Cabinet to moot Rail Tariff Authority plan soon

A Rail Tariff Authority to free fare revision from political interference is likely to be set up as an advisory body and a notification for it is slated to be issued shortly. The notification will be followed by an amendment in the Railways Act, 1989 in Parliament to set up the first pricing regulatory body in rail sector.The proposal for setting up the RTA is slated to come up for discussion before the Cabinet this week, Chairman Railway Board Arunendra Kumar said.

The legislative measure will be taken up after the cabinet approval, he said. The five-member RTA will be headed by a chairman and will recommend revision in passenger and freight fare structure from time to time taking into account increasing input cost and volatile market conditions.

The Cabinet is also expected to approve formation of a search committee for appointing RTA members and its chairman. Cabinet Secretary and Railway Board Chairman are members of the search committee.

However, the RTA’s recommendation will not be mandatory for railways as, according to existing law, only the Railway Board, and not any outside body, can fix the tariff.

RTA will be given mandatory powers only after the amendment of the Railway Act, 1989, in Parliament which is unlikely to happen in the UPA-II regime whose term comes to an end in a few months.

The next government will initiate the process of making RTA a mandatory body by amending the Railway Act, 1989 to insert a sub-section called Chapter 5 (A).
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