Fare hike triggers facilities plea

Jan. 9: Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal's train fare hike announcement today, which will be implemented from January 21, has sparked a demand for better services among organisations in Ranchi and Jamshedpur.

While some organisations said the hike was needed to run Indian Railways, estimated to bleed Rs 21,000 crore annually in the passenger fare segment, others have said it would hit hard the aam aadmi grappling with inflation.

"Fare hike was a must. We hail the steps taken by the railway minister to manage the growing costs to run Indian Railways. But, passengers must get better facilities during travel," Ranjit Kejriwal, Federation of Jharkhand Chamber of Commerce and Industries president, said.

But Kejriwal added that the railways should immediately slash tatkal charges.

Chhotanagpur Passenger Association said it was unhappy "with the manner in which the fares were hiked".

"We don't oppose the hike in principle as we deemed it necessary. But, the jump is a little too much. Residents reeling under the prices of essential commodities will now have to pay more for train journeys," said the association's vice-president Ashok Nagpal.

"The hike is logical as it is taking place across all segments after about 10 years. Passengers have no problem paying extra, provided they get better services on all mail and passenger trains, not just high-profile ones," said S .P. Trivedi, an executive member of Chhotanagpur Passenger Association.

He cited examples of Bihar-bound trains, the coaches of which are unfit for travelling. "Cleanliness must improve in Tata-Chapra and Tata-Patna South Bihar Express," he added.

Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) said that when people could pay more for petrol and diesel, why not railways.

"At the same time, railways should focus on cleanliness and safety," said Suresh Sonthalia, senior SCCI functionary and senior member of the Zonal Railway Users' Consultative Committee.

Railway officials at Garden Reach, headquarters of South Eastern Railway, added that those who had bought advance tickets for travel on or after January 21 would pay the hiked amount to the train ticket examiner.

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