Yesterday Railway budget was presented in the Parliament. Actually the railway budget and the general budget were postponed on the account of elections in UP, Uttranchal, Punjab and Goa. This year’s railway budget has seen marginal increment in the passenger fares. This increment has come after nine years. Although the increment is based on the basis of the class in which a person is travelling. The increment is like this: 2 paise increment in suburban and ordinary second class, 3 paise increment in mail/express second class, 5 paise increment in sleeper class and 10 paise increment in AC chair car, 3 tier and 1st class. 15 paise increment is there in AC 2 tier and 30 paise increment in AC 1st class. All the increment is based on the per kilometre basis.
This means if a passenger is travelling 500 kilometres then the increment in the above mentioned categories will be Rs 10, Rs 15, Rs 25, Rs 50, Rs 75, Rs 150 respectively. I have taken 500 kilometres as the base calculation standard because it’s the minimum distance a passenger has to travel to have the break journey. Although the criticism has started pouring in from Ms Mamata Banerjee for the price hike but I would like to say that Mr Dinesh Trivedi has done a good job. He has come above the party politics and has thought about the progress of the Railway. The last time when the passenger fare was increased was nine years ago.
I was wondering that two former railway ministers are criticising the fare hike. Mr Lalu Yadav and Ms Mamata Banerjee haven’t touched the passenger fare in their tenure to have their own political gain or to have the praises of the mass. But they have put the extra burden on the general public. Both of them have introduced new trains and had increased the frequencies of the trains also. Indeed, it was a nice work. But increase in the number of trains or the frequency means the running cost as the cost of fuel of the railway engine, salaries of the staff indulge in the smooth running, coach maintenance cost and various other indirect expenses involved. From where they were bringing the funds to have the smooth running of the trains? Railway requires Rs 45,000 crores for the operations of the entire organisation. Of course, they were taking the money from the Finance department as the Railway Ministers can’t deduct the pays of the railway employees. So the money which they were asking from the Finance Ministry was the taxes paid by the general public.
With this increment in the fare, the Railway is expected to earn about Rs 24,000 crores. This is about half of the money required by the Railway. I really support this price hike as the fuel cost is increasing in every six months or so. If the fare weren’t increased then it would have been tough for the Railway to have the trains running. Railway is the back bone of the Indian economy. Millions of tons of freight is been carried by the Railway daily along with the millions of passengers travelling in the trains.
So I would advice Ms Mamata Banerjee to come out of the pity politics and think about the nation. A real politician can’t do his or her vote politics at the cost of the development of the nation. If she is really concerned about the nation then she shouldn’t react abruptly like she is doing now.