The Railways has earned an additional revenue of around Rs 2,242 crore from senior citizen travellers in 2022-23 by revoking concession offered to them, an RTI response has found.
The national transporter had generated Rs 1,500 crore in excess between March 20, 2020 -- when the assistance was suspended after the onset of the Covid pandemic -- and March 31, 2022.
In its reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Madhya Pradesh-based Chandra Shekhar Gaur, the Railways said that between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023, it did not offer concessions to almost eight crore senior citizens which included about 4.6 crore men, 3.3 crore women and 18,000 transgenders.
The total revenue from senior citizen travellers during the period is Rs 5,062 crore which includes an additional Rs 2,242 crore, earned due to the suspension of the concession, according to the RTI reply.
For the Railways, the earnings from senior citizen fares has increased at a steady pace. Between March 20, 2020 and March 31, 2022, the Railways did not offer concessions to 7.31 crore senior citizen travellers. These included 4.46 crore male passengers aged 60 years and above, 2.84 crore female travellers over 58 and 8,310 transgender people.
The total revenue from senior citizen travellers during 2020-22 was Rs 3,464 crore which was Rs 1,500 crore more than what it would have earned if they had offered the concessions to them.
During the financial year 2022-23, the Railways earned Rs 2,891 crore from male senior citizen passengers, Rs 2,169 crore from female travellers, and Rs 1.03 crore from transgenders.
Women senior citizen travellers are eligible for a 50 per cent concession, while male and transgenders can avail 40 per cent in all classes. The minimum age limit for a woman to avail the concession is 58 years, while it is 60 for a man.
The concessions, which were put on hold since March 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic hit the country, have remained suspended till date.
While train services remained suspended through most of 2020 and parts of 2021, the demand for concessions began surfacing as services normalised.
Over the last two decades, the Railways concessions have been a much-discussed topic with multiple committees recommending their withdrawal. As a result of this, in July 2016, the Railways made the concession for the elderly optional.
The national transporter incurs a huge burden of around Rs 2,000 crore every year due to around 53 types of concessions it offers to various kinds of passengers, according to official data.
The senior citizen concession amounts to around 80 per cent of the total discounts given by the Railways.
Recently, the Supreme Court rejected a plea seeking the restoration of concession in railway ticket prices for senior citizens.
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