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Modi government rules out rollback of rail fare hike despite protests

While a rollback has been ruled out, sources say that to ease the pain, the hike could be staggered for suburban trains.

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Updated:June 24, 2014, 12:36 PM IST
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Modi government rules out rollback of rail fare hike despite protests
While a rollback has been ruled out, sources say that to ease the pain, the hike could be staggered for suburban trains.

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has ruled out a rollback in rail fare hike despite pressure from ally Shiv Sena. Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress MPs from Maharashtra also met Rail Minister Sadananda Gowda on Tuesday over the fare hike in local trains in Mumbai.

The minister has assured them that the concerns of Mumbaikars will be considered. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has spoken to Finance Minister Arun Jaitely. But the government has ruled out a rollback - but the hike could be staggered for suburban trains.

While a rollback has been ruled out, sources say that to ease the pain, the hike could be staggered for suburban trains. But even this many not be spread out over several stages.

Sources say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take a final call on the matter, if needed.

The Shiv Sena had strongly criticised the Modi government's move to hike rail fares. An editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana said that the hike is a burden on Mumbaikars and local train passengers will suffer. Sena said that if the Congress had hiked fares, the BJP would have been the first to oppose it. The Saamna editorial said that the BJP should not hike fares further and impose a burden on the common man.

Within the Bharatiya Janata Party too there is a demand to reconsider the hike. Maharashtra BJP MLA Vinod Tawde has tweeted saying the hike must be reconsidered. "Rail fare hike is too taxing for Mumbaikars. We've requested Rajnath Singh to reconsider the proposal," Tawde tweeted.

Not just within, the NDA is facing protests from the Congress as well. Congress workers protested at the Palam Railway Station demading a rollback. The workers climbed on the railway track and stopped a train, also burning effigies and raising slogans against the Modi government. The protests were led by DPCC chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.

The Modi government on Friday announced a steep hike in the railway passenger fare by 14.2 per cent in all classes and freight by 6.5 per cent. It increased prices effective from June 25. It is the first steep hike in Railway fares in many years.

The local trains are the lifeline for the over 2 crore people of the Mumbai metropolitan region. The city local services consist of three lines -- the Western, Central and Harbour lines, ferrying together over 70 lakh people per day.

As per the revised fares, effective June 25, a Rs 85 monthly season ticket (II Class) will now cost Rs 150, while a Rs 190 monthly pass will be priced at Rs 480. Similarly, the monthly season pass of Rs 795 for the first class has been revised to Rs 1,930. Likewise, a first class commuter with a monthly pass of Rs 1,740 will now have to shell out Rs 2,120 more for the same journey.

"Second class monthly season ticket fares shall be charged on the basis of 30 single journeys instead of around 15 single journeys charged currently," the Railways said in a statement. Fares of First Class monthly season tickets will be charged four times that of the Second Class monthly season tickets fares.

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