Pay at least 100% more for your monthly local commute pass

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 21 Juni 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Less than two months after voting overwhelmingly for the BJP-Sena alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, Mumbaikars got the shock of their lives on Friday when the new government doubled — in some cases, trebled — prices of suburban railway season tickets. The hike, effective from June 25, comes just weeks before the railway budget will be tabled in Parliament.

More than half of Mumbai's population commutes by train. Western Railway ferries 35 lakh commuters every day and Central Railway 40 lakh, making for a daily total of 75 lakh commuters, in a city with a population of about 1.4 crore. Nearly 55 lakh of these commuters hold season tickets.

READ ALSO: Suburban shocker in Kolkata, Mumbai

The unprecedented increase will be severe: some of the fares, released by officials, indicate that season ticket fares may soar nearly three times on some routes. The worst-hit will be commuters staying in the extended suburbs of Thane, Borivli, Kalyan and Virar.

Railway officials, however, argued that suburban fares are highly subsidized and the rise would partially offset their losses. WR records an annual loss of Rs 88 crore and CR Rs 571 crore.

The hikes in daily ticket fares are not as high; first-class fares have risen by between Rs 5 and Rs 20. Second-class daily tickets prices have been left untouched except for the CST-Kalyan fare, which increases by Rs 5 (from Rs 15 to Rs 20).

Apart from the 14.2% hike in fares across all classes, the railway board has also decided to tweak the system of calculating season ticket fares. A Railway Board official said, "The fare for the monthly season ticket was calculated on 15 single journeys per month. However, from June 25, commuters would be charged for 30 single journeys per month."

A railway official said, "Back-of-the-envelope calculations show that the CST-Thane or Churchgate-Borivli first class season ticket holder will have to shell out Rs 1,310 per month against Rs 655 earlier. A monthly first class season ticket for Kalyan, Vasai or Virar (from CST or Churchgate) would cost around Rs 2,000."

An average commuter staying between Mira Road and Virar or Kalwa to Badlapur-Ambernath will have to pay more than his monthly society maintenance bill. Karan Nayak, a resident of Dombivli, said, "I have a monthly maintenance bill of Rs 1,200 but the season ticket would now cost me Rs 1,900. I will have no option but to switch to travelling by second class."

A railway official said that the suburban operating ratio of CR and WR stood at 194% and 191%, respectively, for 2012-13. He said, "We have spent crores on upgrading the suburban system through MUTP- I and II. All that money has to be recovered to ensure that there are enough funds in the railway's kitty to undertake expansion and modernization projects."

An official from the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation justified the hike on the grounds that season ticket holders are paid conveyance amount by their employers. He said, "Why should we subsidize a person by charging only for 15 journeys when he is undertaking more then thrice that number per month?" railway season tickets,railway season tickets,Railway Board,Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation,Karan Nayak

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