A fuel adjustment component will be shown separately on the ticket

Increase in train fares will now become a continuous process, rising as and when fuel prices are jacked up. And Tatkal tickets can be booked only a day ahead of journey. This scheme will come into effect within a week.

Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi told journalists that he had finalised a proposal to increase the fares across the board, but would like to get public feedback first.

The fares would have a fuel adjustment component (FAC), which will be shown separately on the ticket, besides the base price for all classes. As and when the fuel price is increased by oil marketing companies and the government, in the case of the administered prices, the fuel component of the fare will increase automatically. It will be based on a formula determined by the Railways.

Mr. Trivedi reasoned that the need to segregate the fuel component arose from the fact that fuel prices had shot up by more than 50 per cent in recent times, and it accounted for at least 25-30 per cent of the rail fare.

He said the plan would insulate the Railways from the frequent rise in fuel prices. The base price, too, would be increased in a transparent manner, after doing away with anomalies: the lowest price of a ticket is Re. 1, while the platform ticket costs Rs. 3.

With a separate fuel component, the fare increases will no longer form part of the budgetary proposals. Hence, the Railway Budget speech should not last more than 30 minutes, he said.

Mr. Trivedi said the Railways further restricted the period for booking Tatkal tickets to curb the misuse of the facility. The period was reduced from two days to one, excluding the day of journey. Tatkal tickets would be issued only on production of identity cards, and those booking online should provide their ID number. No refund would be allowed on confirmed tickets, with the exception of cancellation or late running of trains. Nor would duplicate tickets be issued and, if issued in exceptional cases, full fare and tatkal charges would be charged.

To further protect the public, agents would be debarred from booking tickets at counters and on the web between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and requisition could be made for only four passengers in one ticket.

He also announced the setting up of a Railway Station Development Corporation as a special purpose vehicle, with equity from IRCON and the Rail Land Development Authority. Though it would be 100 per cent owned by the Railways, the corporation would have a different model for roping in private sector companies to create various facilities at stations. The objective, he said, was to generate revenue to sustain the Railways and push up the country's strategic demands.

The States would now have to provide land free and bear 50 per cent of the cost of projects they wanted the Railways to execute. The States agreed to the proposal.

Mr. Trivedi also announced the launch of 26 new trains, extension of eight others and an increase in the frequency of five other trains.

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