The Central Government's decision to hike railway fares after almost a decade has upset passengers across India.
The decision faced opposition from commoners across the country who are already reeling under high inflationary prices amid a global economic slowdown.
"This will increase the burden of people, specially those with many children and big families. How will they manage, get the money from? The fare should not have been hiked," said Jasinder, a frequent rail passenger in Amritsar.
Meanwhile, passengers in Patna echoed on similar lines by stating that there was no guarantee if people would get the benefits that the Railways claim of bringing with the hike.
" Commoners travel in sleeper class so it is wrong to hike the fare. The fare should be increased in air-conditioned coaches because travelling in them have the capacity to pay more. It will break the backs of common man to pay more from their pockets. Secondly, can they guarantee that the facilities being promised will grow in the same proportion as the fare? If they can guarantee then people can pay; but no they can't guarantee," said Rupesh, a passenger.
"They will increase the fare and funds but the facilities are not up to the mark. Every second day there is a break down, trains run late, so many accidents occur. So the fare is being hiked but there are no facilities for the passenger to avail," added Brijesh, an everyday traveller on local trains in Mumbai.
However, some passengers supported a fare hike on the pretext that it would usher in much needed modernisation in the railways.
"The fare of railways should be increased, and in a timely manner, and so also the facilities, along with modernisation. If there is no modernisation, then things would be same as they were 50 years ago. So, the fares should increase every year, but not steeply," said Rajesh, a passenger in Lucknow
The government tried to raise the fares, unchanged since 2004, in March 2011, but protests from the Trinamool Congress forced the Centre to abandon the plan. Dinesh Trivedi, the then minister for railways, was forced to resign by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the issue.
The refusal by successive ministers to raise passenger rail fares has strained the finances of the railways, sapping its capacity to lay new track, modernise services and improve safety.
Railways have announced an across-the-board hike in fares with effect from January.
Making the announcement here yesterday, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the second class ordinary suburban fares have been raised by two paise per kilometer and second class ordinary non-suburban services by three paise per kilometer.
Second class mail and express train fares have been increased by four paise per kilometer and sleeper class by six paise per kilometer. Bansal said the AC Chair Car and AC 3 Tier, fares will go up by 10 paise per kilometer.
Bansal said that an additional 6,600 crore rupees revenue will be generated per year, out of which, Rs.1000 crores will be earned from AC fares. He said the fare hike announced after a decade had become imperative to bring down railway losses. (ANI)