New Delhi: Improving its service day by day, the Indian Railways is taking a lot of initiatives for improvement in the facilities for its passengers. In one such recent development, bedroll kits could soon be included in the ticket price of the poor man's no frills AC train, the Garib Rath Express, but it could cost significantly more with the railways considering a hike from the Rs 25 fixed over a decade ago, senior officials said.
The review, in keeping with the steep rise in cost of maintaining the linen, is likely to be applicable in other trains as well, the officials said. Like the Garib Rath trains, prices for bedrolls have not been revised in the last decade for the other trains, they added.
The rethink follows a note from the office of the deputy Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), asking why a revision had not taken place for the "poor man's chariot" and recommending that the cost of the bedroll be included in the train fare.
"We have received the note and we are reviewing it. Prices cannot remain the same forever. There will be a review of the bedroll charges of the Garib Rath trains and they will likely be included in the price of the ticket in the next six months," a senior official said.
Presently, the railways supplies bedroll kits in all its air-conditioned coaches and their prices, around Rs 25, are included in the ticket fare. However, this does not hold for Garib Rath and Duronto trains where passengers across classes can book the kits while purchasing their tickets at the same rate.
Senior officials told PTI that there has been no revision of prices of the kits despite the rise in cost of procuring and maintaining them.
In the letter, the deputy CAG has said the railways should increase the cost of the bedrolls as it has not been reviewed in the last 12 years.
The note highlights the need for a review of the cost of the bedroll kits, comprising two sheets, one face towel, one pillow with cover and a blanket.
The cost of the kit, which a passenger has to pay for separately "according to his need", was fixed at Rs 25 in 2006, it said.
An official in the auditor's office said it was found during a review of the charges "recovered" for bedroll kits from the 26 Garib Rath trains that it had remained the same for 12 years, raising questions on the need for a hike to meet the steep rise in cost of maintaining them.
"It has been conveyed to the board that the office had calculated the increase in costs of such a kit since 2006 and found that the cost of washing them, cost of staff employed for the distribution of bedrolls to passengers, cost of space occupied in keeping them in trains and the cost of its maintenance had increased to a large extent during the span of last 12 years," the official said.
He added that the letter has asked the railways to explain if it had ever considered revising the bedroll kit charges for Garib Rath trains after prescribing it for the first time in October 2006, by viewing the increased cost of its constituents.
"Audit is of the opinion that the bedroll kit charges prescribed for the Garib Rath train should be revised accordingly and if possible, option for inclusion of bedroll kit charges in the fares of the Garib Rath train may be explored," the auditor said in its letter.