NEW DELHI: The response to the Railway Ministry's 'Give Up' initiative -- which urges senior citizens to forgo ticket subsidy -- has not been encouraging and the concession accounted for 52.5 per cent of the total allowed by the national transporter, with most of them availed of in AC classes, the CAG said in a report on Monday The initiative, started in 2017, encourages senior citizens to give up their train fare concessions -- 50 per cent or 100 per cent -- as part of the Railways' bid to increase revenue.
The report stated that during 2015-2016 to 2017-2018, a total of Rs 3894.32 crore was given as concession to 16.48 crore senior citizen passengers.
The number of such passengers had grown from 5.09 crore in 2015-2016 to 5.92 crore in 2017-2018 with the corresponding increase in the amount of concession from Rs 1,194 crore to Rs 1,411.23 crore, according to the audit report.
"The response to 'Give Up' scheme from the senior citizen passengers was not encouraging. The annual rate of growth in terms of number of passengers travelling in AC classes in all the categories of concessions was higher than that of the non-AC classes," the report stated.
"Review of the impact of concessions allowed to passengers revealed that 89.7 per cent of the revenue forgone towards concessions was on account of concession to senior citizens (52.5 per cent) and Privilege Pass/PTO holders (37.2)," it said.
The report said that out of total 4.41 crore senior citizen passengers, 7.53 lakh (1.7 per cent) passengers opted to give up 50 per cent concession and 10.9 lakh (2.47 per cent) passengers gave up 100 per cent concession.
The month-wise analysis showed that the number of senior citizens who gave up concession has declined since August 2017, a month after the scheme was introduced.
The number of female senior citizens availing concession increased by 8.40 per cent in 2017-2018 from the previous year while the number of male senior citizens increased by 8.54 per cent.
"The amount of revenue given as concession to female and male senior citizens registered a growth of 9.3 per cent and 9.8 per cent respectively in the year 2017-2018 as compared to the previous year in terms of amounts allowed for concession," the report said.
The report said that 54 per cent senior citizens who travelled in sleeper class were given the concessional benefit of 34 per cent of the total amount of concession allowed to senior citizens as a whole, whereas seven per cent of them travelling in AC-2 availed 20 per cent of the total amount of concession.
Similarly, in AC-3, 16 per cent of senior citizens passengers availed 32 per cent of the total amount of senior citizen concession.
"Thus, the senior citizen passengers travelling in AC class availed of the maximum concessional benefit as compared to the senior citizen passengers who travelled in non -AC classes," the report stated.
The CAG said while the Railways earned Rs 88,064 crore revenue from 190 crore reserved passengers between 2015 and 2018, it allowed concession of Rs 7,418 crore (8.42 per cent) to 21.75 crore (11.45 per cent) reserved passengers during the same period.
The annual rate of growth in terms of number of passengers travelling in AC classes in all the categories of concessions was higher than that in the non-AC classes.
The number of passengers travelling on various concessions in all AC classes was 7.85 crores who availed concessions worth Rs 5235.44 crore, the report said.
In 2AC and 3AC classes, total 6.18 crore passengers had availed concession of Rs 4685 crore.
On the other hand, in all non-AC classes 13.91 crore passengers availed a concession of Rs 2183 crore.
Out of the non-AC classes, in sleeper class, 11.42 crore passengers had availed concession amount of Rs 2059 crore "Although the majority of the concessional passengers travelled in the non-AC classes, the AC classes have the maximum impact on the reserved passenger earnings of railways.
"The share of the amount of concession in non-AC class passengers was far less than the concession availed by the AC passengers which is indicative of equitable distribution of the element of concession," the report stated.
The national auditor also said that Railways was unable to meet its operational cost of passenger services and other coaching services.
Almost 95 per cent of the profit from freight traffic was utilized to compensate the loss on the operation of passenger and other coaching services.
One of contributing factor in this regard has been free and concessional fare tickets/passes and Privilege Ticket Orders (PTOs) to various beneficiaries, the report said.
Several instances of misuse of passes and irregular grant of concessions on medical certificates were noticed.
Passenger Reservation System lacks adequate validation controls to validate age of freedom fighters and to prevent irregular multiple booking on the same privilege pass, the report said.