Railway fare hike: Financial woes force Railways to hike fares for 1st time in 5 years

NEW DELHI: In its first fare hike in five years, the railways on Tuesday announced increase in passenger charges that will see ticket prices rise by Rs 55-60 if you travel between Delhi and Mumbai or Kolkata on a Rajdhani from Wednesday onwards but did not touch suburban train fares.

Though the fare increase is modest, in the range of 1-4 paise per km for different classes of travellers, the railways expects to generate an additional about Rs 2,300 crore annual revenue at a time when its finances are under acute stress.

Railway fare hike: Financial woes force Railways to hike fares for 1st time in 5 years

A hike had become pressing considering revenue shortfall during this fiscal (up to November-end) was close to Rs 20,000 crore. The operating ratio has increased to 121% till November-end during the current financial year as compared to 113% in the same period in 2018-19. Operating ratio is the amount spent to earn Rs 100, a higher ratio indicating poor financial health.

While opting for an increase on long-distance travel, the railways has not burdened passengers travelling in suburban trains and season tickets have also been excluded from the hike. With nearly two-thirds of the passenger traffic accounted for by suburban rail, the segment accounts for a large share of losses for the state transporter. Those who have already pre-booked the tickets won’t have to pay extra.

Officials said the government decided not to touch commuters in suburban trains since they often board trains multiple times a day and a hike would have escalated their costs. “Long- distance passengers travel more occasionally and since the hike is minimal, it won’t pinch them in a big way,” said a railway ministry official. The railways claimed suburban passengers have been left out, keeping the “affordability concerns of daily commuters”.

According to an official statement, the increase in fare per km is 1 paisa for ordinary non-suburban classes (second class ordinary, sleeper class ordinary, first class ordinary) and 2 paise for mail/ express trains in non-AC class (second class mail/ express, sleeper class mail/ express, first class mail/ express). The hike for all AC tickets across trains will be 4 paise per km applicable for Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto, Vande Bharat, Tejas, Garib Rath, Antodaya and Jan Shatabdi trains.

“There will be no change in charges for superfast charge, reservation fee. GST, as applicable will be levied,” said the official statement. Going by the norm, if a passenger is taking Delhi-Kolkata Rajdhani, the total fare (AC-2) would be dearer by around Rs 61.

Last week, Railway Board chairman V K Yadav hinted at a hike in passenger fares, saying the railways would soon “rationalise” fare and freight charges. He added freight charges were already high. TOI on November 27 had first reported how the PMO asked the railways to increase passenger fare and asked it to “raise public awareness about the need for rationalisation”. Subsequently last month, it had asked the ministry to “explore possibilities of scheduled increase in passenger fare”.

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All Credit Goes to TOI

Times of India

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