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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 July 2024

Restore senior citizens' concessions: Karti Chidambaram to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

In a letter to Vaishnaw, Chidambaram flagged several issues which, he said, needed urgent attention to ensure that Indian Railways remains commuter-friendly and provides a seamless travel experience for citizens

PTI New Delhi Published 13.06.24, 05:11 PM
Karti Chidambaram (L) and Ashwini Vaishnaw

Karti Chidambaram (L) and Ashwini Vaishnaw File photo

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram on Thursday urged Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw to restore senior citizens' concessions and address safety concerns related to ticketless travelling, ensuring the well-being of millions who rely on the national transporter for their daily commute.

In a letter to Vaishnaw, Chidambaram flagged several issues which, he said, needed urgent attention to ensure that Indian Railways remains commuter-friendly and provides a seamless travel experience for citizens.

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"Firstly, the suspension of the senior citizens' concession in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a pressing concern. Although the pandemic-related restrictions ended in 2021, this concession has not been reinstated as of 2024," the Congress MP from Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga said.

Previously, men above 60 years of age and women above 58 years received a concession of 40 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, he pointed out and added that since its withdrawal, senior citizens have had to pay full fare.

He pointed out that in August 2022, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways recommended that "the concessions granted to different categories of passengers should be considered judiciously".

The committee urged that the senior citizens' concession be reviewed and reinstated, at least in Sleeper Class and third AC, to help vulnerable and genuinely needy senior citizens, Chidambaram said in his letter to Vaishnaw.

"In a Rajya Sabha response on July 28, 2023, you mentioned that 'the Government provided a subsidy of Rs 59,837 crore on passenger tickets in 2019-20, amounting to a 53 per cent concession on average for every passenger'.

"However, the withdrawal of the senior citizens' concession indicates that the overall concessions provided before COVID-19 were more generous than the current average of 53 per cent," Chidambaram said.

Based on several RTI applications, it has been noted that the Indian Railways has earned over Rs 5,800 crore from the withdrawal of senior citizen concessions between March 20, 2020, and January 31, 2024, he said.

Given the vast scale of Indian Railways as the largest rail network in Asia and the second largest in the world, it is crucial to restore these concessions for senior citizens, the Congress leader argued.

"Additionally, I would like to draw your attention to a recent incident reported in the media. On June 11, 2024, many passengers were unable to board the Chennai Central-Howrah Superfast Mail in Chennai after ticketless individuals allegedly occupied reserved compartments," he said.

"Railway staff admitted that it is challenging to check every passenger for a confirmed ticket. Consequently, several passengers were stranded at the station without accommodation or alternative travel options. This incident is not isolated, as social media is rife with complaints about overcrowding by ticketless passengers, even on premium services like the Vande Bharat Express," Chidambaram said.

He called for Vaishnaw's personal intervention and swift action to restore senior citizens' concessions and address safety concerns related to ticketless passengers, ensuring the well-being of millions of Indians who rely on railways for their daily commute.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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