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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rail fare structure needs review: CAG!

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August 6, 2011 / By PARUL CHANDRA, Correspondent, New Delhi / DC.

Providing a detailed insight into the sorry state of Indian Railways’ finances, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said in no uncertain terms that “there is a need to review the passenger fare structure” so that is in sync with rising prices. Passenger fares were last hiked some seven years ago.

In addition, CAG has also taken note of the railways’ “social burden” which has only led it to expand its network on uneconomical routes, which has again added to its financial woes.

In its report tabled in Parliament on Friday, CAG has said that “the way forward for IR (Indian Railways) to improve its finances is to rationalise both freight and passenger tariffs through some form of pre-determined non-discretionary inflation indexing”.

It would also like the railways to review and consider the possible closure of unremunerative railway line projects where there has been little progress over the years if these areas already connected by roads.
In another telling observation that will find most railways passengers nodding in agreement, CAG has pointed an accusing finger at the railways Tatkal booking system as well as its passenger reservation system (PRS).

In the case of Tatkal tickets, it has said their booking beyond business hours is “intentional bypassing of controls within the PRS by railway officials”.

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