No hike in fares till next Railway Budget: Railway Board Chairman

Both passenger fares and freight charges have already been raised to net additional revenue of about Rs. 2,500 crore

There will be no hike in fares or any other kind of surcharge for passengers till the new government assumes office in 2014, Railway Board Chairman Arunendra Kumar clarified here on Wednesday. There would not be any hike till the next Railway Budget, he said.

It is clear that with the political temperatures rising, the UPA government has decided against imposing more burden on the passengers.

The coming Assembly elections could also be a factor weighing on the government.

As a matter of fact, the Railways have raised both passenger fares and freight charges under various heads to net additional revenue of about Rs. 2,500 crore over the next six months.

During his interaction, Mr. Kumar also ruled out the possibility of revising the criteria for bidding for electric loco and diesel loco factories in Bihar as demanded by the Chinese companies. He said the Union Cabinet in 2010 had made it clear that there was no reason to change the qualification bids as approved by it.

He, however, denied that the Chinese companies were not qualified as that would be determined only when the request for qualification (RFQ) is opened.

But ahead of that, the Railway Board is doing a due diligence of all the bidders after receipt of information that one of them had filed a false statement regarding the supply of equipment to the vendors.

Mr. Kumar said information was being sought from all the embassies about the equipment supplied to 94 vendors by the bidding companies across 34 countries.

The railways have set the ball rolling for increasing the speed of a few trains from among the premium class Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi to run at between 160 km/ph to 200 km/ph on short stretches.

The experiment would be done on select routes over short stretches only and not on the entire route of the chosen train. This would be done on the existing track. The drivers and guards would be put through special drill to understand the new safety parameters as they would be required to sight signals at greater frequency and remain alert to sight them, perhaps, each one of them every two minutes.

The initial objective is to prepare the railway system to shift to this mini-high speed before the dedicated freight corridors are constructed by 2017.

There is likely to be a reduction in journey time of these trains. In the case of the Mumbai Rajdhani, a reduction of about two to three hours is foreseen from the current journey time of about 17 hours.