Lucknow: Ahead of the presentation of the Rail Budget in Parliament, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha on Saturday said there was no proposal at present to increase rail fares. Speaking on the sidelines of a function to flag off the tri-weekly Lucknow-Kathgodam Express, he said it was not right to discuss the rail budget in advance.
"The rail budget will be discussed in Parliament.It is not right to discuss it in advance," he said. To a question, he said, "There is no proposal as of now to hike rail fares" Asked as to what was in store for Lucknow in the Budget to be presented on February 26, Sinha, a Lok Sabha member from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, said, "Lucknow will have a lot in the Budget but it would not be in the fitness of things to disclose it in advance."
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had recently that reduction in passenger fares is unlikely to happen although diesel prices have come down. "Railway recovers only 50 per cent of the passenger cost it bears. There is already a huge element of subsidy provided to passengers in the fares...Railway services will have to be modernised to meet people's expectations and the network needs to be expanded. There is a huge demand-supply gap and finance is major constraint...the point is how to raise resources," he had said.
Earlier speaking at the function, Sinha expressed hope that there will be huge investment in the Railways. "The issue of privatisation of the Railways also crops up from time to time but I want to clarify that though investment is required, it does not mean that it will be privatised.... Till we are in the government, Railways will not be privatised," he stressed.
The Minister of State for Railways said that though the number of rail passengers has risen by eight times and freight seven times, the basic infrastructure of the Railways has grown only by over two times. "We are working on how to reduce this gap in four to five years time," he said.
Taking note of the concerns over the arrival and departure timings of the newly launched tri-weekly Lucknow-Kathgodam train, he said it could be changed in days to come in case it posed problem to passengers. The train, which was announced in the 2014 Rail Budget, will leave Lucknow at 8.05 am and reach Kathgodam around 2.22 pm and start from there 4.05 pm to return here at 11.55 pm.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who flagged off the new train, said that timing could cause some inconvenience to passengers. "As of now, it will be run in the day but in case passengers face difficulites, it could be amended," he said.
Later, responding to a question from newspersons to Singh who is also local MP on what would be there for Lucknow in the Rail Budget, he remarked, "I do not make the rail budget."