Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday said raising charges for services like Tatkal booking, reservation and cancellation of tickets was an attempt to rein in touts and will not burden the common man.
While there will be no changes in reservation charges for second class and sleeper class, the rate for AC chair car would be hiked from Rs 25 to Rs 40 and that of first class from Rs 25 to Rs 50, he said.
These extra charges would earn the railways an additional Rs 483 crore each year, Bansal said.
Addressing a post-budget press conference in the national capital, the minister said a large number of tour and travelling companies get reservations done in bulk. "Therefore, this will put a check on them," he said.
Bansal said the common man would not be burdened in any way by this hike in charges while it will help the railways.
The minister told reporters that a 5 per cent increase in freight tariff due to the imposition of fuel adjustment component (FAC) from April and a hike in supplementary charges on super fast trains, will fetch the railways an additional revenue of Rs 4,683 crores in the next fiscal.
The FAC, which is being introduced on freight tariff from April 1, would alone fetch an additional revenue of Rs 4,200 crore, he said. However, the total outgo of the railways, primarily due to increase in diesel prices and electricity tariff, would be more than Rs 5,100 crore, Bansal said.
He reiterated that there was no increase on basic passenger fares now, though he did not rule out imposition of FAC on ticket prices in the future.
"I have left it to Parliament to discuss this issue," he said, adding that the FAC was not being imposed on passenger fares "as of now" and the railways would absorb the impact of Rs 850 crore on this count.
Maintaining that rail travel would not become dearer due to the revision in supplementary charges, the minister said the hike was only about 3 per cent.
"I have tried to improve financial health of railways. The growth of the railways goes along with the growth of the GDP," he said.
Bansal said IRCTC e-ticketing site would be able to book 7,200 tickets per minute as against 2,000 at present. Its handling capacity would also be enhanced to accommodate 1.2 lakh users simultaneously as against the present level of 40,000.
While the passenger growth is expected to be at the rate of 5.2 per cent, the gross traffic receipts are estimated to be about Rs 1,43,742 crore in 2013-14, marking an increase of over Rs 18,000 crore in 2012-13, Bansal said.