Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Wednesday hinted that the concessions given to the senior citizens in the railways may not be restored as of now as he said that Rs 59,000 crore subsidy for the passenger services were given last year and pension and salary bills of the public transporter are very high.
Vaishnaw was responding to a question by independent MP from Maharashtra Navneet Rana in Lok Sabha on when the concessions given to the senior citizens in train travel will be restored. It has been suspended since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister said the railways had given Rs 59,000 crore subsidy for passenger services, which is a big amount and larger than the annual budget of some states.
He said the annual pension bill of the railways is Rs 60,000 crore, the salary bill is Rs 97,000 crore while Rs 40,000 crore is being spent on fuel. “We have given Rs 59,000 passenger subsidy last year, new facilities are coming. If new decisions are to be taken, we will take them. But as of now, everyone should look into the conditions of the railways,” he said.
Replying to another question, Vaishnaw said currently the Vande Bharat trains are running with sitting capacity with a maximum distance of 500 to 550 km and once the Vande Bharat trains with sleeping facilities will ply, the trains will cover longer distances.
He also said plans are afoot to connect Ayodhya with every nook and corner of the country by trains once the construction of the Ram temple is completed. The minister said the redevelopment of 41 major railway stations is going on while the rest of the stations will be developed phase-wise. He said the railways have set a target of 2030 to be completely pollution free and work on this is going on, that include development of hydrogen trains to be designed, developed and made by Indian engineers.