Rail Budget 2013: Will P K Bansal bite the bullet on fare hike?
Bansal is likely to announce a slew of passenger-friendly measures such as improvement in catering service, development of stations and launching of about 100 new trains in his maiden budget on February 26.
All attention will be, however, on passenger fares as Bansal had recently told reporters that the increase in diesel price following the fare hike has negated the additional revenue which Railways expected to mop up by Rs 3,300 crore.
Cash-strapped Railways had effected passenger fare hike across the board by 21 per cent on January 22, aiming to mop up an additional revenue of Rs 6,600 crore.
Bansal has had several round of discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the Planning Commission in connection with the Rail Budget. He is also understood have discussed the possibility of fare hike
with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
However, sources said a section inside the Congress is not inclined towards effecting another round of hike as general elections are not far away.
The budget could also see some tinkering in freight rates despite resistance from the industry in the wake of slow economy growth.
Bansal is likely to announce the proposal for setting up of Rs 1,000 crore MEMU (Mainline Electric Multiple Unit) coach factory in