Trivedi not in favour of passenger fare hike
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Last Updated: Thursday, July 14, 2011, 21:58
New Delhi: Newly appointed Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on Thursday hinted at following in the footsteps of his predecessors as he said there could be other sources of revenue generation than hiking passenger fares.

Interacting with media on his first day at Rail Bhawan in the backdrop of the Kalka Mail accident, Trivedi also said railways is in the process of filling the vital safety related posts as well as appointment of board members.

"The easiest thing to do is raise passenger fare. It is an easy option. But we should appreciate the fact that the poor people cannot even afford a hike of Rs 2. Therfore, we should explore other avenues also to generate revenue," he said.

Referring to former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's efforts to establish railway's own captive power plant to reduce the power bill, he said similar "out of box" solutions have to be found out for revenue generation before anyone can think of raising the fares.

Trivedi's reaction comes amid persistent demand from the Planning Commission and from its railway unions for raising passenger fares which has not been raised for over eight years now.

Trivedi laid emphasis on proper exploitation of its vast land bank and other existing rail infrastructure to raise funds while acknowledging the current financial position that railway is in today.

The new Railway Minister announced the launch of railway debit cards which should be available at stations for purchasing tickets and items from vendors.

Trivedi reiterated his resolve to implement Vision 2020 prepared by his leader Mamata Banerjee for addressing issues plaguing the Railways and envisioned a future where "stations look like airports and locomotive cabins resemble a plane's cockpit".

Spelling out his 11-point agenda as the new Railway Minister, he laid emphasis on improving productivity efficiency, expansion of rail network, creation of new community assets and modernisation of rail stations through PPP mode and revival of Rail-Tel.

He also underlined implementation of modern e-signalling system and advanced Anti-Collission Device to avert train accidents and implementation of GPS system for real time tracking of trains.

Besides, he resolved moves for timely completion of East West Dedicated Freight Corridor project which has seen exponential cost escalation and delays.

He said improving rail safety is an ongoing process and they have to generate safety related funds.

"Money has to come whether it is from the system or in a way of subsidy from the government because safety never sleeps," he asserted.

The pilot-turned-politician who is the main face of his party here, said he aspires to make "train journey a pleasant experience" and emphsaised on reducing train accidents considerably in the coming years.

Asked about the cause behind Kalka Mail mishap which has claimed 70 lives so far, he said "the investigations is on...all these (investigation) take time."

He also promised to ensure jobs to the next of kin of those killed in rail accidents. "I will ensure that the promise to provide jobs to the kin of victims of accidents will be fulfilled in time."

Trivedi felt the primary job of a Railway Minister is to "execute the dreams of the Prime Minister for the country and ensure policy implementation. As a Minister one can give guidelines as our officials and workforce is quite capable of running the show."

About the need of executing many unviable rail projects, he said there are certain projects not economically viable but socially required. Our system is not fully commercial because it links the country."


First Published: Thursday, July 14, 2011, 21:58

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