In a partial relief to millions of daily suburban train commuters in Mumbai and elsewhere, the railway ministry today announced a reversal of the unprecedented fare hike by reverting to the basis of fare calculation of monthly season tickets to 15 days single fare against the proposed 30 days single fare. Instead, the increase in season ticket rates will be limited to 14.2 per cent wherever applicable.
Railway minister Sadananda Gowda also announced today that the Railways has decided against increasing second-class daily ticket fares up to 80km. There will therefore be no change in fare for second class suburban travelers for a distance up to 80 km.
However, the rates of first-class daily tickets and first- and second-class season tickets will now be go up by a flat 14.2 per cent.
The unprecedented hike, ranging between 100 per cent and 187 per cent, announced on 20 June had drawn a barrage of criticism from over 7.5 million users of local train service in Mumbai (See: Train fares to go up 14.2%, freight rate raised by 6.5%).
Indian Railways said the fare hike in the unreserved segment will come into force from 28 June as against 25 June for the reserved category.
These steps will benefit about 12.4 million daily suburban commuters, 61 per cent of whom are in Mumbai.
The rollback will mean the railways foregoing revenues of Rs750-800 crore, according to a top official.
Suburban commuters, unlike long-distance reserved passengers, are daily commuters who would be hit hard by a fare hike.
For Mumbai, suburban trains are the city's lifeline, and hence the protest against the fare hike was the loudest.
The rollback comes after the Maharashtra BJP unit and its ally the Shiv Sena demanded at least a partial withdrawal of the fare hike. The alliance is readying to face assembly elections in October.