Rail Budget 2014: Mallikarjun Kharge signals end of 'peeping era' on passenger fares

Feb 12 2014, 22:19 IST
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Rail Budget 2014: Rail Budget 2014: "Determination of rates will no longer be an exercise behind veils where the Railways and the users could only peep covertly at what was happening on the other side," says Mallikarjun Kharge. (PTI)
SummaryAs Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge presented Rail Budget 2014 shocking scenes marred LS.

Passenger fares and freight rates were left untouched today in the interim Rail Budget 2014 presented by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, which highlighted plans for the involvement of private sector and FDI as part of efforts to modernise the largest transport network in the country.

Presenting the interim budget for four months in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said an independent Rail Tariff Authority is being set up to rationalise fares and there was a proposal to expand dynamic pricing of tickets in line with the airline industry.

Rail Budget 2014: Mallikarjun Kharge Full Speech

He announced the launch of 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains in the coming year and providing rail connectivity to Katra and Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast.

Kharge's budget speech was cut short because of continued slogan-shouting and unruly behaviour by MPs from Andhra Pradesh, with even four Ministers trooping into the Well over the Telangana issue.

The Minister also announced starting of more high-speed trains and said the Ministry was exploring low-cost option of semi high-speed trains on select routes moving at 160-200 km per hour.

The budget speech did not touch upon passenger fares or freight rates. Kharge later said no hike has been proposed.

Annual Rail Plan has been pegged at Rs 64,305 crore with a budgetary support of Rs 30,223 crore.

Referring to the premium AC special train introduced on Delhi-Mumbai sector with shorter advance reservation period, Kharge said, "The fare charged includes a dynamically varying premium over Tatkal fare of Rajdhani services."

"Such dynamic pricing was widely appreciated by the users ... we are considering operation of this scheme on a larger scale," he said.

On the government's intent to mobilise resources for the cash-strapped transporter, he said investment in Railways was being stepped up through partnership with the private sector.

"Apart from attracting private investment from domestic investors in rail sector, a proposal is under consideration of the government to enable FDI to foster creation of world-class rail infrastructure," he said.

Kharge said projects in pipeline involving private partners through public-private partnership (PPP) route related to rolling stock manufacturing units, modernisation of railway stations, multi-functional complexes, logistics parks, private freight terminals, freight train operations, liberalised wagon investment schemes and Dedicated Freight Corridors.

The Rail Land Development Authority, set up with a "challenging target" of Rs 1,000 crore, had already raised Rs 937 crore, he

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