MRVC proposes surcharge on Mumbai Suburban Railway fares

NITI Aayog also said the railways should enhance service delivery, achieving 95 per cent on-time arrivals by 2022-23. On Wednesday, the state government approved partially funding the project and the surcharge on fares. The proposed surcharge now awaits the nod of the Railway Board, NITI Aayog and the Cabinet.

MUMBAI: In what could raise suburban railway ticket fares by a rupee or more, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has proposed a surcharge of up to 25 per cent on fares in the Detailed Project Reporters (DPR) for upcoming railway projects. The money would be used to repay loans for the upcoming Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-III and III A. The railways plans to take loans amounting to Rs 21,000 crore to fund these projects, sources told.

On Wednesday, the state government approved partially funding the project and the surcharge on fares. The proposed surcharge now awaits the nod of the Railway Board, NITI Aayog and the Cabinet.

At present, commuters pay a surcharge of 18 per cent on fares, which is used to repay loans taken for MUTP-II A. The MRVC receives up to Rs 3 on each suburban ticket for a distance of more than 10 km. According to a senior MRVC official, with the proposed surcharge, fares may go up by Re 1 or Rs 1.5.

“We are expected to take a loan of Rs 7,000 crore for projects under MUTP-III and Rs 14,000 crore for MUTP-III A. To repay the huge loans, increasing the surcharge is required. The railways will decide how the surcharge of 24 per cent will be implemented,” a senior MRVC official said.

Projects under MUTP-III A worth Rs 54,000 crore include an elevated corridor between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Panvel, a new suburban railway corridor between Panvel and Virar, introduction of communication-based technology to improve signalling and procurement of 210 AC locals.

Projects under MUTP-III worth Rs 10,085 crore include quadrupling of the Virar-Dahanu corridor, Panvel-Karjat suburban corridor, Airoli-Kalwa Link and trespass control measures.

Listing goals for the national transporter, NITI Aayog has said that it should increase the speed of infrastructure creation from the present 7 km/day to 19 km/day by 2022-23, achieve “100 per cent” electrification of broad gauge track in the same period and also increase the average speed of freight and mail/express trains to 50 km/hr (from about 24 km/hr in 2016-17) and 80 km/hr (from about 60 km/hr), respectively. It has also said the railways should enhance service delivery, achieving 95 per cent on-time arrivals by 2022-23.

“By 2022-23, the railways should have a freight load of 1.9 billion tonnes and an improved modal share of 40 per cent of freight movement from the current level of 33 per cent. Increase the share of non-fare revenues in total revenue to 20 per cent,” it said.

Subhash Gupta from Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee said, “Any hike in ticket fares will only come into the picture after the Lok Sabha elections….”

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