The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
The railway budget has added more burdens on the people traveling in trains. The railway minister has made the false claim that railway fares are not being increased. After increasing passenger fares by 20 per cent just two months before the railway budget, the present budget provisions will definitely increase the fares further. A fuel surcharge has been imposed which will result in raising the fares twice a year. There has been an increase in the reservation, cancellation and tatkal charges and fares of superfast trains.
The five per cent increase in freight charges across the board will have a cascading effect on inflation.
The budget has proposed to have an independent Rail Tariff Authority (RTA) which will decide on freight and tariff structure in the future. This will open the way for continuous increase in freight and passenger fares.
The railway budget has made no serious effort to overcome the financial crisis affecting the Indian railways. The criss was deliberately created in the past three years by enhancing the number of projects, spending on advertisements, foundation laying ceremonies and other activities. The railway minister has scaled down targets for the new lines, gauge conversion, allocation and acquisition of railway stock in order to reduce the operating ratio. The annual plan target was not achievable as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been a failure. Not a single investment has been there from the PPP model in the railways. The target for freight has been increased but the target for acquisition of wagons has been reduced by 2000, making it difficult to achieve the freight target. This has been clearly done to reduce the operating ratio.
Though there has been a serious increase in the train accidents, there are no proposals to make rail travel accident free and safe in the future.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) demands that the increase in fares through various means and the rise in freight charges be rescinded.