Wednesday, October 9, 2013
India train fare hike
Train fares have gone up in India for the second time this year, causing mixed reactions from commuters.
The hike comes as India's large railways department struggles for profitability, in the midst of the country's economic downturn.
Passengers travelling on Indian trains now have to pay 2 per cent extra for their journeys, with only second-class tickets on suburban trains and monthly season tickets spared.
Many commuters were upset at the news, since they use India's vast rail network to get from big cities, where they work in, to their hometowns -- which are often smaller towns and villages far away.
Trains are usually the most efficient way to make that journey, since buses and other modes of transport are not as reliable.
Passengers are worried about how often they will be able to go home, and with how much of their savings.
Commuter M P Said said: "Those who used to go back to their villages four times will now be able to go back only once. They'll be able to go home only once in a year."
Commuter Suresh Pande added: "If we spend all our money on the ticket, then what will we spend on the way? What will we take home? We had hope in the government, but year by year the prices go up, and I don't think the government will be able to do anything about it."
But some commuters are not as concerned about the hike.
P Mishra commented: "What problem will the common man face? Fares are going up across several classes. If they can pay 400 rupees, they will also be able to pay 410 or 420 rupees."
Others feel the hike will be worth it if they see an improvement in facilities.
But the railways department is raising fares not to improve the rundown network, but because of rising energy costs.
It said an increase in fuel costs placed a burden of about US$195 million on their budget, with charges for diesel and electricity going up 7.5 per cent and 15.5 per cent respectively.
It hopes the revised rates will bring them revenues of about US$187 million.
The funds are badly needed as operating expenses keep going up, few investments come in, and coalition politics sees the railways portfolio used as a tool for short-term electoral gains.