Good News For Senior Citizens Regarding Rail Ticket Concession
There is good news for Senior Citizens regarding Rail Ticket Concession. A parliamentary committee has urged the Railway Ministry to consider reinstating the travel benefits previously offered to senior citizens. In the past, Indian Railways used to provide a 40 percent fare discount for men aged 60 and above.
The parliamentary committee has recommended that the government reintroduce concessions for senior citizens traveling by rail. This appeal comes from a committee of Parliament, led by BJP MP Radha Mohan Singh, and is outlined in a report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways. The report was presented to both houses of Parliament during the budget session in March 2023.
How Much Concession Did Senior Citizens Receive?
According to the report, the committee notes that Indian Railways used to grant a 40 percent fare discount to men aged 60 and above, and a 50 percent discount to women aged 58 and above. These discounts were applicable to all classes in Mail/Express/Rajdhani/Shatabdi/Duronto group trains.
You can download PDF of ‘Facilities Extended to Senior Citizens’ available on Indian Railways official website on the link: Facilities Extended to Senior Citizens
'Senior Citizen Concession Waiver' Initiative
The Ministry of Railways had previously introduced the ‘Senior Citizen Concession Waiver’ initiative, offering senior citizens the option to purchase tickets without concessions, allowing them to contribute to the nation’s development. However, this exemption option was discontinued on March 20, 2020, as a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concession Suspended Since March 20, 2020
The exemption option for senior citizens was suspended on March 20, 2020, to curb the spread of COVID-19. The committee now believes that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, and the Railways have returned to normal operation. As a result, the committee is requesting the Ministry to consider reinstating the concessions for senior citizens in sleeper class and 3A class as soon as possible.
Supreme Court's Decision on Rail Fare Discounts
It’s worth noting that in April of this year, the Supreme Court of India rejected a plea to restore concessions for senior citizens in railway ticket prices. The court explained that it is the government’s responsibility to decide on this matter, taking into account the needs of senior citizens and the financial implications.
A bench of Justices SK Kaul and Ahsanuddin Amanullah was hearing a plea filed by MK Balakrishnan for restoration of the concessions that was discontinued in order to stem the spread of the disease.
“It would not be appropriate for this court to issue a writ of mandamus in a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution. It is for the government to take a call on the issue keeping in mind the needs of the senior citizens and the fiscal repercussions. Dismissed,” said the court, rejecting the petitioner’s contention that the state has an obligation to grant concessions to the elderly.
Railways' Revenue Gains from Concession Suspension
In response to an RTI query, the Railways revealed that between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023, concessions were not provided to nearly eight crore senior citizens. This figure includes about 4.6 crore men, 3.3 crore women, and 18,000 transgenders. During this period, the Railways generated a total revenue of ₹5,062 crore from senior citizen travelers, which included an additional ₹2,242 crore due to the suspension of concessions, as per the RTI reply.
Compared to the 2022-23 period, the total revenue from senior citizen travellers during 2020-22 was ₹3,464 crore which was ₹1,500 crore more than what it would have earned if they had offered the concessions to them.
Burden on Railways Due To Concessions
Railway concessions have been a recurring topic of discussion over the past two decades, with multiple committees advocating for their discontinuation. In response to this, in July 2016, the Railways introduced the ‘Senior Citizen Concession Waiver’ Initiative, making concessions for the elderly optional.
Official data reveals that the national railway system bears a substantial financial burden, estimated at approximately ₹2,000 crore annually, as a result of offering around 53 different types of concessions to various passenger categories. Notably, the senior citizen concession accounts for approximately 80 percent of the total discounts extended by the Railways.