New Delhi: Speaking to Zee News on the need of public-private partnership in Indian Railways, Railway Minister Pawan Bansal said that few areas like making new railway stations or developing old ones, freight terminals and rail lines to port and mines is very essential.
Citing an example, the minister said, New Delhi railway station can be converted into a world class station with airport-like facilities, if there is a public-private partnership.
With the increase in surcharge of AC rail tickets, there is comparison being done that tickets will be expensive and will be at par with airfare, to this Bansal replied, “See, there is no comparison between railways and airways. Demand and supply for both airways and railways are completely different. People have their own choices.”
An over five percent increase in freight tariff due to imposition of fuel adjustment component (FAC) from April and a hike in supplementary charges on super fast trains will fetch the Railways an additional revenue of Rs 4,683 crores in the next fiscal.
The FAC, which is being introduced on freight tariff from April one, would alone fetch an additional revenue of Rs 4,200 crore, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters earlier in the day after presenting the 2013-14 rail budget in Parliament.
The supplementary charges, to be levied on super-fast trains, include hikes in supplementary charges for these trains, reservation fee, clerkage charges, cancellation charges and tatkal charges, would together increase the revenue earnings by Rs 483 crore, he said.
A Cabinet note, to establish an independent Rail Tariff Authority to suggest revision in passenger fares and freight tariff, has been prepared by the Railway Ministry for inter-ministerial consultations.
"The Cabinet will take it up as soon as these consultations are over," Bansal said.
Justifying the hike in these charges, he said the move was aimed deterring touts and travel agents from booking bulk tickets, thereby depriving genuine passengers.
"This would result in improvement in the system.... There are no hidden charges. Nothing can be hidden."
However, the total outgo of the Railways, primarily due to increase in diesel prices and electricity tariff, would be more than Rs 5,100 crore, he said.
Bansal also said that the enhanced reservation fees is proposed to be abolished as a passenger-friendly measure. The development charge on rail tickets has already been abolished since January this year.
He, however, reiterated that there was no increase on basic passenger fares now, though he did not rule out imposition of FAC on ticket prices in the future.
"I have left it to Parliament to discuss this issue," he said, adding that the FAC was not being imposed on passenger fares "as of now" and the Railways would absorb the impact of Rs 850 crore on this count.
Maintaining that rail travel would not become dearer due to the revision in supplementary charges, the Minister said the hike was only about three percent.
"I have tried to improve financial health of railways. The growth of the Railways goes along with the growth of the GDP," he said.
Maintaining that the IRCTC e-ticketing site would be strengthened by this year-end, Bansal said it would be able to book 7,200 tickets per minute as against 2,000 at present. Its handling capacity would also be enhanced to accommodate 1.2 lakh users simultaneously as against the present level of 40,000.
Regarding revision in reservation charges, he said in AC-III class, it would be raised from Rs 25 to Rs 40 and AC-I and AC-II, it would be doubled from Rs 25 to Rs 50.
Asked about the Railway's profits, the Minister said the fund balances are expected to exceed Rs 12,000 crore in 2013-14 and the Ministry would strive to maintain the Operating Ratio at 87.8 percent.
He said the freight loading target has been increased by 40 million tonnes (MT) from 1007 MT in 2012-13 to 1047 MT.
While the passenger growth is expected to be at the rate of 5.2 percent, the gross traffic receipts are estimated to be about Rs 1,43,742 crore in 2013-14, marking an increase of over Rs 18,000 crore in 2012-13, Bansal said.
He said the Railways has received a general budgetary support of Rs 26,000 crore -- a Rs 2,000 crore increase compared to the 2012-13 budgetary allocation.
With PTI Inputs