Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov gave instructions to submit the schedule for the increase of railway fares for passengers before the government meeting on January 24 of this year. Talking with reporters today, he pointed out that the decision to raise the fares that came into force on January 1 was made as long ago as last November and was promptly announced by the Railroad Ministry. Another stage of balancing passengers' payments for railway services will take place in 2002. While before January 1 of this year they paid only 60% of the real cost of the railway service, this proportion has risen to 75% since January 1. The state pays the remaining 25%. The Prime Minister remarked that this measure obviously "does not apply to children on holiday trips and other categories of people eligible for discounts." In general, the schedule for changes in railway fares has to be specified, Kasyanov said. He explained that the changes in the fares this year should be divided into two stages: the first stage will take place in the first quarter, and "if necessary, taking into account the macroeconomic situation, (the second stage will be conducted) somewhere in the middle of the year, but the total annual rate (of increase) will not be more then 35%." It does not mean that all the natural monopolies will raise the fees for their services by 35%, "the rate (of increase) can be lower," Kasyanov added. A partial indexing is to take place in the first quarter, and monitoring will be conducted after that. According to Kasyanov, in February of this year he will hold a special meeting, following the increase in the railway fares for passengers and freight.