Rly Experts For Hike In Passenger Fares

New Delhi, January 23: | Updated: Jan 24 2003, 05:30am hrs
The pace of rationalisation of freight-fare rates by the Railways should not ideally slow down. But former railway officials doubt whether ahead of elections, the political leadership will hike passenger fares or not.

Participating in a pre-railway Budget discussion under the aegis of Centre for Transportation Research & Management, former executive director SP Singla said at least the ministry should make a strong representation to increase passenger fares and let the responsibility of rejecting it be on the political leadership. He also felt that the Railways had got back freight traffic this year and it should sustain it through the same exercise conducted last year.

Constitution of a permanent tariff committee was among other suggestions which emerged during the discussion. Such a committee could work on the lines of agriculture pricing committee and also do research based on which policy decisions should be made.

Former financial commissioner AV Poulose called for the need to spell out a national railway policy. He said that nothing much can be expected from passenger fares in view of elections in states.

A case was also made for making the Railway Budget more than an accounting exercise. It should be a policy statement, said former member traffic CM Khosla.

Terming the Rs 17,000-crore special railway safety fund as a shame, he said the amount should have been provided by the Railways.

He suggested that cost reduction through trimming of staff might not be the right thing to do, but it should be through giving up of a 15 per cent passenger services.