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As high as 24 million people travel by trains in India annually and so, the Railway Budget is a big deal when it comes to new trains, fare changes, improvements, plans, etc. Last year, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had many a good news for train travelers as he rolled out plans like faster trains, better connectivity to remote places, improved look and more. However, for the first time, this budget will now be a part of the Union Budget 2017 which means, we will get updates directly from the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 1, 2017. While we do not know what is in store for us in terms of new trains, etc. there is talk about traveling in trains to become more expensive this year onwards. ALSO SEE More trains to northeast India Also Read - Sebi evolving as per needs of economy: Arun Jaitley
The hike in fares is likely to be reflected in second class and AC three-tier tickets as their base fare is lower while there will be marginal changes in AC one-tier and two-tier tickets as well. The fare change however is to fund a safety corpus called Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh. The plan came into being due to a number of deaths caused because of train derailments in 2016. The safety fund will help provide relief money in an unfortunate incident. Also Read - Prime Minister Narendra Modi turns poetic in Rajya Sabha
It was Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s idea to get the centre to fund the safety cess completely, but the plea was not accepted and the government decided to fund only 25 per cent of the fund from the Consolidated Fund of India. The fare change may affect the number of travelers from taking the trains as already, the shift is towards air travel that offers marginally more expensive tickets and even at par and lower fares at times. Since air travel saves up on a lot of commuting time, many regular train passengers now prefer it to the railways. ALSO SEE Photos of new coaches that will inspire you to take the train
Whether the fare change comes in is yet to be seen on February 1. It is expected that the ministry will continue with dynamic pricing for its premium trains even in the new financial year and is likely to get support from the Union Budget to meet its capital expenditure. On the other hand, the ministry is likely to lower the cost on freight so that cargo does not move to other modes of transport. We will have to wait and watch to see the final fare changes in train tickets and hope they aren’t too high, after all, we’d love to go on more train journeys this year. What about you?
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