The railways have forever been mulling an increase in suburban train fares, but a recent report goes one step ahead proposing to charge higher fares for those using all three lines – Western, Central and Harbour. Officials said that’s because the inter-changeability of rail lines will increase in the future, especially with the metro rail networks coming up.
For the 76 lakh suburban train commuters, three-way passes are not a new thing. A good 65-70 per cent of the total rail commuters are monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly season pass holders. Now, the Indian Railways wants to target this section who, according to them, are paying very low fares to travel much longer distances.
Under the current arrangement, for those using more than one line, the fare is charged for the longest route, while the remaining kilometres are charged at 30 per cent for first class and 40 per cent for second class tickets. But, as per the proposal made in the Rail Vikas Shivir, authorities have proposed an additional 50 per cent hike.
This means that an additional line change would incur a Rs 5 hike for second class monthly pass and a Rs 25 hike on first class monthly pass. Sources said that gradually they would like to bring down fares of first class tickets.
AC rail network
AC trains will be introduced on the network soon – the first one is still undergoing trials and will probably run on WR. Tickets for the AC coaches will be twice the first class fares. "Because the Metro section is air-conditioned, there needs to be some parity in fares," said a railway official.
The rationalisation is also proposed because three-way passes are mainly used by season pass holders. Currently, a second class season pass holder pays merely Rs 8.67 paise per km, while a first class season ticket holder pays Rs 31.56 paise per km. The railways also want a unified kilometres-based fare system that will be easier for transactions.
Indian Railways is looking at earning by monetising their land, advertising and other assets. This involves revamping stations. Recently, 23 stations across India were announced for a revamp, and five local stations — Bandra Terminus, Mumbai Central, Borivli, Kurla LTT and Thane — are on the list. They will be spending R100-150 crore each on these stations to bring them on a par with international levels. IRS is looking at increasing revenues by 15 per cent in the next five years.