Chandigarh: With the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission raising its power tariff, Northern Railway too will have to cough up more prices to settle the electricity dues. Railways authorities have objected the move of power department to include Railways under the increased tariff rates.

PSERC in its new tariff order for the year 2011-12 has raised energy charges of railway traction from 541 paise per unit to 578 paise per unit, an increase of 6.84 per cent.

The new charges are also highest among all the power consumer categories in Punjab.

“New tariff rates (for Railway) are highest in the northern region, hike in tariff for railways will certainly increase our operational cost in Punjab as we do not have any choice,” a senior official of Northern Railway told reporters.

PSERC, this week, announced average hike in power tariff by 9.19 per cent on all kinds of energy consumers in the state.

NR is a bulk power user and three of its divisions including Ferozepur, Ambala and Delhi draw electricity energy from power utility Punjab state Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).

Over 180 million units are consumed by railways for traction and it contributes around Rs 100 crore, or 0.66 per cent to the total revenue of PSPCL.

NR has pointed out that the traction tariff of 541 paise is extremely high in Punjab against average traction tariff of 440 paise prevailing in other states.

In its objections filed with PSERC before the announcement of new tariff, Northern Railway Chief Electrical Distribution Engineer S K Kashyap had pointed out that existing traction charges were not justified as projected cost of power purchase of PSPCL had been pegged at 357 paise per unit.

He further said that increase in railway traction tariff would have a cascading effect on passenger fares as well as on commodity prices being hauled.

NR also revealed that it was expanding its electrification network in Punjab and higher traction tariff would act as a dampener for future plans of electrification because railways work on thin operating margin.