New Delhi: People will have to pay more for entering railway stations as the rate for platform tickets will be doubled in select stations. The Indian Railways gearing up to levy a user development fee (UDF) in over 100 stations across the country shortly.
Firming up an action plan for speeding up the station redevelopment project, the railways is going ahead with the proposal for levying UDF in 121 stations next month.
Since the tender processes for the redevelopment of many stations is underway and the user fee would be part of the bidding document, the decision is crucial for expediting the project.
Stations, including Tirupati, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Nellore, Puducherry, Dehradun and Gwalior are awaiting the user fee decision to enter the request for proposal stage, many other stations are also in the process of finalising bids for the proposed redevelopment.
Though it would take some time for these rail premises to be redeveloped with world class amenities, the immediate effect will reflect in the prices of platform tickets at these shortlisted stations. A platform ticket will cost Rs 20 instead of Rs 10, the current price.
Train tickets for these stations are also expected to be more expensive once the decision comes into effect.
The station redevelopment project envisages Rs 50,000 crore worth of investment from private players, and the Railways is keen to push the scheme by making it attractive for the market. It will seek Cabinet approval for imposing the user fee – ranging between Rs 10 and Rs 35 in 121 major stations – to begin with, sources said that more stations would be added in a phase-wise manner.
The fee will vary from Sleeper to AC tickets, and has been kept to a minimum, a senior official involved with the project said. The Railways maintain that user charges are essentially a token amount which, after having been collected, will be ploughed back into the improvement of conveniences and facilities for all passengers.
The earlier proposal was to levy a user fee once station redevelopment was complete but with the Railway’s finances in stress, the measure is expected to raise funds for the upgradation of passenger amenities.
In a press conference on September 17, Railway Board CEO V.K. Yadav had said that the Railways would not levy user charges across all 7,000 stations but “all major stations where the footfall of passengers is increasing over the next five years.” He had added that the Centre will soon issue a notification about the same.
While it has been reliably learned that the user fee will range between Rs 10 and Rs 35, with the higher price for AC first class passengers, railways maintain that no final call has been taken on the amount.
It remains certain however that these user charges will be levied despite the opposition from railway unions.