No hike in rail fares this year: Kharge

Bangalore, July 1 (IANS) There would be no increase in train fares during the 2013-14 fiscal despite rising diesel price, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said Monday.

“There is no proposal to hike rail fares again this year and the railways will absorb the additional cost of diesel price, which has been going up marginally,” Kharge told reporters here.

Passenger fares were increased across the board from Jan 22 by then minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to mobilise an additional Rs.6,600 crore per year after successive railway ministers in the past kept these unchanged for a decade.

“We will also absorb further increase in diesel price but not hike passenger fares,” Kharge asserted.

The minister’s response came following another increase – for the sixth time this year – of 50 paise per litre in the retail diesel price from Monday midnight by the state-run oil marketing firms across the country due to steady weakening of rupee against dollar.

The oil marketing firms have been increasing the retail price of diesel by 50-75 paise per litre on monthly basis since mid-January to recover losses incurred for selling the fuel below market price over the years.

Kharge, who hails from north Karnataka, is on a visit to the city to review pending railway projects across the state. This is his first visit after becoming the fourth railway minister in the second UPA government in June.

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