Railways has received sanction for a hike in fares from Prime Minister Narendra Modi which will make train journeys in India expensive, starting later this year, according to a report by The Indian Express. The green signal was given after a meeting of the infrastructure ministries in late April which was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. During this meeting, the state of Railways was reportedly reviewed. “Implement creeping increase in passenger fares” was one of the actionable points for the transporter issued by the PMO, as per the report.
Railways has agreed to a timeline of September 2017 for the move. However, the officials have denied that a hike is in the works till the move is actually announced. The meeting also mandated the Railways to work as ‘a commercial enterprise with focus on core operations to provide efficient and safe travel while enhancing customer experience’. Meanwhile, a top Railways official told The Indian Express that they are still trying to figure out what the exact statement means. “It is clear what ‘creeping increase’ means. Now we have to take a call on it. Nothing has been finalised yet,” the officer said.
As per the current model, Railways recover around 57 per cent of the total cost through passenger services while around 37 per cent amount comes from suburban services. However, it is only the AC III tier that fetches Railways profit but even that is neutralised because of the losses from the other classes. The social service obligation of the Railways, excluding staff welfare charges and law and order expenses, comes to around Rs 24,000 crore. Even 7th Pay commission report salaries payout is a burden.
Railways is also looking for a makeover by introducing services like trolley for catering, polite uniformed staff and onboard entertainment in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains from October this year, PTI reported. The aim of Indian Railways is to enhance the experience of passengers in these premium trains. The estimated cost of the makeover of 30 trains – 15 Rajdhani and 15 Shatabdi will be around Rs 25 crore.