When people have been eagerly waiting for the ‘good days’ to come, the newly elected BJP government gave a shock to the masses by hiking the railway passenger fare by 14.2 percent and the freight charges by 6.5 percent. The new rates will be made applicable from June 25, i.e. within five days of the declaration being made.
“This is completely in contrast with what happened a few weeks back, AirAsia lowered its rates whereas the railways have hiked the prices. I can’t say if the present condition of railways will improve or not but one thing is sure, a lot of people will switch from railways to airways”, stated Gaurav Rampal, a Delhi based restauraunter who himself prefers airways over railways.
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This decision was earlier announced on May 16 but was soon put on hold. The then railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge left the decision to be taken by the new government. The reason behind this hike is believed to be the weak financial condition of the railways in our country. The central government had been spending around 26,000 crores on the passenger subsidies all this while which made railways suffer a financial crunch. This hike will garner around 8000 crores which the government is planning to invest in improving the poor condition of railways.
“I visit home almost every two months and this hike would cost my pocket dearly. 14.2 percent increment is too much! I would rather start travelling by bus now,” stated Aditi Shree, a delhiite who is pursuing engineering from the Dehradun Institute of Technology.
Shariq Khan, a daily traveler and a lawyer, said “This hike will not affect those who travel once in a while but for people like me who travel everyday by train, this increase is certainly a bad news.”
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Ram Kumar, vegetable vendor from Delhi who travels once or twice a year to his village in Bihar, agitatedly expressed, “I can’t stop travelling to my village because of this hike but it is definitely not a good change. I do not expect anything from the government”.
The first major step taken by this newly elected government is surely not going down well with the people. But we can only hope that with the increased investment and lowered subsidies, railways will improve its facilities which might lower the real cost in future.
Making the announcement, less than a month after Narendra Modi took charge as the Prime Minister of India, railway minister Sadanand Gowda said, “I was forced to implement the order that was done by my predecessor. I am only withdrawing the withholding order.”
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With the increase in the freight charges, the cost of steel and metal would also rise, adding to the inflation which was only being witnessed in the food sector for some time now. More so, it would even be more interesting to see how the other sectors receive this change.
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