BENGALURU: Senior citizens are distraught as Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has announced that concession in train fare, which were withdrawn during the pandemic, will be permanently scrapped. The Minister has reiterated the decision at a Press meet in Chennai last week. Seniors were hoping that as the pandemic receeds, the subsidies would be restored.
CPI MP from Kerala, Binoy Viswam on Monday urged the Railway Minister to restore it as crores of senior citizens have been affected due to its withdrawal. They were entitled to the concession for decades with men (60 years and above) given a 40 per cent discount on the ticket and women (58 years and above) get 50 per cent discount. The Minister explained that since the railways was operating at a subsidised rate with Rs 45 collected from any passenger for every Rs 100 spent towards operational expenses, the subsidies cannot be restored.
74-year-old R Rajammal said, “There are a few privileges we get as seniors. This was an important one and it must be brought back. It just shows that the government does not value its elderly,” she said.
67-year-old KN Krishnaprasad, also a vocal rail activist, said, “I really hope better sense prevails on the Indian Railways soon. It is not a good decision to withdraw benefit or concession already provided.”
Senior citizen Anil Verma, who had reached Cantonment railway station on Monday from Palakkad said, “I can afford the full fare and so have never availed the concession. But countless elders use them daily and therefore, it needs to be restored”
An elderly couple who had arrived at the city from Chennai wished for it. “I will really be relieved and happy if it is restored,” said A Lalitha, a homemaker. Her husband, C S Padmanabhan, a retired banker said, “We had to pay Rs 600 each for our AC 3-tier ticket for this trip. It used to be Rs 450 for me and Rs 400 for my wife earlier.” CPRO, Aneesh Hegde said, “It is a policy decision by the Railways. The Zone is adhering to it. However, we still provide concessions to four categories of Divyangjans, 11 categories of patients and students.”