Monday, June 14, 2021
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Rollback railway fare hike

This is what we call, acche din? Railways fare hike is justified if it imposes a minimal burden of 5 to 7 per cent on commuters a year. However, this newly formed government will burn a hole in the commuters’ pockets. If I talk only about season passes, it has been raised by 100 to 153 per cent. I know, our economy is going through a bad phase and to restore it we have to take some tough decision, but it should not come at the cost of causing hardships to commuters. People of this country has elected you because they were fed up with the inflation and wanted some relief from it. Inflation continues to remain very high which is cause of huge concern for the common man.

I would like to add that Mumbaikars have to bear many other expenses besides incurring the cost of rising railway monthly passes. A large section of people have to board buses or auto-rickshaws to reach their homes or offices even after alighting from trains. Auto fares are due for revision even though no efforts have been made by the government to improve its connectivity to railway stations. The newly inaugurated metro service too is likely to become expensive from next month onwards. Bechara! Common man, where will he go?

I request Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda to roll back the railway fares else you won’t be re-elected. Today, two people inquired with me about the roll back, one a railway commuter employed with a private institute and other my office boy. They also are worried about the additional burden imposed on them on account of the fare hike. My office boy asked me in a Mumbaikar’s accent ‘Sir isko hi acche din bolte hai kya, jo woh logo ne wada kiya tha? In a satire, I replied they had not mentioned about ‘your’s acche din’ but ‘theirs’. He laughed. I have no idea about the roll back issue as all the ministers and even the ‘bolta’ Prime Minister have gone underground.

It is hard to believe that this extraordinary hike has been done with full thought and understanding of the Mumbai situation. We have a lot of expectations from the new government and urge both the ministers to re-consider such a drastic step. Various other options are available through which revenue can be generated. We need good restaurants because we are bored with the tea stalls located at the railway stations. We require instant ambulance service at every railway station; more than 15 railway accidents (minor, major, and even death of the commuters) have occurred.

Many times, deaths occur due to lack of amenities at stations. There have been many suggestions to raise funds through the exploitation of valuable space near the railway stations. This would provide an opportunity for the institution to modernise stations and offer amenities such as restaurants, shopping and even decent paid toilets. Railways can sell scrap material so that it can earn revenue for one year without revising passenger fares. None of this has happened — instead illegal hawkers run their business near overbridges by bribing corrupt railway police.

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