Another rail fare hike may get cleared in the coming financial year; discussions held between Railways and World Bank officials for levying a flat 25 per cent surcharge on all fares on the suburban network
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is all set to inaugurate the ‘mobile ticketing’ system, which would allow the 75-lakh daily commuters using the suburban rail to book both tickets and season passes on their mobile phones, today. The ticket booking process may have become easier, but there may also be a fare hike on the anvil.
Until now, the 75 lakh suburban rail commuters have been paying a surcharge of 24 per cent on their first and second class tickets and season passes. File pic for representation
As far as initial information goes, a flat 25 per cent surcharge has been proposed on all slabs of fares on the suburban rail network. Railway officials said that the need for a fare hike was discussed at the recently concluded meet with the World Bank authorities in Mumbai.
By enforcing a flat 25 per cent surcharge, fares of both season passes and daily tickets could go up. “If there needs to be an improvement in suburban rail, then this surcharge is necessary. The decision on the fare hike shall be taken by the Railway Board in Delhi,” said a railway official.
Until now, the 75 lakh suburban rail commuters have been paying a surcharge — the amount generated from this would help in repaying the WB loan — of 24 per cent on their first and second class tickets and season passes.
Now, according to the Railway Ministry’s directives, the fare after adding miscellaneous charges, will be rounded off to the next higher or lower multiple of Rs 5, except where ‘1’ and ‘6’ are the last digits. To this amount, even the 25 per cent surcharge would be added, which could increase the fares.
For instance, if the fare comes to Rs 11, 21 or 31, it will be rounded off to the lower multiples of R10, 20 or 30 respectively. And if it is Rs 16, 26 or 36, it will be Rs 15, 25 or 35. Likewise, fare values ending in Rs 2, 3 or 4 may get rounded off to Rs 5 and those ending in Rs 7, 8 and 9 will be rounded off to Rs 10.
So, if the fare after calculations and additions comes to R17, 22 or 38, the actual amount will come to R20, 25 or 40, respectively. “The WB is expected to fund nearly 80 per cent of the entire amount. If we want to repay the loan in another 25 years, then there is a need for levying surcharge on all strata of commuters travelling on the suburban rail,” said another senior railway official.
World Bank funding
The WB has partly funded the first two phases of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). And now during this visit, it showed interest in funding the MUTP-3 that was pegged at Rs 11,440 crore.
This loan amount comes to a whopping R6,000 crore of the total, which would be used for implementing newer projects. The railways will be implementing the new Jogeshwari-Airoli rail line, quadrupling of Virar-Dahanu line, Panvel-Karjat rail line, trespass control, station redevelopment, new 12-car rakes for Mumbai and other technical forays.
Officials said that the multi-crore projects cannot be sustained with insignificant fares. Sources said that presently a commuter pays a mere 15 paise per kilometre for travelling on the suburban rail network.
According to recent figures, on an average, the WR earns 31 paise per km from a commuter travelling in first class, while a second class commuter pays 13 paise per km. Similarly the CR commuter using first class pays 30 paise per km and a second class commuter pays 14 paise per km.
>> According to the agreement with WB, a surcharge of approximately 8 per cent was to be levied from 2003.
>> This surcharge was to be doubled and tripled by 2006 and 2009, but it wasn’t done till January 2013.
>> Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) expects to earn a revenue of Rs 240 crore per annum from the existing surcharge.
>> Prior to the 2013 surcharge, MRVC earned R80 crore annually, as there had been no increase from 2003 to 2013.