The proposed fares on the trains under the Suburban Rail Project will be way higher than the Mumbai or Chennai locals as these trains will have automatic doors and better safety features and high project cost. This is in line also with the new Metro Rail Policy unveiled in August 2017 whereby the Indian Railways will not subsidise fares under new projects, which it has been doing since the inception of the rail network. A minimum fare of Rs 13 and a maximum of Rs 100 has been proposed by the consultancy firm Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), approved by the Centre on Wednesday.
The minimum fare on Bengaluru Metro is `10 presently while the maximum is `60. Mumbai local trains charge Rs 5 for up to 10 km as 2nd class fare while suburban services across the country, including the ones run across Bengaluru presently, have Rs 5 as minimum fare.Srinivas Aluvelli, who spearheaded the ‘Chuku Buku Beku’ campaign said, “The whole concept of public transport is to keep it affordable, accessible and reliable. Studies have revealed a positive impact on the health of the public using mass transport. Hence, it needs to be either free or priced at a bare minimum.”
Calling for other cost-cutting measures to be adopted, Aluvelli felt that one or two compartments could be air-conditioned and have First Class fare and the others maintained as non-AC in order to keep the fares low. Rajkumar Dugar of Citizens for Citizens said, “The fares specified are very high. They are only slightly lesser than Metro. A rethink is definitely needed.”
A railway official said 65% of the 148.17-km network would be at grade while 35% would be elevated. “It costs up to `150 crore to put in place 1 km of elevated structure while it will be `30 crore per km at grade. The railway network is built at grade completely and so the cost is much cheaper,” he said.
Another official said that though it was called the Suburban project, it was modelled on Metro trains in all aspects. “So, it is not possible to have the same fare as passenger trains of the Indian Railways,” he said.
An official said that K-RIDE is executing the Rs 15,676 crore project 60% borrowings. “The Corporation needs to meet its operation costs as well as repay the loans to be taken.”