With the Planning Commission in no mood to oblige the rail ministry's demands for extra budgetary support for next financial year and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thrusting for boosting the internal financial resources, the railways will have to resort to levying 'smart surcharge' on the tickets.
This is to cover up the losses worth Rs 3,300 crore because of recent hike in diesel prices.
And if what the rail minister Pawan Bansal keeps everyone guessing on another round of ticket fare hike, 'smart surcharge' added to your tickets may be the one becoming a reality in the upcoming rail budget.
The ministry last month had effected a fare hike for all classes of rail travel, which promised railways an instant recovery of revenue worth Rs 6,500 crores in its empty coffers.
But barely days after it came to effect on January 21, the hike in diesel prices slashed the additional revenue by almost half. Railways used to pay Rs 12,500 crore annually for diesel bills before the hike and it will have to pay an additional Rs 3,300 crore now.
"It's time to reconsider as half of the revenue earned in fare hike will go in covering the hiked diesel cost," Bansal said.
Facing the pressure to perform, the surcharge that would be added on the tickets may be an answer.
The ministry has been working on these additional costs since the Congress-run Rail Bhavan started functioning. It has raised a nominal though price on catering served in Duranto, Rajdhanis and Shatabdis.
In association with Mail Today