Railway chiefs yesterday defended fare increases which come into effect on May 1. Their comments came as the Democratic Party prepares a private member's bill to give legislators the right to scrutinise rail travel costs. The Transport Advisory Committee has voiced growing dissatisfaction that the railway corporations do not consult members before setting fares. But Mass Transit Railway Corporation chairman, Jack So Chak-kwong, said there were no grounds for change. He said the company had exercised restraint in the fare rises which take effect on May 1. Adult single journey fares will range from $4 to $12.50 per trip. The same trips on stored-value tickets will cost between $3.90 and $12.10. About 78 per cent of the 2.4 million passengers will have to pay between 10 cents to $1.20 more per trip, while nine per cent will pay 50 cents to $1.60 more. Six per cent will enjoy reduced fares and seven per cent face no increases at all. The cross-harbour journey sees the biggest rise of 13.6 per cent. Mr So said the MTRC would make an estimated $330 million a year from the increase. He said railway companies must be free from political influence in making financial decisions to maintain their high credit rating with banks. 'This is an envy of many countries in the world in that the Government does not need to put money into developing the railways,' he said. Chairman of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation Kevin Hyde said railway fares had been increasing at a rate lower than inflation. 'In real terms, the fares have become cheaper,' he said. Also from May 1, KCR fares will increase by 6.8 per cent, and Light Rail Transit by 8.7 per cent. Kowloon-Lowu fares will rise by $2 to $31.