Trivedi justifies fare hike; says it's in interest of railways

Trivedi justifies fare hike; says it's in interest of railways

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 17:49
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Trivedi justifies fare hike; says it's in interest of railways      New Delhi: Unfazed by the attack on him by his own party for raising rail fares, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi Wednesday justified the move saying it was a "conscious decision" in the best interest of the Railways.

"No comments," he said when asked whether he would quit as Railway Minister as his party, Trinamool Congress, was demanding a rollback of the fare hike.

He said the party leadership was not aware of the provisions made in the Railway Budget.

"It is a very big misconception that the Railways is run from the Writer's Building (headquarters of West Bengal government). She (Banerjee) did not know anything at all and there was no interference by her in any aspect of the budget," Trivedi said in reply to a volley of questions after he presented his maiden rail budget in Parliament.

Asked about Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay's demand for a rollback of the fare hike, he said "political parties have a right to their philosophy. There is nothing wrong in it.”

"Whatever decisions we have taken are conscious decisions, which we have taken with full responsibility in the interests of the Indian Railways and the country."

He said Mamata Banerjee only spoke as Chief Minister of a state about projects relating to Bengal, like any other Chief Minister.

Trivedi parried a question whether he agreed with his party's policies, saying "I don't want to get into politics. This press conference is only about the railway budget".

Asked whether the hike was "necessary", he said "you also know whether it was necessary" and said that without raising resources, no modernisation or safety or other works could be carried out.

Describing railways' poor financial condition, he said "Railways was getting into the ICU and I have pulled it out of ICU. You cannot have everything together."

He said the fare hike was a minimum burden as it had not been hiked in the last eight years.

Referring to 'Izzat' scheme which allows poor people to travel 100 km with a Rs 25 monthly pass, he said now they can travel upto 150 km.

Railways has proposed to increase passenger fares in all classes in the budget.

"Everybody including parliamentary committees, federations and passengers all wanted fare hike. Unless you have resources you cannot undertake modernisation," he said.

Criticising the Centre for not giving adequate budgetary support, Trivedi said I had asked for Rs 45,000 crore and got only Rs 24,000 crore. How do I keep myself afloat. The input costs including fuel cost have gone up many times."

The platform ticket has also been increased from Rs 3 to Rs 5.

"Though we have not calculated the percentage for fare hike, we are expecting to mop up Rs 4,000 crore from the increase," Trivedi said.

In order to insulate Railways from the impact of fuel hike, Railways has contemplated fuel adjustment component (FAC) in the basic fare structure.

"FAC is operational in airlines. We are contemplating and it has not been implemented yet," he said.

On freight, he said, a balancing situation has to be made between passenger and freight. Freight cannot be increased beyond a point otherwise goods transport will be shifted towards roads."

Trivedi said managing railways is a challenge but it also gives opportunities to serve people.

First Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 17:22
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