New Delhi, Jan. 10: Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today ruled out the possibility of a rollback of the train fare hike announced yesterday amid criticism from the Opposition.
The minister said the government planned to soon set up a Rail Tariff Authority, which would set passenger fares and freight rates.
“We would soon move a cabinet note on the rail tariff authority,” Bansal said. However, it may not meet the January 15 deadline set by the Prime Minister’s Office.
The authority was proposed in the Rail Budget 2012-13, presented by former minister Dinesh Trivedi.
The Prime Minister has sought to expedite the formation of the authority, which is expected to look into the operational expenditure, including the diesel and power cost of trains and suggest measures to absorb the escalated cost.
“There would be no roll-back of passenger fare… it is a well considered decision… we cannot let the railway system to collapse,” Bansal said.
Meanwhile, protests against the hike, prompted by the huge operating losses in passenger trains, escalated today. Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati joined Opposition parties, including the Trinamul Congress and the Left, in terming the hike as anti-people and demanding an immediate roll back.
The railways are expected to lose Rs 25,000 crore on passenger train operations this fiscal.