In an interview Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi says if there is no rise in fares, the Indian Railways would come to a grinding halt. Edited excerpts:
You are heading a government that claims to belong to the aam aadmi. Yet, you have increased fares.
Wherever I went, whoever I spoke to, everyone told me, 'If you can't meet your expenses, why don't you raise fares?' We have seen so many accidents. Even passengers want better safety.
And, how much is the increase? Only a two-or three-paise rise per kilometre (km). For journeys of up to 35 km, the increase is Rs 2. You don't even get Rs 2 back in change sometimes. And, the Izzat service has been increased. So, there is virtually no increase. The philosophy of the increase was there must be minimum burden. Fares haven't been increased for eight years. Fuel prices have gone up so much. Compared to road transport, rail is still cheaper.
If I hadn't done this, believe me, the Indian Railways would have come to a grinding halt. It was headed for the ICU, and I have pulled it out. I begged the government for gross budgetary support to avoid raising fares. But Rs 4,000 crore alone went towards national projects like the development of the railways in Kashmir. Where was the money?
Text: Business Standard