New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) The opposition parties condemned the hike in train fares announced by the government Wednesday. They said the hike, meant to take effect from Jan 21 midnight, was "unfortunate" and "unacceptable".
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) opposed the hike, and the party spokesperson called it "unacceptable" and "atrocious".
"The government goes on increasing the price but they do not increase amenities and safety of the railways. It is absolutely unacceptable and atrocious," said Prakash Javadekar, BJP spokesperson.
"The fare hike once in ten years is not the issue. A hike is justified only if services are bettered. Users are ready to pay for good services. Start providing safety, better amenities and services... people are ready to pay," Javadekar told a news channel here.
Reacting to the train fare hike, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader and former Railway minister Mukul Roy said: "There are other means to increase the revenue of the railways, but without going through the other ways the government is taking the easiest method to increase (railway) funds. It is a burden on common man."
Questioning the intentions of the government in announcing a hike when the annual rail budget is to be presented next month, Roy said: "They know very well that in parliament they are the minority (Congress). So by-passing parliament, just before the budget, they have hiked railway fares, which is absolutely against the interest of the common people. Railway is the most friendly transport for the common people."
Blaming the railway minister for taking a straight-forward route, TMC leader Saugata Roy said: "Pawan Bansal has taken a straight-forward route. Passenger fare hike alone is not the only way (to raise funds). The government has raised fares across all classes, they have not given any relief to the middle class or lower middle class. This is very unfortunate."
Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had announced earlier that train fares would be hiked, and the hike would take effect Jan 21 midnight onwards.
"The fare for sleeper class has been increased by six paise per kilometre. The hike is 10 paise per kilometre for air-conditioned chair car as well as three-tier classes," Bansal told reporters here.
The minister said that the hike was "imperative" to maintain and improve the safety measures and cleanliness of the trains, as well as upgrade railway stations.
He further said there would be no increase when the annual rail budget is presented in February.