Cong buys truce; agrees to roll back non-A/C fare hike

Mamuni Das New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

A view of Railway booking counter (file photo)

The Congress and the All India Trinamool Congress — coalition partners of the ruling UPA Government — have reached a temporary truce.

While Mr Dinesh Trivedi will be replaced by Trinamool Congress chief Ms Mamata Banerjee's choice Mukul Roy as the Railways Minister, the Congress has given in to a partial rollback of passenger fare hikes.

Ms Banerjee said she is trying to protect the interests of the common man by demanding the rollback of fare hikes for second class and sleeper class passengers. For the Railways, this translates into a revenue loss of up to Rs 4,300 crore, which is 60 per cent of the incremental earnings from passenger segment projected for next year.

The impact would be lower if a partial rollback in second class fares is worked out. An announcement to this effect is expected during the reply to Railway Budget discussions in Parliament over the next few days.

“If our nominee will become Railway Minister then we will modify the fares. There is no problem in the hike in upper class fares. We have no objection. It is tolerable. But for those who are poor, who travel daily in trains or those who travel in sleeper classes, it matters,” Ms Banerjee said.


The focus also shifts to whether Ms Banerjee will be able to get a matching grant from the Union Government to ensure the Railways' plans to improve safety and modernise are not impacted because of the rollback. This has been the demand of five railway federations that want Railways' interests to be protected from the ongoing coalition politics. Congress sources say this demand could be considered at a later stage.

Meanwhile, the Opposition termed the developments as a drama. “What is of least concern for the TMC leader, who was herself the Railway Minister ten months ago, is the perilous state of the Railways which is in a financial mess and where safety aspects are being neglected,” the CPI (M) central committee said in a statement.

The West Bengal Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, had a meeting with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, here on Monday. Though her party abstained from voting in the motion of thanks to the President's speech in the Lok Sabha, it is learnt that in the Rajya Sabha, where the UPA is in a minority, the Trinamool Congress will take a more “cordial stand.” The voting in the Rajya Sabha will take place on Tuesday.

The UPA leadership agreed to make Mr Mukul Roy the new Railway Minister. Mr Roy will take the oath of office on Tuesday.

> jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

> mamuni@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 19, 2012

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