'No plans of restoring rail concessions for senior citizens'
New Delhi: Nearly seven crore senior citizens travelled by trains without availing concessions over the last two years since the Railways suspended the facility in March 2020, Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Wednesday.
He also said that the ministry has no plans of restoring the concessions at present.
In a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said between 20 March, 2020 and 31 March 2021, 1.87 crore senior citizens travelled by trains while between April 1, 2021 and February 2022, 4.74 crore availed rail services.
The minister also said approximately 12 crore senior citizens (both reserved and unreserved) availed concession in passenger fare during 2019-20 and revenue foregone due to concession on this account for the same period was approximately Rs 1,667 crore.
"Since age of unreserved senior citizen passengers in unreserved ticketing system (UTS) is not captured and concession to this category were withdrawn from 20.03.2020, data for unreserved senior citizen passenger is not available for the mentioned period," Vaishnaw said on the Railways' savings from the suspension of the facility.
In view of the pandemic and Covid protocol with effect from March 20, 2020, the Railways has continued concession to only four categories of Divyangjan, 11 categories of patients, and students.
"Due to challenges posed by COVID-19, total passenger revenue generated during 2020-21 is less in comparison to the year 2019-2020 pre-Covid period. Cost of granting concessions weigh heavily on Railways, hence extending the scope of concessions to all categories of passengers including senior citizens is not desirable at present," he added.