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Updated: October 29, 2012 23:54 IST

Bansal hints at increase in passenger fares

K. Balchand
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Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal at his office soon after taking charge, in New Delhi on October 29, 2012. Photo: V. Sudershan
The Hindu
Union Minister for Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal at his office soon after taking charge, in New Delhi on October 29, 2012. Photo: V. Sudershan

Even as an all-Congress team took charge of the Railway Ministry, the man at the helm, Pawan Kumar Bansal, hinted at raising the passenger fares.

Mr. Bansal and Ministers of State Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury assumed office on Monday.

“In public interest”

Talking to reporters soon after, Mr. Bansal said fares would not be raised for the sake of it but only to protect the interests of people by preventing the railways from collapsing.

Mr. Bansal has convened a meeting of the Railway Board on Tuesday to consider the entire gamut of issues relating to the financial and physical health of the railways, including need to raise passenger fares and improve services.

He was confident that people would approve of the hike if services were improved commensurately. “The endeavour will be to provide hassle-free access to the railways.”

Growing losses

According to an internal note, the railways bore an operating loss of about Rs. 21,000 crore in 2010-11 and the same, according to sources, were estimated to be about Rs. 22,000 crore in 2011-12 and to rise to Rs. 23,000 crore in the current financial year.

Of this, the loss on account of catering was Rs. 800 crore in 2010-11 and Rs. 2,350 crore in operating local trains. Hence, the loss on account of running long-distance trains was almost Rs. 17,500 crore.

His priority would be to ensure cleanliness besides safety and punctuality of trains. Steps would be drawn up to have clean toilets in trains and at stations and this issue would be given priority at Tuesday’s meeting, he stressed.

He promised to put technology to better use and give people an improved ticket purchasing system without technical glitches and harassment from touts.

Mr. Chowdhury said rail services needed to be improved as these had taken a hit in the past few years though he declined to put the blame on the Trinamool Congress. The number of complaints had gone up and effort would be made to address them ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Politics of populism should not be carried to a point that it hurt the people in the long run. The projects that were sanctioned for West Bengal would be expedited.

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For the first time, a minister speaking in a slightly comfortable manner. Yes we do
expect quality service BEFORE any hike and about a slight hike: there is reason as
everything else has gone high.
But, the honorable minister, first in the service improvement should be more trains
and stop the looting way of tatkal!
When I am able to book a trip, by the time I make Net Payment through my bank, i
ran out of booking! what a funny system. Booking experience felt as a running race!
Honorable minister, quality first please.

from:  abdul nasser chenglan
Posted on: Oct 29, 2012 at 18:40 IST

Im a Principal Consultant advising many overseas clients-Airlines and
Hotels for revamping their portals. IRCTC is one pathetic example in
India. They are the pioneers in e-Commerce for Travel in India. But the
portal is pathetic and needs lot to be done. They can call for tender
and give it to some good IT companies in that area to revamp and make it
proper...Please improve it..we are all suffering inspite of their recent
change in the portal. It has become worse.

from:  Naresh
Posted on: Oct 29, 2012 at 18:29 IST

I am not against fare in the ground that everything has become costilier. But Railway has to improve safety & security first, then the IRCTC website - it's pathetic. We need more trains and corresponding infrastructures. Congress we don't want another scam in Railway which was not at least in TMC time.

from:  Atanu
Posted on: Oct 29, 2012 at 16:08 IST

This is an Anti Poor Statement. If they increase the fare consider this is the last time Congress will be in power.

from:  Vicky
Posted on: Oct 29, 2012 at 15:40 IST

You need more trains! Who plans his journey 3 months in advance? And Tatkal booking? Forget it! In the reservation queue I was 3rd in line. Btw my chance came, the status went to waiting! So the available options are either book your ticket in tatkal and wait for it to get confirmed which is less likely. Else drop your plans. Gun point charge!
Indian Railways has become a synonym of looting!

from:  Suryansh
Posted on: Oct 29, 2012 at 15:39 IST
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