LAHOREPakistan Railways administration has formally announced the increase in Railway fares by 10 to 20 per cent and the decision will be implemented from February 1st. The raise in fares of all the passenger and freight trains was announced after a high- level meeting held here on Saturday at Railway Headquarters. The decision was announced to generate funds for the cash-stricken Railways. General Manager Pakistan Railways Ishfaq Khattak while talking to the media said raise would generate additional revenue of Rs 2.30 billion annually for the department. According to the announcement, the hike in rail fares for passenger trains has increased by 10 per cent, express trains by 15 per cent; non-stop rails by 20 per cent, freight trains by 20 per cent, and inter-City rail fares increased by 15 per cent. Ishfaq Khattak said that the Federal Cabinet approved an increase in Railway fares in July last year, adding, that the decision was later reversed. He said that the government again approved an increase in fares and now, the Ministry will issue a notification in this regard soon. Highlighting the financial situation of the department, he said that even the State Bank had declined to extend an overdraft facility, contending that the Railways had already borrowed Rs 40 billion from government banks to meet its operational expenses. He further said that because of lack of funds, PR has been unable buy or repair its locomotives, adding, that despite having a fleet of 500 out of them only 156 are currently in working condition. He further said that PR has had to suspend train services in some parts of the country to curtail losses. He was of the view that from 80,000 employees working in the Railways about 20,000 were surplus. The meeting also decided to increase the minimum distance limit from 20 kilometres to 40 kilometres. The minimum fare for economy class would be Rs 25 and that of second class Rs 20. The official has termed the increase in fares by keeping in view the hike in POL prices. He said the increase in the salaries of employees, revision of rail fares had become inevitable. He said that increase in fares has been made in accordance with trains service while taking into consideration the financial limitations of the common man. Rail fares were not increased after 2008 when diesel was less than Rs50 per litre. Hike in electricity and gas charges besides 50 per cent rise in the salaries of employees increased financial burden on railways, he maintained. Meanwhile, Railway Union leaders condemned the increase in fares and termed it a bombshell on already poverty-stricken masses. Vice-President Prem Union Shaikh Anwar said in a situation when passenger trains were running in losses and majority of people were not ready to use trains due to poor facilities, the decision to increase fares would hamper ticket sales. 'The governments lack of interest in the revival of the utility also compelled the Raiways management to announce in Rail fares, he added.