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Two PILs challenge rail fare hike

Two public interest suits filed in the Bombay High Court have challenged the steep increase in suburban railway fares announced by the Centre last week. Former journalist, Ketan Tirodkar, has filed one petition while Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, a consumers’ organisation, has filed the other.

Tirodkar’s PIL was on Monday mentioned before the division Bench headed by Abhay Oka which would hear it on Tuesday. The other one would be mentioned on Tuesday.

Both PILs seek a stay to the suburban fare hike expected to come into effect from June 25. The respondents are Union of India (through Principal Secretary, Ministry of Railways) and government of Maharashtra.

Tirodkar contends that local trains are a lifeline of people of Mumbai metropolitan region as over 70 lakh commuters travel by them every day.

According to the new rates, a Rs 85 monthly season ticket (II Class) will now cost Rs 150, while a Rs 190 monthly pass will be priced at Rs 480. The monthly season pass of Rs 795 for the first class will cost Rs 1,930. Likewise, a first class commuter with a monthly pass of Rs 1,740 will now have to shell out Rs 2,120 more for the same journey, it says.

It also points out that between 1996 to 2000, the fares for upper classes were hiked keeping 2nd class fares constant.

The new rates would force commuters either not to travel by train or to travel without tickets, it says.

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