To pull Metro out of ICU,fares to go up after a gap of 13 yrs

Out of red: Authorities also looking at other possible sources of revenue

Written by Sabyasachi Bandopdhyay | Kolkata | Published: August 29, 2013 3:30 am

Desperately seeking revival from the ‘acute financial slump’ it has landed itself into,India’s first and the oldest metro rail,Kolkata Metro,is on the anvil of revising passenger fare for the first time in 13 years.

With a revision plan for the fare structure already submitted to the Railway Board,the metro authorities are now also looking at possible alternate sources of revenue to reduce the heavy loss that Kolkata Metro continues to incur.

“We are trying to reduce the losses through commercial advertisements. We have leased out parts of our property at the Central station,Metro Bhawan and Tollygunge stations. All these fetch us revenue worth Rs 15 crore,’’ Deputy General Manager of Metro Railway,Protyush Ghosh told The Indian Express.

Confirming the losses and the revision plan submitted to the Indian Railways,under which Kolkata Metro operates as one of its 17 zones,Union Minister of State (Railways) Adhir Ranjan Choudhury termed the fare hike “the need of the hour”.

The increasing anomaly in Kolkata Metro’s revenue-over-expenditure figure for the last two years aptly summarises Chaudhary’s concern that the metro rail service needs to be “brought back from the ICU”. While the corporation clocked a total revenue figure of Rs 107 crore in 2011-12 against an expenditure total of Rs 330 crore,it could only manage to pull in Rs 113 crore after spending Rs 370 crore in 2012-13.

“There is an increasing pressure of passengers. More rakes are needed; the system has to be upgraded. We will have to look for more resources and a fare revision has to be done to bring it back from the ICU,” Choudhury said.

In its six stages of the fare structure,Kolkata Metro charges its passengers Rs 4 (the lowest) for a distance of 5 kms and Rs 14 (the highest) for more than 25 kms. Compare this with the minimum/ maximum fare of Delhi and Bangalore metro rail. While the charges for travelling in Delhi Metro is between Rs 8 and Rs 30,Bangalore ferries passengers for Rs 10 to Rs 15.

With the fare hike becoming an acute necessity,the minister has set Durga Puja as the time limit by which he intends to finish giving Kolkata Metro its much-needed face-lift.

“An old man needs to dye (his hair) to get a new look. Similarly,Kolkata Metro,too,has grown old,and it needs to repackage itself,which includes fresh coats,repairs and decorations,” Choudhury added.

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