NEW DELHI:Vimla Sinha, 77, decided to forego a 50 per cent senior citizen subsidy on her train ticket for a journey f rom Patna to Ranchi—she could afford the full fare. It was a small step to ease railways’ huge subsidy burden.
Vimla isn’t the only one. There are about 8.60 lakh senior citizens who did not avail railway subsidy since the launch of the Government’s ‘Give it Up’ campaign on July 22. The campaign was launched because the Railways’ losses were more than Rs 35,000 crore per year.
The data collated by railways show a total of 8.60 lakh senior citizens gave up the subsidy between July 22 and October 22. The number of senior citizens who did not avail the subsidy is 5 percent of total 169 lakh senior citizens who travelled in that time.
The railways offer three options to passengers who book tickets online: 100 per cent, 50 per cent and no subsidy. Many senior citizens The Sunday Standard spoke to either did not know about the campaign or had doubts about availing procedures. At least 15 senior citizens The Sunday Standard spoke to did not avail the subsidy. Of them three took a conscious decision to forego the subsidy.
“I booked the ticket for my mother (Vimla Sinha) and I saw the option of not availing the subsidy. I thought that we as a family can afford the complete fare and opted for no subsidy. Many people have given up their cooking gas subsidy and I feel this was my small contribution to nation-building,” said Abhinav. Sinha paid Rs 545 for the journey between Patna and Ranchi. Om Prakash of Karnal, too, did not avail the subsidy.
“Other passengers who did not avail the subsidy were of the view that they will take it next time. “I did not know that there is a senior citizen subsidy. I would like to avail it in my next journey,” said Harezul SK, 61.
Railway offers 53 concessions in various categories like divyang (differently-abled people), senior citizens, students, defence personnel etc.. These concessions amount to Rs 1,600 crore annually with the highest Rs 13,00 crore offered to senior citizens. .
Men above 60 years of age are given 40 per cent concession on base fare while women above the age of 58 years can avail 50 per cent concession in all classes.
“Railways earn only 57 paisa on every rupee a passenger spends on fare and 43 paisa is the subsidy. Only 37 per cent is recovered in suburban services,” a railway ministry official said.
Senior citizens who gave up the subsidy
July 22-Oct 22, 2017
Male: Over 4.60 lakh
Female: Over 3.90 lakh
Total: Over 8.50 lakh
July 22-Oct 22, 2016
Male: Over 2.30 lakh
Female: Over 2.3 lakh
Total: Over 4.60 lakh