The Indian Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, on March 13, 2013, justified the recent hike in railway fares and charges. The minister said that the cost of cancellation fees needed to be increased in a phased manner, so as to keep touts away.
The railway minister has invited proposals from business’ that have the intention of improving the Indian railways. Bansal was speaking at a debate on the Rail Budget 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha, when the opposition parties walked out of the session. They did so when he said that the ministry will focus on spending limited resources on rail safety and better services during the year.
The ministry is also looking towards modernizing stations through corporate help. For this, the railways will require Rs. 10 lakh crore for the maintenance of rolling stock and the upgrade of rail infrastructure and safety requirements. While talking about the problem of touts, Bansal said that usually ticket bookings are open for 120 days. After which, touts buy tickets in bulk on day 1 and sell them for the remaining 119 days. The agents then return the unsold tickets on the last day, after paying minimal cancellation charges.
The minister said that therefore it was essential to gradually increase the cancellation charges, so that unscrupulous people are kept away from the system.