In the run-up to Railway Budget 2012, a parliamentary panel on Monday suggested that Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi hike passenger fares and mobilise internal resources to ensure safety and modernisation of the network.
Trivedi will present the Railway Budget on March 14.
The parliamentary consultative committee on railways also asked the ministry to implement the reports of the high level Safety Review Committee headed by Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and another on modernisation headed by Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister, which were submitted recently.
They strongly felt that the time has now come for taking strong measures to raise resources as experts of both the expert committees have projected huge fund requirement (around Rs 900,000 crore in 5 years) for safety and modernisation.
Noting that input costs like fuel, electricity, steel, cement and staff salaries have gone up manifold in the last decade, the panel members asked the railways to take measures to offset these by increasing fares and freight, which has not been done in the last nine years.
The members also pointed out that the passengers want better facilities, amenities and safe travel and will not mind paying increased fares for that purpose.
The panel also emphasised on providing improved passenger amenities, clean linen, clean coaches and stations and improved punctuality.
While some members also suggested improvements in the catering services specially the hygiene and quality of food, the others requested the ministry to expedite the work of various pending projects on doubling, gauge conversion and foot over bridge, road over bridges etc.
Trivedi said that the ministry and the elected representatives will have to work as a team to achieve the desired results.