NEW DELHI: Ahead of the rail budget for 2013, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Wednesday announced a fare hike with effect from January 21-22 midnight. Addressing a press conference Bansal said that having hiked the railway fares now, the government will not increase the tariff in the budget.
This is the first railway fare hike in ten years. The new fares imply a 2 paise per kilometre increase in second class ordinary suburban tariffs. The fare for second class non sub-urban travel has gone up by 3 paise per kilometre.
Travel by Second Class Mail and Express trains will be costlier by 4 paise per km, while it will be 6 paise in Sleeper Class. Travellers by AC Chair Car and AC Three Tier will have to shell out 10 paise more per km, First Class by 3 paise, AC Two Tier by 6 paise and AC First Class by 10 paise.
The proposals will rake in an additional Rs 1200 crore between January 21 and March 31 this year, the minister said announcing the decision and did not rule out a hike in the freight tariff.
Justifying the hike, Bansal said, "Input costs have increased immensely while rail fares have remained stagnant. In fact there was a decrease in lower class fares. Given economic slowdown, we have not been able to so far achieve this year's targets in either freight or fare side." The hike was imperative, he said.
Reacting to the news, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad slammed the government's move to hike the railways tariffs.
In the last railway budget, government hiked the fares only to roll them back, except for AC-1 and II passengers.
The last across-the-board hike had happened at the start of the millennium, when Nitish Kumar held the charge. His successors fought shy of taking the "politically incorrect" step.