Mumbaiites to Pay Higher Train Fares

Mumbai, Sept. 7 -- The Railway Board's proposal to hike suburban train fares by 8-12% is only the beginning. For Mumbaiites, there's more in store. The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), the joint venture between the railways and the state government, set up to upgrade Mumbai suburban railway, wants to

add a surcharge to city train fares from from 2012 to help pay off World Bank loans.

If this 8% surcharge comes into effect, then 70 lakh commuters will be paying at least 16% more than the current fare (in addition to the proposed minimum 8% fare hike) on local trains in the next few months. It will increase to 24% in 2015 and could continue till 2025 till such time that the loan is paid. A senior railway official said the surcharge proposal was already under consideration by the Railway Board.

This surcharge is being imposed on commuters to recover a part of the loans taken under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), meant to upgrade Mumbai's transport infrastructure. The railways is supposed to recover Rs 240 crore through the surcharge till 2025. It began with an 8% surcharge on suburban train tickets in 2003.

HT on Tuesday had reported that the Railway Board - a unified authority that handles daily management of rail network - has proposed a hike of 8 to 12% in train fares before the next financial year.

The first part of the surcharge was added to the ticket fare in 2003 by increasing it by 8% and taking the minimum fare to Rs 5. The next hike was to happen in 2006, with another 8% hike in fare. This, however, was reversed after the then Union railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, reduced fares by Re 1.

"This hike in fares will continue till at least 2025 by which time, we assume, the World Bank loan will be paid," said a senior railway official. A loan of Rs 1,600 crore was taken in the first phase of MUTP and another loan of Rs 1,900 crore was taken in the second phase.

The MRVC said not levying the surcharge would affect implementation of other works under MUTP. "This surcharge is like a viability gap funding to be transferred to the people. Not levying it would result in delay of other projects," said an MRVC official. Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times. For any query with respect to this article or any other content requirement, please contact Editor at htsyndication@hindustantimes.com

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