Citing the financial health of the Indian Railways, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday said extending concessions to all categories of passengers, including senior citizens, is not desirable.
“Cost of granting concessions weighs heavily on Railways. Hence extending the scope of concessions to all categories of passengers, including senior citizens, is not desirable,” Vaishnaw said in response to an unstarred question by Phulo Devi Netam in the Rajya Sabha.
In spite of these challenges, Indian Railways has continued fare concession to four categories of persons with disabilities, 11 categories of patients and students.
The Railways bears more than 50 per cent of the cost of travel on average for all passengers, including senior citizens, on account of the lower fare structure for passenger services, the Minister said.
He also noted that due to Covid-19, passenger earnings for the last two years has been less than that in 2019-2020.
“These have a long-term impact on the financial health of the Railways,” he stressed.
During 2019-20, 22.62 lakh senior citizen passengers had opted to give up concessions for the development of Railways with better facilities.
In response to another question, the Minister said there is no proposal for operation of regular passenger train services over Indian Railways by private train operators.
In response to another question, Vaishnaw said in 2022, Indian Railways suffered a loss of ₹ 259.44 crore due to damage and destruction of railway assets in agitations against the Agneepath Scheme.