Free train travels of sitting and former Lok Sabha members over the past five years have cost the exchequer Rs 62 crore, which included nearly Rs 2.5 crore in the pandemic-hit 2020-21, according to information revealed under the RTI Act.
While sitting MPs are entitled to use the railways’ first class air-conditioned or executive class for free, their spouses too can avail free travel under certain conditions.
Former MPs are also entitled to travel in any train in AC-2 tier along with a companion or in AC-1 if alone.
In the response to a Right to Information query filed by Madhya Pradesh-based Chandra Shekhar Gaur, the Lok Sabha Secretariat said it has received a bill of Rs 35.21 crore from the Railways for the travel of sitting MPs and Rs 26.82 crore for former MPs during 2017-2018 to 2021-22.
According to the response, the MPs and ex-MPs also used the Railway passes even during the pandemic-hit year of 2020-21 when their bill was Rs 1.29 crore and Rs 1.18 crore, respectively.
The Railways’ pay and accounts department forwards the bills to the LS Secretariat for processing. The Railways has recently put on hold an array of concessions it offered to certain categories of passengers including senior citizens.While there was subdued anger among certain sections over the move, the discontinuation of the subsidy given to senior citizens has drawn a lot of ire. According to official data, between March 20, 2020 and March 31, 2022, the Railways did not offer concessions to 7.31 crore senior citizen travellers. These included 4.46 crore males over the age of 60, and 2.84 crore females over 58 and 8,310 transgender people.