Is IRCTC confusing senior citizens to give up their concession? Fact Check

As the Unlock process in full swing in various Indian states owing to the coronavirus pandemic, many train routes are slowly opening up. Train routes across various states were diverted or closed off previously due to travel restrictions in certain states. New guidelines have been put in place along with revised fares.

Digiteye India team received a message on its WhatsApp fact-checking number recently which stated that senior citizen concession in train booking is skewed. The long WhatsApp message said “at the time of booking with two tricky option for the senior citizens to give up the concession so far availed.” It added how the IRCTC portal shows an “OK” and a “Cancel” while booking through senior citizen concession. The message stated that the user should “Always click CANCEL TO AVAIL THE CONCESSION. Never click OK – As IRTC is now using technical words to loose your senior citizen benefits”.

Fact Check:

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has been issuing ticket concessions for categories which include — disabled passengers, patients, senior citizens, national awardees, war widows, students, youths, farmers, artists & sportspersons, medical professionals, among others. To avail the benefits, senior citizens need to book their tickets under this category.

Men aged 60 years and above can avail 40% off on tickets, while women aged 58 years and above can avail 50% off on tickets. While age proof is not required during ticket booking, the passenger is advised to carry the ID proof during travel as it will be required by the Ticket Collector for reviewing.

In 2019, the IRCTC gave senior citizens the option to fully avail the concession or give up the concession fully or just a part of it. Unlike what the message we received stated, IRCTC gives senior citizens three options while booking the tickets.

  1. Avail Full Concession: Under this, the passenger will get the full concession on the ticket price.
  2. Forgo 50% Concession: This will reduce only 50% of the concession amount. For eg: if the ticket costs Rs 200 and the full concession is Rs 100, under this the passenger will only get Rs 50 off from the initial Rs 200.
  3. Forgo full concession: The senior citizen can give up his concession benefits and no concession on the tickets will be provided. Taking into consideration the former example, the citizen then pays the full Rs 200 for the final ticket.

However, in the wake of COVID-19, these concessions are under hold now. The Indian Railways has suspended concessional booking of all tickets except for patients, students, and the disabled. The step has been taken “to prevent the vulnerable category of senior citizens from undertaking unnecessary travels in wake of rising coronavirus cases in the country”.  The concession is on hold with effect from 00:00 Hrs 20th March 2020, stated the notification issued in view of Covid-19 spread in the country. But  this move is temporary and the “restrictions are under constant review and will be thoroughly reviewed as trains services are restored to normal.”

Is senior citizen concession withdrawn?

Currently, students and people with some medical conditions are only eligible for concession. But the railways have clarified that it is not withdrawing the other concessions. The decision is under review as normal passenger trains remain suspended.

Conclusion: 

The claim in the message that the Indian Railways “indulge in such jugglery of words to confuse the senior citizens/passengers” is not true and is a misinterpretation of the self-explanatory options. Our rating is Misinterpretation.

About Snigdha Nalini

Snigdha Nalini is an intern with Digiteye India and a student of journalism at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), Pune. She can be reached at snigdha@digiteye.in.

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