Rail passenger fare hiked by 14.2 per cent

As part of ‘tough measures’ to revive the economy, the Narendra Modi government on Friday approved a steep hike in railway passenger fare and freight rates. Effective from 25 June  (post midnight of 24th), fares will be raised by 14.2 per cent while freight will be up by 6.5 per cent. As much as 10 per cent of the hike in the fare is a flat revision while the remaining 4.2 per cent is on account of a Fuel Adjustment Component as approved in the budget. Railway minister Sadananda Gowda had sought the approval of PM Natendra Modi to implement the hike because it was essentially a political decision for the new government.

On 16 May this year, this very proposal of hike was kept before former railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge but the political dispensation, having lost the election, had decided to not implement the hike and leave it for the next government to take a call on.

Gowda met finance minister Arun Jaitley earlier this week and made a case for the hike. Railways has pressed hard for the hike with the logic that the interim rail budget’s calculations were all based on the assumption that a hike would be effected. It had been communicated to the government that if a hike was not allowed then the government should cover the losses through a subsidy to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore.

Political reactions came thick and fast after the announcement. Former railway minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad slammed the Modi government for announcing ‘big’ hike in rail fare and freight, which he described as the ‘first salvo on common man’. ‘The BJP befooled people in the general election by promising achee din...they have fired the first salvo from toop (tank) on common man’s chest by announcing big increase in rail fare and freight,’ Prasad said.

‘I appeal to the prime minister to roll back the hike considering the welfare of the poor and the middle class people,’ Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa said. Taking potshots at the BJP’s poll slogan of ‘good days are to come’, Congress head of its media department Ajay Maken said the ‘gift’ by the Modi government is putting an additional burden on the shoulders of the middle class and the poor.
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