budget provisions would definitely add to the fares further. The fuel surcharge would result in the fares going up twice a year. There was also an increase in reservation, cancellation and tatkal charges and fares of superfast trains.

The five per cent increase in freight charges across the board would have a cascading effect on inflation.

As for the proposal for creation of an independent Rail Tariff Authority, the CPI(M) said this would pave the way for continuous upward revision of freight rates and passenger fares.

Financial crisis

But the budget made no serious effort to overcome the financial crisis afflicting the Railways. The crisis was deliberately caused in the past three years by enhancing the number of projects, and spending on advertisements, foundation-laying ceremonies and other activities.

The Minister had scaled down targets for new lines, gauge conversion and acquisition of railway stock in order to reduce the operating ratio.

The annual plan target was not achievable as the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model was a failure. Not a single investment had come in the PPP model in the Railways, the party said.

The freight target was increased but the target for acquisition of wagons was reduced by 2000, making it difficult to achieve the freight target.

Though there was a serious increase in train accidents, there was no proposal to make rail travel safe, the Polit Bureau said.

It demanded that the increase in fares through various means and the rise in freight charges be rescinded.