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With passenger fares unlikely to be hiked, Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi will today present his first railway budget for 2012-13 amid concerns over the financial health of the world's second largest network.
A cash-strapped Indian Railways, which runs 10,500 trains and ferries 22 million passengers daily over 64,000 km of track, is looking at an earnings shortfall of Rs.7,000 crore.
Poor financial management has left the Indian Railways staring at an earnings shortfall despite gross budgetary support of Rs. 20,000 crore last year and a Rs. 3,000 crore loan approved by the finance ministry on February 6.
Passenger fares have been on a freeze since 2002-03 as Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, a former railway minister, is opposed to hiking fares. In the process, the Railways has little money to expand the network. Trivedi is also a Trinamool leader.

From India, Ahmadabad

Dear Sagar
As a matter of fact, the passenger fare hike is not at all required. They have to to brainstorming and explore the possibilities as to where the cost control can be done. Once Lallu Prasad Yadav's innovative thinking escalated the profit of Railways by paying 30% charges, the companies can use the return goods train for shifting their materials instead of shuttling the empty goods trains. If they wish, surely they can abridge the gap of shortfall of Rs.7000 crore.

From India, Kumbakonam
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