Railway Minister drops new hints about passenger fare hike

Railway Minister drops new hints about passenger fare hikeRailway minister Pawan Bansal has declared that he was not contented with the existing practice of cross-subsidizing passenger fares with freight earnings, dropping a new hint that passenger fares could be hiked in near future.

Bansal advocated de-politicization of rail fare increase and said hinted that aware that there is no way other than hiking passenger fares to help the state-run transporter meet its safety and modernization targets.

To de-politicization of rail fare revision, he said, the government was working on establishing a rail tariff authority.

He added that the financial condition of state-run transporter was not good and there was need to improve it. Speaking on the topic, he said, "There is a need to do something about it (fare hike). But there are many reasons for not being able to do it."

He also pointed out that the ratio of passenger fare to freight is 1.3 to 1 in China, while in India it is 3 to 1.

However, Bansal refused to give any precise timeframe to increase rail fares. Many believe that any hike in rail fare by the government may provide the BJP-led Opposition with a potent weapon to paint the Congress-led UPA government as anti-common man.

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