PTI Photo/ TV GRAB
Union Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi presenting the Rail Budget 2012-13 in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi.
Didi Wants Trivedi Replaced for Hiking Rail Fares
Presenting a populist budget, Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi today announced a marginal hike in passenger fares ranging from 2 paisa per kilometre to 30 paisa per kilometre in various categories of trains, noting that Railways was passing through a "difficult phase", a move much hailed by the PM in a tweet, but one that cost the minister his job.

Angry over the hike in passenger fares in the Railway Budget, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to remove her party nominee Dinesh Trivedi from the post of Railway Minister.

"Yes, I have written to the Prime Minister seeking his replacement with Mukul Roy, another union minister," Banerjee told PTI.

Earlier in the day, Trinamool Congress today put Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi on notice that it may replace him if he does not roll back the hike in passenger fares proposed by him in the railway budget.

The party would also move cut motion against the fare hike, Sudip Bandopadhyay said.

"We may propose another name for railway ministry," he said.

He said the party was not not in a mood to compromise on the issue at all. Trivedi, he said, represents Trinamool Congress in the government.

As leader of the Parliamentary Party, Bandopadhyay said he has communicated to Trivedi that the hike should be rolled back and reminded him that he was in that position because of the party.

Trinamool Demands Roll Back

A team of Trinamool Congress MPs met Dinesh Trivedi soon after he presented the Railway Budget.

Minister of State for Health Sudip Bandopadhyay said that the TMC MPs asked the Trivedi to roll-back the fare hike.

When pointed out that Trivedi was a member of the Trinamool Congress, he said the Railway Minister has performed his "constitutional duty" by presenting the Budget.

"The Trinamool Congress never rolls back its demand," Bandopadhyay said.

The ball was set in motion soon after Trivedi announced the budget. "Railway Budget...What was all that about increasing fares across the board? Upper class...Maybe ok...But all? Sorry, cannot agree," Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien tweeted.

Bandopadhyay said the Trinamool Congress would never support any fare hike.

"No Fare Hike in Last Eight Years"

In his budget, Trivedi had announced introduction of 75 express trains, 21 passenger trains and extension of 39 trains besides increase in the frequency of 23 trains.

Platform tickets have also been raised from Rs 3 to Rs 5.

In his first Railway Budget, Trivedi announced increase in passenger fares by 2 paise per km for suburban and ordinary Second Class, 3 paise per km for Mail/Express Second Class and 5 per paise per km for Sleeper Class, 10 paise per km for AC Chair Car, AC-3 Tier and First Class.

AC-2 Tier will cost more by 15 paise per km while AC-1 will be dearer by 30 paise per km.

In his over 100-minute speech, Trivedi said these were aimed at rationalising the fares to cause "minimal impact" on the common man and "to keep the burden within tolerance limits in general".

He said he had been counselled to go for steep increase in passenger fares as there had been no increase in last eight years but he desisted from doing so "guided by the overriding concern for aam aadmi (common man)".

The proposed adjustments, he said, do not even cover fully the impact of increase in fuel prices during the last eight years.

"I am keeping the valuable passengers of Indian Railways insulated from the burden of increasing staff cost," he said.

 Regretting that the Budgetary support has not been at the levels required by the Railways, Trivedi said in the event of further increase in input costs it would not be possible for the railways to keep the passengers' cushion from the impact of such increases.

Contending that the Railways was "passing through a difficult phase", he said the Budgetary support has been pegged at a "modest" level of Rs 24,000 crore as against a projected requirement of Rs 45,000 crore.

In the current year, the Minister said although there were no arrears of the Pay Commission to be paid, the impact of allowances and several post-budgetary factors has been "very stressful" for the finances of the Railways.

Trivedi said there have been suggestions for creation of an independent Railway Tariff Regulatory Authority but since it requires serious debate, he had decided to set up a body of experts to examine this.

He said he was contemplating a system of segregating fuel component in the cost associated with passenger services and call it FAC (fuel adjustment component).

"The FAC will be dynamic in nature and will change in either direction with the change of fuel costs," he said.

The Minister said Indian Railways Stations Development Corporation will redevelop 100 stations and maintain them on pattern of airports.

There is a plan to modernise 19,000 km of railway tracks, which cater to 80 per cent of traffic, says Trivedi.

The annual plan for railways for 2012-13 was put at the highest ever Rs 60,100 crore.

Passenger amenities would be given Rs 1,112 crore in 2012-13 as against Rs 762 crore in current year.

All metre gauge, narrow gauge sections would be made broad gauge, except heritage lines, by end of 12th Five Year Plan.

Trivedi said 800 km of lines to be gauge converted at Rs 1,950 crore in 2012-13.

725 km of new lines would be completed in the current year and Rs 6,725 crore has been earmarked for new lines, he said.

Survey would be taken up on 14 new rail lines in 2012-13.

He said the budget will be a chain in the link and would seamlessly integrate with 12th Plan and Vision 2020 document of former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Rail Budget Highlights:
  • Passenger fares increased marginally. The increase will be by 2 paise per km for suburban and ordinary second class; 3 paise per km for mail/express second class; 5 paise per km for sleeper class; 10 paise per km for AC Chair Car, AC 3 tier and First Class; 15 paise per km for AC 2 tier and 30 paise per km for AC I.
  • Minimum fare and platform tickets to cost Rs. 5.
  • 50% concession in fare in AC-2, AC-3, Chair Car & Sleeper classes to patients suffering from ‘Aplastic Anaemia’ and ‘Sickle Cell Anaemia’.
  • Extending the facility of travel by Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains to Arjuna Awardees.
  • Travel distance under ‘Izzat Scheme’ to increase from 100 kms to 150 kms.
  • SMS on passenger mobile phone in case of e-ticket to be accepted as proof of valid reservation.
  • Introduction of satellite based real time train information system (SIMRAN) to provide train running information to passengers through SMS, internet, etc.
  • On board passenger displays indicating next halt station and expected arrival time to be introduced.
  • Installation of 321 escalators at important stations of which 50 will be commissioned in 2012-13.
  • Introduction of regional cuisine at affordable rates; launching of Book-a-meal scheme to provide multiple choice of meals through SMS or email.
  • Introduction of coin/currency operated ticket vending machines.
  • Upgradation of 929 stations as Adarsh Stations including 84 stations proposed in 2012-13; 490 stations have been completed so far.
  • Specially designed coaches for differently-abled persons to be provided in each Mail/Express trains.
  • Introduction of Rail Bandhu on-board magazines on Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Duronto trains.
  • Setting up of AC Executive lounges at important stations
  • 75 new Express trains to be introduced.
  • 21 new passenger services, 9 DEMU services and 8 MEMU services to be introduced.
  • Run of 39 trains to be extended.
  • Frequency of 23 trains to be increased.
  • 75 additional services to run in Mumbai suburban; 44 new suburban services to be introduced in Kolkata area, 50 new services to be introduced in Kolkata Metro; 18 additional services in Chennai area.
  • 725 km new lines, 700 km doubling, 800 km gauge conversion and 1,100 km electrification targeted in 2012-13.
  • Rs 6,872 cr provided for new lines, Rs 3,393 cr for doubling, Rs 1,950 cr for gauge conversation, Rs 828 cr for electrification
  • Highest ever plan outlay of Rs. 60,100 cr
  • Rae Bareli coach factory manufactured 10 coaches in 2011-12; phase-II of the factory would be commissioned in 2012-13.
  • A wagon factory to be set up at Sitapali (Ganjam District of Odisha)
  • A rail coach factory with the support of Government of Kerala to be set up at Palakkad; two additional new manufacturing units for coaches to be established in the Kutch area in Gujarat and at Kolar in Karnataka with active participation of the State Governments.
  • Setting up of a factory at Shyamnagar in West Bengal to manufacture next generation technology propulsion system for use in high power electric locomotives.
  • Creating Missions as recommended by Pitroda Committee to implement the modernization programme.
  • Setting up of Railway Tariff Regulatory Authority to be considered.
  • New Board Members for Safety/Research and PPP/Marketing to be inducted.
  • Rail-Road Grade Separation Corporation to be set up to eliminate level crossings.
  • Indian Railway Station Development Corporation to be set up to redevelop stations through PPP mode.
  • Logistics Corporation to be set up for development & management of existing railway goods sheds and multi-modal logistics parks.
  • National High Speed Rail Authority to be set-up.
  • Pre-feasibility studies on six high speed corridors already completed; study on Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Jodhpur to be taken up in 2012-13.
  • Introduction of a ‘Green Train’ to run through the pristine forests of North Bengal.
  • Setting up of 200 remote railway stations as ‘green energy stations’ powered entirely by solar energy.
  • Providing solar lighting system at 1,000 manned level crossing gates.
  • 2,500 coaches to be equipped with bio toilets.
  • Setting up of 72 MW capacity windmill plants in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  • Installation of Integrated Security System at all 202 identified stations to be completed in 2012-13.
  • Escorting of trains by RPF/GRP extended to 3,500 trains.
  • Integration of RPF helpline with the All India Passenger Helpline.
  • Setting up of a Railway Safety Authority as a statutory regulatory body as recommended by Kakodkar Committee
  • . Three ‘Safety Villages’ to be set up at Bengaluru, Kharagpur and Lucknow for skill development for disaster management.
  • Over one lakh persons to be recruited in 2012-13 – backlog of SC/ST/OBC and other categories to be wiped off.
  • Introduction of a wellness programme for railway staff at their work places.
  • Ensuring proper rest for skilled and technical staff including the running crew.
  • Institution of ‘Rail Khel Ratna’ Award for 10 rail sports-persons every year.
  • New coaching terminal at Naihati, the birth place of Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay commemorating him on 175th Birth Anniversary.
  • .Project to connect Agartala with Akhaura in Bangladesh to be taken up in 2012-13.
  • Freight loading of 1,025 MT targeted; 55 MT more than 2011-12
  • Passenger growth targeted at 5.4 %.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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Digression

44/D-57
Mar 16, 2012
06:03 PM

 MK Sainiji,

I must say I am not in disagreement with you entirely.I have tried to draw the contrast of working of railways then and the lack of sincerity at the top now  and Railways  progressive deterioration due to poor quality of administration by a bureaucracy unqualified for the job  quite easily discernible by the quality of services or the lack of it the railways have to offer.

Starting from scratch to lay a sturdy rail system encompassing the entire subcontinent that make three countries now for  about more than  65000 route KMs, construction of biggest rail stations that continue to cater to populations 10 times more than when they were origianlly constructed, and the logistics geo engineering in frontier terrains, the lack of abundant material in the times of little development is no mean achievement , whatever may be the motive we may attribute but atleast it was not individual selfish motive as it is now.  Its equivalent of laying 'Maglev ' tracks throughout the  country in the present times.But we know we dont have yet even one KM of that !!  If the Brits did not lay then, well, I wonder where we would have been. I may sound apologetic. But with our kind of leadership I have no illusions that we would be another Afghanistan where there is no Railways even now. 

Agreed the rail fares are cheaper when you consider ordinary passenger or unreserved 2nd class. But the AC first class is no cheaper as it nears an airfare. Also one should take into account the PP(Purchase Power) of a citizen vis a vis the price of ticket- I mean, what fraction of days/hours of earning of an average citizen  need to spend to finance one's travel. I consider that by this method, the prices of reserved 2nd class and AC travel are not cheap.Travel by Eurorail is not unaffordable to even average Indians.

 Saini saab, let us examine what significant infrastructure has come up after Independence either by way of roads or railways?  In that context the execution of golden quadrilateral express high ways is considered the gift of Shri Vajpayeeji. I respect him for this one single act but it shouldn't be construed  he literally gave us . Since it was he who initiated and gave the idea or rather ordered to implement the project we credit him by saying that he gifted us. Same way I meant that the railways is a gift of Brits. If you go deep to know the way of financing of railroad construction then in the subcontinent, you will get to know it was financed largely by private comapnies through equity raised abroad on some guarantees by the government and when the comapanies reached bankruptsy due to the economics of low fares, the British India Govt bought some of them. The Kalka- Shimla railways is one such company and so is Nilgiri mountain railway.There are many such which have been finally amalgamated by nationalisation as Indian railways..

I have widely travelled by railways and if anyone happened to travel in the route of Raipur Bolangir route  would realise how the foresight of laying rail line in that otherwise God forsaken land then is helping us to travel easily today.If one considers purely economics, no one would  care to lay a line there but it was laid. So give the devil  credit where it is due.

I agree with you on other points.

  

sandilya
Chennai, India
43/D-27
Mar 16, 2012
07:02 AM

 @ Mr Saini, Here is another go on this issue - the last one perhaps for this thread. 

The developments you mentioned to the sleepers/ballast allows for abysmally low speeds on most of the systems. In India we are still led to believe High Speed is 150-180 kmph - every time the govt brags about Shatabdis and Rajdhanis. 

As for Pakistani freight rail - their freight business unit caters to Karachi fairly well. Its rail connectivity is better than most ports in South Asia. 

I could not make out anything from your mixed system argument - depending on the freight orientation and passenger ridership, each system has its inevitable bias. Mixed does not mean balanced not it is required to be.

In a span of 50 years, if all IR was able to do was to patch up a network of different guages, I rest my case on that point alone. 

Monopolies have no place in today's world and especially in a healthy business and competitive environment. Railways is no exception. PPPs and partnership with states would have propelled IR out of its present lumber. 

By a multitude of different standards IR has stayed dysfunctional over its existence and requires reform in literally every functional department.

Kautilya, Washington DC
42/D-22
Mar 16, 2012
03:00 AM

@sandilya

World has changed a lot in the recent thirty forty years but Indian railways is the only transport organisation which has trains that have progressively deteriorated over these years.

everything is more congested in India. We are fortunate the British "overbuilt" the main railway stations, but they were also were able to spend a lot of money on them.

Neither you nor Kautilya has discussed one of the main reasons for the shabby state of the trains - the low fares. In the UK the trains are shiny and sleek, but it may be cheaper to drive yourself by car.

In India passenger fares are cross subsidised by freight. The rates are so low they don't cover the costs. Every passenger train you see is running at a loss.  Some things have to give

As I mentioned earlier, its better if the trains are run as single system, but if political inteference is removed. Of course this may be hard but its doable.

Anyway the train network is no longer a "gift" from the British. Thats a common middle class talking point but its not correct., Its long since moved on. Apart from the stations (all major stations all over the world are 100 plus years old) the system is quite different 

MK Saini, Delhi
41/D-20
Mar 16, 2012
02:49 AM

@kautilya

increasing freight by 20 x is not simply a matter of running more trains. The system is stressed by that factor as well. The track bed has to be strengthened, the rails are now welded and so on.  You no longer hear trains going clack clack, its now a continuous sound. On that level IR has is upto standard.

as for the Pakistani comparison, that is entirely fair. Look at the geography, with the one seaport, Karachi. Rail has natural advantages there.

Mixed type systems (passenger and freight) are always slow and face problems. The USA is freight biased except for the eastern corridor.  In Europe there is a bias towards passenger trains. Other countries may have a mixed type system but the network will not be so congested.

The system that IR inherited in 1950 was patchwork of different gauges, broad gauge and metre gauge and so on. To convert from metre to broad guage you may have to rebuild the track and the access. Most of this work is complete and is giving good dividend now.

I suspect that Indian railways does not want different rail systems and gauges, thats why they do not want to let go of control. Railways is a natural monopoly especially in a congested country like India

MK Saini, Delhi
40/D-7
Mar 16, 2012
12:25 AM

Another single/divorced Indian lady politician!

But the Congress would probably dump her, since she does not support the Womens Reservation Bill and gender-casteist politics. Whoever supports the anti-male bill will probably get supported politically in return by the Congress.

Male Unblocked, Chennai
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