New Delhi: The combined budget failed to bring cheer among rail users in the region. Though there was no increase in railway fare, no new trains or projects were announced as well. However, the finance minister has said that the fare may be increased depending on the running cost and competition.
Users said that the railways had already started the process of changing the fares a couple of years ago itself. Now they have the licence to increase the fare whenever they want. Moreover, from now new trains will be introduced on need basis. Likewise they can also cancel less patronized trains, they opined.
Reacting to the announcement about the creation of a corpus fund of Rs 1 lakh crore for passenger safety, users said that the railway department had earlier tried to mobilize corpus fund for passenger safety, but it did not materialize. “We have to wait and see whether it happens now,” they said.
They, however, said that as as per the budget announcement, if priority is given to passenger safety, development works, cleanliness and reform in accounts, it will be an admirable effort by the government.
However, secretary of Consumer Protection Council S Pushpavanam said that as expected the railways were given just two paragraphs in the budget. Last year the expenditure of the railways was Rs 1.74 lakh crore. Now the central budget has allocated Rs 1.31 lakh crore. A separate corpus fund has also been created. Meanwhile, in 2013-14, (Standing Committee Report 180) railways had returned 40 percent of the safety fund unutilized, he stated.
“It is a relief to know that there are no empty promises, as passenger revenue is decreasing already and there is no scope to hike the fare,” he said.