PK Bansal hints at further increase in surcharge on bookings
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Justifying the hike in charges on various counts announced recently, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today hinted at further increase in surcharge on bookings and cancellations for balanced development of the country's largest transporter which has "limited resources".
Replying to a debate on the Rail Budget 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha amid a walkout by Opposition parties, Bansal also invited investments from corporates to improve amenities at railway stations.
Opposition parties, including the BJP, Left, JD(U), Shiv Sena, AIADMK, Trinamool Congress and BJD, walked out accusing the Railway Minister of focussing only on Congress-ruled states and ignoring others.
Bansal said his ministry would focus on spending "limited resources" on rail safety and better services during the year and modernise stations through corporate help.
On further hike in cancellation and reservation charges, he said: "Ticket bookings are open for 120 days and these agents buy the tickets in bulk and sell them for 119 days and return the unsold ones on the last day. These charges will have to be increased gradually to tackle this menace and ensure that genuine travellers get tickets to travel."
The Rail Budget, presented in the House on February 26, made an upward revision of reservation fee and supplementary charge for superfast trains that will mean an increase ranging from Rs 5 on the second class to Rs 25 on AC 1st and Executive Class. Freight charges were also hiked by 5.8 per cent.
Referring to hike in fares and freight charges, Bansal said these steps were taken to maintain the rolling stock and generate revenue in line with recommendations of the Kakodkar and Pitroda committees and the Planning Commission.
Bansal specifically referred to Trinamool Congress criticism that nothing was done for West Bengal and said the allocations made last year could not be spent as the works meant for the state were not carried out.
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