Passenger fares and freight rates were left untouched on Wednesday in the interim rail budget, which talks about plans about involvement of private sector and FDI as part of efforts to modernise the largest transport network in the country.
Presenting the interim budget for four months in the Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said an independent Rail Tariff Authority is being set up to rationalise fares and there was a proposal to expand dynamic pricing of tickets in line with the airline industry.
He announced the launch of 17 new premium trains, 39 express trains and ten passenger trains in the coming year and providing rail connectivity to Katra and Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast.
Kharge’s budget speech was cut short because of continued slogan-shouting and unruly behaviour by MPs from Andhra Pradesh, with even four Ministers trooping into the Well over the Telangana issue.
The Minister also announced starting of more high-speed trains and said the Ministry was exploring low-cost option of semi high-speed trains on select routes moving at 160-200 km per hour.
The budget speech did not touch upon passenger fares or freight rates. Kharge later said no hike has been proposed.
Annual Rail Plan has been pegged at Rs 64,305 crore with a budgetary support of Rs 30,223 crore.