According to the latest development in Indian Railways, passenger train travellers might have to pay a higher ticket price if the government plans to implement a “safety cess” for increasing the revenues of the railways.
“A safety cess on passenger tickets is under consideration,” Suresh Prabhu, the Railway Minister, told reporters on Tuesday. According to senior officials, the cess could be fixed at less than two percent of the entire fare amount.
A Railway official said “ the railways was considering various options “including the possibility of effecting an incremental increase, so that the pain (of raised fares) remains gradual for low-income passengers in particular”. Officials said passenger services have remained heavily subsidised, with losses in this segment estimated at Rs 30,000 crore this year.
Indian Railways operates around 19,000 trains on a daily basis, carrying about 23 million passengers everyday. However, the safety record of railways has always been under scanner with lot of train accidents in the span of 10 years (1999-2009) and the stats are more or less similar even today.
A safety cess was last levied in the year 2002 by the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar for serving a special fund of around INR 17, 500 crore. The amount was meant to be used for various tasks including track modernization and restoration tasks.
While there have been fare hikes in AC 1 and AC 2 during the last few years, the tariff for suburban trains and non-reserved classes are largely untouched. A lion’s share (94%) of the passengers travel in unreserved second or third class.