On a day the United Progressive Alliance government was voted out of power, it committed a gaffe by withdrawing a railway tariff hike within hours of announcing it.
"It is now informed that under the directions of Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge, the decision on the proposed hike in the freight charges and passenger fares has been kept pending till further advice for placing this proposal before the new government," said a railway ministry clarification issued late on Friday evening.
Earlier in the evening, a railway press statement announced a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates and a flat 14.2 per cent in passenger fares. The increase was due from April 2014 but could not be implemented due to the model code of conduct.
For freight rates, the increase in the fuel adjustment component was to account for a 1.4 per cent increase and for passenger fares, 4.2 per cent. "Short lead concession in charging of freight for all traffic booked up to 100 km has been withdrawn. Minimum distance for charge has been increased from the existing 100 km to 125 km. The number of low-rated classes has been reduced from four to three. Certain concessions in case of some of these commodities have also been withdrawn," the previous press statement had said.
The railways had planned that second class monthly season ticket (MST) fares of suburban and non-suburban would be charged on the basis of 25 single journeys, instead of approximately 15 single journeys. Fares of first class MST would be charged four times the second class fares.
There was to be no change in the charges for reservation fee, superfast surcharge. Service tax would have continued to be levied as applicable according to instructions issued in this regard.