New Delhi: The Railways has seen an almost 24 percent dip in the number of senior citizens travelling by trains in 2021-22 as compared to 2019-2020, according to an RTI query.
Officials said this dip can be attributed to the second wave of COVID-19, when fewer people were travelling by trains. This was also the time the Railways withdrew concessions for senior citizens, they said.
In 2018-2019, 7.1 crore senior citizens travelled by trains, while in 2019-20, the number rose to 7.2 crore.
In the pandemic-hit 2020-21, only around 1.9 crore citizens aged above 60 years travelled by train. However, in 2021-22, about 5.5 crore used the Railways.
Due to the decrease in number of passengers, the Railways has experienced a dip in revenue from this category, with the earnings showing a downward slide of 13 percent.
The total revenue from senior citizen travellers during 2018-2019 was Rs 2,920 crore, Rs 3,010 crore in 2019-2020, Rs 875 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 2,598 crore in 2021-22, according to the RTI response.
The coronavirus-related travel restrictions imposed during the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020 continued to be in place until the end of second wave of the pandemic.
Women senior citizen travellers are eligible for a 50 percent concession, while men and transgender people can avail 40 percent in all classes. The minimum age limit for women passengers to avail the concession is 58, while it is 60 for men.
The concessions, which were put on hold from March 2020, have remained suspended to this day, with senior officials indicating that they might not be re-introduced.
The data, however, shows that in the first six months of this fiscal, the Railways is on course to recover its lost traffic. Till September this year, 3.8 crore senior citizens have availed train services and the Railways has generated a revenue of Rs 2,335 crore.