Formation of Rail Tariff Authority at advance stage

New Delhi: The setting up of a Rail Tariff Authority (RTA) for rationalising fares and freight charges of cash-strapped Railways is at an advance stage and the government is expected to be moved soon with a proposal in this regard.

The authority, whose creation is being pushed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is expected to be a five-member body with a retired Railway Board member as its Chairman and four other Members from outside of Railways.

A meeting was held by the Prime Minister last week to finalise infrastructure targets for 2013-14 which was attended by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge and the then Chairman Railway Board Vinay Mittal besides Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia among others.

Treating it as a priority, the Railways Ministry has formulated broad contours of the proposal which has been circulated among various ministries for their comments.

“Constituting Rail Tariff Authority is a priority for us. The inter-ministerial note is in circulation and we are expecting the response in about a week,” new Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar said here today.

“After receiving the response from other ministries including Finance and Law, we will submit the proposal to the Cabinet for approval,” he said.

It will then go to Parliament in the coming session for certain amendments to the law.

The RTA, a big ticket reform in rail sector which is the first-of-its-kind for Railways, will suggest the level of tariff for both the freight and passenger fares from time to time taking into account the input cost (diesel and electricity) and volatile market conditions.

Asked about the review of the fuel adjustment component, Kumar said the review is due in October.