The Prime Minister’s Office has sanctioned a hike in train ticket fares, which is likely to be implemented from September this year, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday. The approval came after a meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of the infrastructure ministries on April 25. “Implement creeping increase in passenger fares” read the approval issued by the PMO.
While the railways has officially denied that such a hike is on the cards fearing political backlash, a top Railway Board official told The Indian Express that modalities have yet to be worked out. “It is clear what ‘creeping increase’ means. Now we have to take a call on it. Nothing has been finalised yet,” he told the daily, hinting at a possibility of non-AC class fares increasing as they have remained unchanged for years.
The hike introduced by the National Democratic Alliance government in June 2014 had to be partially rolled back following protests by the Shiv Sena. In September 2016, the Ministry of Railways had introduced a “flexi fare system” for the Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains, effectively increasing the price of the tickets based on the number of seats reserved on the train.
Currently, the Railways recovers only 57% of the cost in passenger services and around 37% in suburban services. Only AC III tier earns a profit for the Railways, but that is neutralised by losses incurred from the other classes.