Bansal said he would work on improving the financial and physical health of the railways."The improvement in services will make way for an increase in fare." With the railways facing financial crunch, the minister is all set to ensure that all services are viable propositions. "The motive is not to commercialise rail services but to make it financially viable. We have to ensure that the vast infrastructure of the railways functions smoothly," he said.
"Fare will not be increased for the sake of increasing fare. If fare is increased, then it will be for providing better services to passengers," Railway Minister Pawan KumarBansal said when asked whether passenger fares will be hiked in the near future.
Though former Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi had proposed fare hike across the board in the 2012-13 rail budget, he was removed from the ministry by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and fare hike proposals were rolled back barring that of upper class.
Giving ample hint of possible fare hike, Bansal said "the improvement in services will have to be commensurate with the increase in fare."
At present, the railways are facing financial crunch and funds earmarked for many of the ongoing projects are being curtailed.
Justifying the need for a such step, the Railway Minister said "we have to ensure that the vast infrastructure of the railways does not collapse and stop functioning... So, we have to increase fares and assure the public that if there will be any hike, the public will also appreciate it because we are going to improve the services."
However, he did not go into the nitty-gritty of a possible passenger fare hike. "I have just assumed charge...I will discuss the issue threadbare."
The new Minister of State for Railways Adheer Ranjan Chowdhury, who also assumed charge, also favoured a hike in passenger fares.