New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) Indian train fares were hiked across the board for the first time in 10 years, with Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal saying this was needed to keep the world's second largest network going.
The new fares take effect from Jan 21 midnight.
The minister said he would focus on improving services and safety from the Rs.6,000 crore expected to be earned from the move. But he added that fares won't be touched during the annual railway budget in February.
"There has been no revision of basic fares for 10 years, and this has had a telling effect on railway finances," Bansal told reporters.
"It is imperative to go for a moderate fare hike immediately."
The fare for sleeper class goes up by two paise per kilometer on second class suburban trains, three paise per km on second class non-suburban trains, four paise per km on second class mail express trains, six paise per km on sleeper class, 10 paise per km for air-conditioned chair car, and three, six and 10 paise per km on air conditioned III, II and I class respectively.
Fares for first class and all air conditioned classes were revised in March 2012.
Bansal said the hike was needed to maintain and improve safety measures as well as cleanliness of trains, and to improve the condition of railway stations.
Then railway minister Mukul Roy of Trinamool Congress had rolled back a hike announced in the 2012 buget in general passenger categories by his party colleague Dinesh Trivedi.
Bansal said besides a slowdown in the economy, a likely reduction in the railway's Plan size to Rs.51,000 crore from the estimated Rs.60,000 crore, and lower freight targets by 13 million tonnes forced the fare hike.
Increasing input costs was another factor, he said.