New Delhi: The railways on Wednesday informed the parliament that the cost of granting concessions to passengers "weighs heavily" on the national transporter, ruling out the restoration of the facility for all categories.
In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the Indian Railways is already bearing more than 50 per cent of the cost of travel, on an average, for all passengers, including senior citizens, on account of lower fare structure for passenger services.
"Apart from this, due to COVID-19, passenger earnings for the last two years is less in comparison to 2019-20. These have long-term impact on the financial health of the railways. Cost of granting concessions weighs heavily on the railways, hence extending scope of concessions to all categories of passengers, including senior citizens, is not desirable.
"In spite of these challenges, Indian Railways has continued concession in fare to four categories of persons with disabilities, 11 categories of patients and students," the minister said.
He also informed that the number of senior citizen passengers travelled in reserved classes during 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 are 6.18 crore, 1.90 crore and 5.55 crore, respectively. The minister attributed the decrease in travelling of number of senior citizen passengers during 2020-21 and 2021-22 due to the pandemic.
"In 2019-20, 22.62 lakh senior citizen passengers had opted to give up concession scheme in passenger fare and gave up concessions for the sustained development of Railways with better facilities," he said.
He also said that the railways has forgone Rs 4,794 crore as revenue foregone due to concessions in passenger fare to senior citizen passengers during 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 for both reserved and unreserved categories.