On the last day of the year, the Railways announced a hike in passenger fare effective January 1, raising journey costs by 1-4 paise per kilometre in different classes after a gap of over five years.
For all AC classes, the hike is 4 paise per kilometre travelled, while non-AC classes and the unreserved segment will see a 1 paisa per kilometre hike. On long-distance mail/express trains, the hike will be 2 paise per kilometre.
While it decided to keep the fares of the suburban classes unchanged, a hike has been effected in the non-AC classes, including the unreserved segment, which have been bleeding Railways through under-recovery of cost.
The Railways hope to mop up Rs 2300 crore in a year via the hike.
The hike means that a journey from Delhi to Mumbai, which is approximately 1500 km, will set a passenger back by Rs 60 in AC classes on Rajdhani-type trains, Rs 15-20 on Shatabdi-type trains and around Rs 55-60 on other mail/express trains.
In the unreserved segment, for the same distance, the hike will be in the range of Rs 25 while for non-suburban passenger trains, like intercity express trains, the hike will be around Rs 5 for travelling a distance of around 500 km, which is more or less the average distance travelled on these trains.
The fare-rationalisation proposal, sources said, had been awaiting clearance from the political dispensation for the past six months or so.
The last time a hike was effected, the Modi government had rolled back majority of the proposed hike in suburban train fare after vehement opposition from its then ally Shiv Sena and even the Maharashtra BJP unit.
This time, the hike comes in the backdrop of the Railways staring at a revenue shortfall of over Rs 25,000 crore by the end of this financial year, source said. The fare hike, considered long overdue, is to supplement income in the face of rising input costs.
The Railways has also not been able to earn enough non-fare revenue, despite several attempts and multiple directions from the PMO over the past six years, which had made hiking fare more or less inevitable for added income, sources said.
The last time the fare was hiked was in 2014, soon after the Modi government came to power. The 14.2 per cent hike in fare and 6.6 per cent in freight rates was approved by the outgoing UPA government during its last days in office with the mandate to operationalise it after the election results. Following protests by the Shiv Sena, the hike in suburban trains was rolled back for travel up to 80 km.