Kolkata: Railway Minister Mukul Roy, who last week withdrew a major portion of the rail fare increase proposed in the budget presented by his predecessor Dinesh Trivedi, on Monday refused to commit himself on a similar rollback of the across-the-board rail freight hike affected ahead of the budget.

To persistent queries whether he was not contemplating a rollback of the recent hike in freight rates ranging from 15 to 35 per cent, the minister said, "It was not in the Budget. The minister has to reply on Budget proposals only. So the question does not arise."

Pressed further by reporters at the Eastern Railway headquarters here, the minister reiterated what he said a little while ago.

Roy said safety, security and punctuality were his priorities while asserting that the Railways would strive to achieve a better operating ratio.

"Safety, security and punctuality are our priorities. It is the most friendly transport in the country and our effort will be to bring it more closer to the people," Roy told newspersons at Eastern Railway headquarters here.

Saying that the operating ratio of the Railways since 1973-74, when it was around 74, has never been below 90, he pointed out, "I will ensure that we work in a manner that we can achieve the old operating ratio."

Asked how he would tackle the financial constraints being faced by the Railways, he said, "In my reply to the debate on Railway Budget in both Houses of the Parliament, I have clearly stated the future objectives. So no further question should be raised."

When a reporter pointed out that he was being criticised by the CPI(M) that as a Railway minister he was confining himself mostly to Kolkata, he said, "The question is not about sitting in Delhi or Kolkata. The question is how you can perform. I know what my job is, I know what my duty is and how to tackle it."

The minister said that all pending projects would be completed within the time frame.

Roy said that in the first phase, he was here to discuss the pending projects of Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railway and the Metro Railway with the respective general managers and other officers.

Roy described the tenure of Mamata Banerjee, his party supremo, as Railway Minister as a 'glorious chapter' in the Indian Railways.