It will impact medicines, fish, tyres and newspapers, among other articles

The railways have increased the luggage and parcel rates by minimum 25 per cent that would impact medicines, fish, tyre and newspapers, among other articles.

The railway authorities justified the hike, saying there was need for parity with freight rates that were raised by over 30 per cent in March.

Denying that the decision was taken abruptly, the officials maintained they were striving for an increase since last year but the file never received attention in view of the West Bengal Assembly elections and, similarly, the top brass were against being bothered this year, busy with the Railway budget.

After the increase in freight rates, the railways found themselves in an embarrassing position when consignors sought to even transport grains as parcel, cheap as the rates were. Thus, there was need for parity, the officials said.

Luggage rates, pushed up by 25 per cent, will affect the general public who book motorcycles or big articles for transportation, while parcel rates are meant for commercial cargo — mostly medicines, fish, vegetables, tyres and tubes, to name a few.

The transportation cost of these commodities, or those allowed as parcel, will depend on whether these are to be transported by the Rajdhani Express or the Shatabdi superfast trains and the general passenger trains.

The rates for the three categories vary with the standard rate being the base rate. The minimum booking rate is Rs. 30 for a distance of 50 km, while weight of cargo too is a factor to be taken into consideration.

The standard base rate has been increased from Rs. 1.31 to Rs. 1.63 per 10 kg for 50 km, the premium rate from Rs. 2.63 to Rs. 3.28 per 10 kg for 50 km distance and the Rajdhani rate from Rs. 3.93 to Rs. 4.92 per 10 kg for 50 km distance. The transportation charges of newspapers too have been raised though the 45 per cent concession has been retained. The minimum rate is Rs. 2 for 250 km. Magazines will be booked at standard rates with no concession.

The railways hope to rake in an additional Rs. 370 crore in this financial year, with the revenue from luggage and parcel in 2011-12 amounting to Rs. 1,670 crore. There is a plan to increase the lease rate for entire rakes and parcel vans, which are usually for an agreed period of three years.

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