Restarting concessions given to senior citizens on train fare is not desirable, the Centre told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
The Indian Railways had stopped up to 50% concessions given to senior citizens ahead of the countrywide lockdown imposed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, reported The Indian Express. Officials had said that the decision was taken to discourage elderly citizens who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus disease from taking up non-essential travel.
On Wednesday, Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw in response to a question cited losses as a reason for not restarting concessions given to senior citizens.
“Passenger segment over Indian Railways has suffered recurring loss due to low fare and concessions to different categories of passengers,” he said.
Vaishnaw said that the Railways was already bearing over 50% of the cost of travel on an average for all passengers due to its lower fare structure and that its earning have also suffered due to the pandemic.
“These have long term impact on the financial health of the Railways,” he said. “Cost of granting concessions weighs heavily on Railways, hence extending scope of concessions to all categories of passengers including senior citizens is not desirable.”
The Railways lost revenue of Rs 1,491 crore in 2017-’18, Rs 1,636 crore in 2018-’19 and Rs 1,667 crore in 2019-’20 due to concessions given to senior citizens, data shared by the minister showed.
Vaishnaw also said that Railways operate various types of train services that have different classes, including first ac, second ac, chair car and sleeper class. He said these have different fare structure and passengers, including senior citizens, can travel according to their preference.
Meanwhile, Vaishnaw clarified that concessions in fare to four categories of persons with disabilities and 11 categories of patients and students was continuing.