So far, the senior citizens – men aged 60 years and above and women over 58 years – were eligible to avail themselves of the concession even if they travelled with their family members in other age groups. For senior citizens, 40 per cent concession is offered to men and 50 per cent to women.
The new rule will cause difficulty to aged couples used to travelling together as they will be allotted berths apart from one another. The Railways ought to have evaluated prospects and consequences before introducing any new rule, K.N.Basha, former Member Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee, said, seeking withdrawal of the latest rule.
Rail passengers say the new rule negates the intent of the favourable announcement made by the Railways earlier this year, promising reservation in lower berths for senior citizens. A provision was created in the computerised passenger reservation system to allot lower berth automatically to senior citizens subject to availability at the time of booking of ticket. A combined reservation quota of four lower berths per coach is earmarked in Sleeper, and two per coach in AC 3Tier and AC 2Tier for senior citizens, female passengers aged 45 years and above, and pregnant women.