New Delhi: The Railway Minister Pawan Bansal continues to take reform measures to improve the battered financial condition of Indian Railways. For this, not only rail services are being made costly but the concessional schemes are also being curtailed to improve the facility for the passengers.

Under the cost cutting campaign, the railway board has reduced the benefits under frequent travellers scheme.

Scheme of Frequent Travellers (SOFT) was operational for a long time. Under the SOFT, the passengers were issued concessional membership cards (Shubh Yatra Card) for annual fee of Rs 500. Points were earned in the ratio of fares (one point for one rupee) in the card. The earned points (minimum 500 points) were used to get concession for further travel or free travel under complementary tickets. The passengers used to get the cards renewed by paying Rs 300.

According to sources, the scheme was discontinued because railways were accounting losses. Apart from the 20 percent increase in passenger fares effective from January 22, cloak room fee and catering fee have also been raised. The railways has also reduced the expenses on advertising.

Announcing the increase in the rail fares on January 9, the Railway Minister had promised that there would not be any hike in the fare in the upcoming railway budget. But after the discontinuance of subsidy on diesel supplied to bulk buyers, the Railway Minister may overlook the promise and increase the fares. However, with these reforms, there is an indication of betterment of the rail services and facilities.

Sanjay Singh/JPN

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