UnNews:India rail touts low price of India rail

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10 January 2016

Rudyard Kipling first established the great travel value of the unreserved general class from the Indian Railway Ministry.

NEW DELHI, India -- The Indian Railway Ministry published a chart showing that typical train fare costs less than a basket of products that the typical passenger would not want anyway, from apples to toothpaste.

It noted that Rs 85, the cost of passage from here to Agra, is less expensive than a kilogram of apples. Rs 95 to reach Chandigarh beats the cost of a 140g tube of toothpaste. The Ministry did not go as far as to assert that, if one has bad breath, reaching Chandigarh is an effective work-around.

The example fares are for the unreserved general class, which means that, if you can get passage at all, it will be in a cramped wooden compartment packed with people who obviously never eat apples and would not know what to do with a tube of toothpaste if it hit them, something that only happens in Kerala.

The fares are kept so low because the Indian Railway Ministry subsidises passenger rail, to the tune of Rs 30,000 crone, by overcharging for freight shipments, which drives up the price of apples and toothpaste.

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Asked whether the fares can stay this low, an Indian Railway Minister who would not give his name said, "there is a need for rationalisation, but there is no such proposal." Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a fan of the free market, also called for "rationalisation" but told riders, "If you like your train service, you can keep your train service. Period," and probably told freight shippers they would not have to. Thus, whenever fares go up, it will be because it just happened, that's all. And it will still beat either eating apples or brushing teeth.

Longer journeys are equally thrifty, compared to the price of Indian food, which is expensive in India, owing to the need to ship it back from the United Kingdom. The chart shows that Rs 140 for a ride to Amritsar beats 1 Kg of mustard oil, a big batch of desi ghee, and a 1 Kg turd (unpolished).