Mukul rolls back fare hike to please Mamata

New Delhi : Stating that it impacted poor people, new Railway Minister Mukul Roy Thursday rolled back the fare hike in suburban and non-suburban, sleeper, air conditioned chair car and air conditioned three-tier classes announced by his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi in the railway budget.

“I intend to give relief to the already over burdened common man by not effecting any increase in these classes,” said Roy, while replying to the debate on the rail budget 2012-13 in the Lok Sabha.

Stating that the “proposal to increase fare by 2 paise per km, 3 paise per km and 5 paise per km in second class suburban and non-suburban and sleeper class is a huge drain on the pocket of the masses”, Roy said “The increase in the fare of air conditioned chair car and air conditioned three tier, which is now patronised by the middle class, is also quite severe.”

However, he retained the fare hike for the air conditioned first and second class by 15 paise per km and 30 paise per km respectively announced by Trivedi, who had proposed 10 paise per km each for air conditioned chair car and air conditioned three tier.

Terming the roll back a setback to the reform process, sources said the railways will now have to forego revenue worth Rs.4,000 crore due to Roy’s announcement.

“We would have to look at other means to cover up the gap… it is a set back to the reform process,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

The fare hike had infuriated Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who replaced Trivedi with loyalist Roy.

In other reversal of announcements made by Trivedi, the new rail minister put on hold his proposal of setting up an expert panel to examine whether there should be an independent tariff regulatory authority.

He also scrapped Trivedi’s proposal to expand the Railway Board by creating a post of Member (Public Private Partnership).

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