Free Press Journal

Sources say govt may stagger fare hike for suburban trains


New Delhi: Even as the Centre and the Ministry of Railways are in no mood to roll back the hike in passenger fare and freight rate despite protests from various quarters, they are mulling staggering the hike for suburban trains, sources in the rail ministry said.

A hike of 14.2% in passenger fares and around 6.5% in freight rates is set to be applicable effective Wednesday.

Earlier today, Bharatiya Janata Party Members of Parliament from Maharashtra and those from its ally Shiv Sena met Railway Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda and voiced their concerns over the hike.

According to media reports, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray spoke to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the issue. Their concerns are primarily to do with the Mumbai suburban rail network. Maharashtra will be going to polls later this year, and Shiv Sena as well as the state unit of the BJP are seemingly worried that the fare hike may turn the tide against the National Democratic Alliance in the state.

According to estimates, revised fares on the Mumbai suburban network will see steep hikes–more than double in some cases–particularly in the case of monthly season passes for various classes of travel.

Sources at the Ministry of Railways said a roll back was nowhere on the government’s radar, however, some relief could be handed out to commuters of the suburban train systems with a staggered rollout.

The timing is of particular importance as the new fares are effective from Wednesday. Therefore, if at all there is any change in the rollout plan, it is most likely to be announced later today.