Lifetime Free passes for Railway Employees – is it justified ?


Suppose you’re an employee of a general store, do you expect the owner of that store to provide for your annual requirements of food grains free of cost? And, what if you work in some jewellery shop? Do you expect free gold coins for yourself as yearly bonus?

Not really! You have to pay for them even if you’re working in companies dealing with such products. At best, you might request your employer to trim his business profits for the shopping done by you from his store for a preferential treatment as an employee.

In that case, why do Railway employees enjoy the facility of free railways passes – simply because they are railways employees? Yes, as many as 25 lakh railways employees – 14 lakh from the working group and 11 lakh retired employees – currently enjoy the privilege of free rides. How much is it justified?

Indian Railways

In this regard, a proposal has been given by Expenditure Reform Commission to increase the revenues of the Railways. If this proposal is accepted by the Cabinet in its review of the prevalent practice; this discrepancy may soon come to an end. But, even if any such a decision is reached by the Centre, it is likely to meet strong resistance from the railway employee unions.

A report says that currently the Railways annually provide 6 privilege passes to each of its officers and four passes to its workers, allowing them a free ride. If they’re asked to pay, the cumulative figures would work out to hundred of crores of revenues for the state-owned Indian Railways – which has about 13000 officers and the remaining as workers.

Having said that, the Railways do not pay leave travel allowance (LTA) to such employees who enjoy the benefits of free ride. Well, that’s fair enough! But, my personal opinion being that Railways should instead provide for the basic LTA to its employees and scrap the aged-old system of providing free passes, prevailing since the British Raj.

Frankly, this base issue applies in many other portfolios of our daily life – and not just limited to Indian Railways. The same should be enforced in other departments too.

What’s your opinion on this – Should it be LTA or Free-pass – for the Railways Employees?

  1. prasanna says

    Dear Viral Dholakia,

    Thanks for raising such a good question. Railway free passes can be given only to the critical employees like the Engine Drivers.

    But continuing the pass after the retirement is too costly. I would request you to escalate such issue in quora by tagging Shree Piyush Goyal and we all can discuss the same.

    We will start the argument with the data of how much loss indian raliways is getting by means of this free pass.

    Not only pass, quarters, grounds , canteens, halls and the list is end less.

    Like every company, railways is also meant to be run for profit.


  2. M a ramaiah says

    A loco employee of railways has occupied the reserved seats, along with his wife and son. B1 coach of Visakhapatnam 17016. Seat no.s ,5,& 6. This has caused a lot of inconvience to the travellers. The TT is silent about the incident. The employee is adament in his attitude. Is it justified and permitted by the employee.

  3. Gordon Ferris says

    The free travel for railway employees is part of the payment structure and in some way goes to supplement the meagre wages, particularly of the lower graded staff.

  4. OP SINHA says

    Railways is a welfare industry. It provide free passes to Blid personel, Param Veer chakra holder, freedom fighter, cancer pateints, and many other citizens of india. then it fully justified that the railway employees are getting free passes.

  5. R.V.Raghunathan says

    I am Raghunathan, Government Servant. Your opinion is 100% correct. All the railway employees irrespective of category i.e. designation travel in the first class and AC coaches of the express trains. People like us pay nearly Rs.2000/- (quarterly season ticket) and travel to our destination by standing. Nearly 95% of the commuters in the first class suburban train are railway employees. The government should curb such practice of giving freebies. As a Government servant, they are entitled to travel anywhere on concession/privilege, I am also a government servant but the Government has not extended the facility to me. As you rightly said what will happen if all the Government servant ask for such concession from their employer. Whether this type of concession is available to Air Transport, Bus Transport and Seaport employees. If so and if all the government employees get something free as a privilege what about the other non-government people. Are they fools to spend thousands of rupees to travel in AC and first class coaches. This type of discrimination is to be avoided.

    1. AGK says

      If you also given this type of benefits your goddamn mouths will shut off you are paid by LTA and railway servents get paid as passes. Railway should give you subsidised quarterly passes and tickets but it should not think abt the welfare of its staffs. What’s your stand Mr so called govt officer????

  6. Shoeb says

    This is really great. It is a good step taken by Indian railways in order to help out the railway employees. It’s really amazing, i totally appreciate that.

  7. n.ramaswami says

    i am a senior officer retired from railways more than two decades ago. free passes is a myth actually. while in service getting leave particularly to running staff is a problem and hence the use of their passes is very limited. moreover most of the people travel short distances or to their native place and not all passes are used. there are many who live in south and have not seen even delhi and living in north never seen south tamilnadu or kerala etc. in the case of retired employees as they grow old even when a companion is given or an attendant is provided they are not able to travel and even if they do it is for short distance (long distance they go by air as they are accompanied by their children). of course every railway employee serving or retired do is that they take a pass mostly for the longest distance say from jammutawi to kanyakumari or even from some unknown place in the corner of the country to another corner and never travel in that pass or travel for a very short distance iinbetween!!!!!!!!!the railway pass to railway employees is really a myth. Oh yes, it is more than 67 years and there are freedom fighters passes even now(may be for those of fifty or sixty years!!!!!!)passes for MPs with companions (mostly misused particularly in the case of companions)who have retired also etc. and all and sundry. if a proper check is kept on all this there will be a block of leakage of revenue.

    1. AGK says

      You said it right Mr vetaran. We are sacrificing many more things than any govt servants for the nation. We never used the given pass from end to end

  8. Lkdv Satyanarayana says

    yes it is better to provide Leave Travel Allowance, because their is no chance to go and use free railway at all the time… from satya(Railway employee).

  9. SAI says

    Why don’t u go for Right ti information & get the details monetary value of Passes being issued on Indian Railways

  10. Rajmohan Chauhan says

    Railway Passes are more lapsed than used because of many reasons like Children's Studies etc. I may have used only 15 Free Passes in 32 years service. It is better to provide LTA.

  11. rg gurung says

    Dear sir
    Life time railway pass must be continued c use I believe that while in active service NINETY percent of railway workers do not have the opportunity to avail their pass in the true sense, that is most of them get their pass issued to cover only a small part of their place of suburban pass.Moreover most of them do not have leave left to go for extra outing .This is a small trade privilege given to the humble hardworking railway men so please do not feel jealous….

  12. Life time railway passes should not be permitted.

  13. Life time railway passes should not be permitted.

  14. praveen says

    raiway worker 60 year par retairment hota to famaily ka samband railwaay se kat jata hai is par koi rool ana chaeye

  15. Ravi says

    I think it is very much fair to give Railway employees free pass for travelling in railways. As many others have commented, it is very much comparable to perks received by others in both public and private sectors. These are perks given to encourage employees and feel good and have an ownership about their company.

  16. Chand CP says

    Bachapan se Aaj Tak Tumne Apne Maa ka Doodh Piya, Baap ka Dhan Khaya.
    Kya in Sabka Tumne Kiraya athawa Karj Chukaya hai..?
    Nahi na..!
    Hum es Railway Roopi Maa ka Bachche hai.
    or Bachhe Maa, Baap ko kiraya ya karj nahi Chukate…….

    A Railway Employee

  17. Gautam Kumar Layek says

    Went through your comments folks ……….. as it can’t be denied that giving this much of benefits is a loss somewhere to some …. it’s also justifiably pertinent that Railways is an organisation and can give facilities like that to its employees by discretion. Now …. not to be communist by saying that everyone should be extended same distribution and not to be diplomatic by saying that it’s an individualism which Railways is trying. Indian Railways is an organisation but it’s Government we are speaking about ….. And the question is will it be better for the country …… if this system is stopped ???

    I say … “YES” …… Railway revenues is a part of Govt. income ….. and this be capitalized will always benefit the people. Does the people in Railways really need this much of advantage … Cause this facility accumulates to about Rs. 4,00,000/- minimum in an employees career (retrieving even half of which will be fair enough). So that Government to has the ability to expense money cause this may cause a profit of around Rs 80 thousand crores in time to come. We already skip revenue, hide incomes and steal taxes. Now government should not extend an extra hand to help people do the same. May be …….. this is the reason why in countries in Europe or America can afford to reach a Helicopter to the farthest places and even countrysides in their medical exigencies within 15-20 minutes ……… and we can’t manage an ambulance in one hour and admit the patient till several hours….. Think folks …. It’s your country ………. And it comes first of everything …. any other logic is simply bullshit

  18. M L K RAO says

    The debate interestingly seems to be a time passing one and perhaps the author has lot time with him.Can one ensure same monetary return to same nature of work in all organisations? If this simple logic is accepted, Okay, the rail men!s pass prevelege can be dispensed with. Every organisation is giving some or other benefits in different ways to its employees. There should be no grudge on this.

  19. Vijay Mathew says

    Totally wrong informations furnished in the article, Only Rly Ofiicers get six set of 6 passes, whereas others gets only 3 sets of passes in a year, most of the railway employees do not use this previlage as they get only pass, not accommodation and other expenditures unlike LTA . Why don’t the author relate the benefits a rail employee receive with the CPSU’s, banks etc… as railway is now functioning more or less industrial in nature or introspect with his own profession.

  20. dorai raj says

    I fully agree with Mr. Ananad’s comments above . It seems recently Railway board has taken descission to provide 4 sets of pases to retired Railway officeres who enjoyed their service with family whenever they go on duty and enjoyed the AC fecilities in the offices. After retirement also they are working as consultants and getting all the preveleges as before. By providing them 4 sets of passes, the upper classes of railway coaches will be full of railway retired officers only and the general public will suffer. With this Rasilways will run in loss. I feel the Railway Minister should think of this matter.

  21. Anand says

    Stop that what do you know about the largest rail network in the world and the backbone of it the employees.after 1994 there has been no recruitment in railways but still day by day their is enormous large traffic efficiently handled with less employees.pass is a gift to them .do u know the life of a track man,gang man or even the loco pilot.what is the work of politicians and how much amenities they enjoy do u know.compared o that this is nothing.think before start up a topic

  22. sweta verma says

    railway employees should definitely get free passes for life time….they deserve it..

    nobody dare to change this rule…..

  23. sanjay says

    free pass not gating only railway emply even all arme handicapet siner citizen student so mutch kinds of pepole are geting a benifit because railway not a jollory shop grosary shop ! if railway only see the bisnus so some pleses stop the rail services due to continous some area railway have a lose the benifit one loco pilot working in six continous night and in 24 hour cotinous working only get 8hour rest like that 3to 4day conditon allways without shudule working ?and some time his working hour also going on 15 to 16 hour get relif in any mid section and also trehtnised by railway officers a one gangman and key man also verious railway man working so mutch distance form his home how can posibel he is retrun is home if compare to bank emply are anouther emply very poor burst condion the fild job railway emply but what is the true railway pass benifit only taken by DRM office staff and officers because another person not geting proper leve ofter reterment is life maximum live to 2 to3 year and when he is come to elderly eadge he have a no might he can go to anywhere

  24. S Kakati says

    Indian Railway has reached today in a financially very strong position because of it’s all employees’ hard & devotional work. It’s giving a large amount revenue to the Govt. after the Railway is paying a huge amount ‘unreasonably’ against free passes. That’s the big thing. The system is in vouge since past, if it is tried to withdraw this then stong Railway unions will’t witness it.Resulting – strike ,agitation, demonostrations etc will be started at once. Resulting- collapsement of this Indias no 1 proffit making system.

  25. Dharmendra says

    Dear sir,
    kindly write one more article on why an mp getting Lifetime free traveling in railway and lifetime pension no matter whether he is mp for a day only on the other hand any railway employee will not get any pension whether he is going to serve railway for 42 years of his life from 18 years to 60 years and on the matter of 4 free passes to railways most of the employees will be happy getting LTA.Kindly get some info on the working conditions too where drivers are forced to stay away 96 hrs from home

  26. [email protected] says

    GUNTUR. Cell no 9440613786

    Honourable Minister for Railways
    Dear MADAM sub;- privilege pass to the staff in railways as well as re
    tired Rly employees -eligibility for dependent sons
    up to 25 years of age.
    WITH GREAT REGARDS we are the retired railway employees and Senior citizens of India put fore the following few lines for your kind consideration .
    madam ji in the year 1986 pass rules made by the Indian railway at that previous days in passes family includes son age up to 21 years and wholly dependent on the employee. Now a days a son has to study Eng and other MBA & Computer courses. due to present situation of their livelihood..No doubt they will get student passes during their study in a recognized institutes but due to limited seats ,some of they studying in private institutes the institutes not recognized by the Govt but affiliated to other universities. when a son studied B TECH MEANS HIS AGE IS 22 YEARS he is not eligibiI in pass, and he con get job after completion of studies he cannot get job ,unless job he is depending on the parents only. at least after completion of his studies a minimum 3 years a privilege pas may be issued means he attend interviews at present how you know unemployment problem and financial difficulty. you will no pretty well you are in the hearts of poor and caman man men in this regard a recent Election results proved
    in INDIAN RAILWAY 13 laksh of working employees and nearly 11 lakhs retired Rly employees waiting for a valid decesion from you

  27. Aseem Rastogi says

    Railways and Air India are in a similar position in giving free passes…I have always felt distressed seeing this habit of giving free passes…a complete waste of taxpayers money…Air India was always milked by our leaders in this way as all their family members travelled free too…probably in the case of railways an LTA would be a much better option!

    1. Viral says

      Agreed Aseem… the menace is not just limited to Railways, but a number of governmental organizations which savour similar utilities for free. The ground policies need to be tweaked and the same has to overcome labour/union unrests.

      Thanks for your valuable comment.

      1. VKML Rao says

        There is always a way one can find to end such paradigms.
        In case of free passes to Railway employees, an option of yearly-cash-payments in lieu of free passes, can work wonders without interruption of Unions. Those employees, who opt for yearly-cash-payments in lieu of free passes naturally ends up in getting free passes. Next, all new appointees should be shifted to LTA.

  28. Raj says

    Indians by default have got accustomed to freebies, be it the free tea to the house maid or the occasional “expected” tip to the local cleaners, watchmen etc. We Indians will always find ways to get something extra than what we are entitled to and will never leave the free beenfits be it free passes, or the local policeman having the free tea at corner shop, or the Armed forces officers using Jawans to take their dogs for a walk or the businessmen showing personal expenses as ” business expense”. I am sure even if LTA is provided it will be misused in some other way(remember the fake rent receipt article of yours, how difficult it would be to fake railways tickets?). Every one is here for the benefit of self; railways unions are strong, very strong considering the lakhs of votes they command, one reason for Congress coming to power was squarely 6th Pay Commission. What is required is a self introspection by each of us rather then policies and rules being imposed externally and people finding ways to tweak them.


  29. navin kohli says

    there is no harm in giving facilities of free passes to rly employee. every organisation has right to make their employee happy if is a profit making organisation. no one comments when some employee gets lakhs of rupees as annual incentive apart from their regular salary. so for good employee – emloyer relation and job satisfaction emloyer has right to satisfy his emloyee by giving various such facilities.

  30. Mandar Shinde says

    I don’t see free passes to Railway employees too unfair. After all, traveling is a part of their job. Regarding the comparison between grocery/jewelery shop employees and Railway employees, misleading parameters are considered in above post. Are the Railway employees buying trains at discounted price or for free? Are Railway employees changing Express Routes to cover their neighborhood? If yes, then grocery shop employees will also get free grocery and jewelery shop employees free gold coins!

    Now, consider this – Why is a software engineer allowed to access his/her personal e-mail/accounts from office computer? Why is a project manager allowed to receive personal e-mails on his/her official e-mail address? Why are IT employees allowed to make personal calls from their office phones or mobiles? Doesn’t that look like ‘Free Passes’ wrapped inside a more sophisticated cover? Anyway, they are not going to get their company products for free. But what about other resources being generously used (or misused)?

    There seems to be a recent wave of questions and doubts about Government operations and policies. Why don’t we accept our role as stakeholders in Government enterprises? Once accepted, think about this – Have you ever heard of a stakeholder of an IT company, questioning why a Blackberry phone was issued to company’s assistant manager for free? Or questioning why the VP stayed at an expensive 5-star while cheaper accommodations were available nearby? Never heard, right? Instead, he/she would be concerned about the company’s growth and profits. When will we start thinking of Government enterprises’ growth and profits, instead of doubting and pinpointing?

    1. Viral says

      Hey Mandar… You’ve very nicely put forth your point. Not often do we come across a critical review with such mild language. Thanks for the same.

      After reading your comment, I partially agree with your views. This throws light on one more aspect of discussion: Free passes should be allowed during duty or working hours but not otherwise which would account as personal use.

      Probably, in case of personal travelling expenses, LTA should better serve as remuneration granted to employees by the employer to provide for personal travel expenses incurred during the year. In fact, LTA would also cover travelling expenses of spouse, children as well as dependent parents and siblings.

      1. susheel katariya says

        i m not fully satisfied with the view that the free passes should not be given to Rly staff. As far as i know, 90% of railway staff r drivers , guards, gangmens. keymans , gatemens, SSEs, JEs, station masters, shunters, signal mainteners etc which comes under safety category and r working under very critical conditions. away from thr families for days. working in polluted n noisy atmosphere. Have u ever compared 55 year railway person with 60 yrs old retired employee from some other central govt deptt ,,,, u will find that railway person will appear much older than a 60 yr old persons. This is bcoz of nature of work and the pressure involved.This all i know bcoz being an account assistant working in zonal railway office , i can understand to some extent their nature of job profile but do u think other people have any idea abt the work profile of rail persons. I agree that 10 % rail persons from Divisions/zonal offices r enjoying passes but hw can one blame 90% category

    2. Trackman in n.rly Gurmohan singh billa says

      Most regret ,sir u are absolutely 100% correct on passes matter.why the people not thinks that a supretendent of punjab roadways have rite of free traveling with familiy nd abcaus on during travel journey he nd his family treats like malik with free of costs lunch dinner nd aswell as free of cost stay in luxury hotel nd when he ordered the bus stopped at any area any time nd at any traffic similars other things like that are much more u already mentioned it in ur comment a police officer that uses blue light car for traveling on duty and as for personel works etc ,a income tax dept. Workers never paid tax on things which they bought from market ,army jawan nd officer have their special rack nd boggie in last or in front of all express trains for their rite to journey,air force gave free air travel to employe with family a tour of all world anually its also their rite there too much more things same like that etc SO WHY THE DISCUSTIONS AND MEETS ARE ON RAILWAY EMPLOYES FREE T.PASSES ?DEAR SIR ITS NOT FREE ITS THE COST OF WORK WHICH ALL WORKERS DOINING IN 50* OF TEMP IN RAIN ND IN WINTERS ND ALL OTHER WORKS BY OFFICERS FOR NOT THEIR OWN PERSONEL WORKS ONLY FOR OTHERs ND FOR INDIA ND FOR GOVERNMENT SO WHY THEY HAVE NO RITE FOR FREE PASSES? Nd one more thing a d group employe whose basic s is 7000 nd he works in punjab its home town is in mp so if he travel nd journey to his home by rail or bus its traveling cost of 1-ac is almost 5000rs approx of one meet to family then if he travels two or three times in year then how much rupees becomes for his daily needs etc nd for family he bought ate nd profit of nothing nd almost he takes money on interest nd he become a servent of financer right sir plz give me nd tells me answer of that?

  31. Mohit says

    Isn’t the same true for Air India employees?? (and their families of course:-))

    1. Viral says

      @Mohit… Perfectly, agreed with you!

      I am not sure as to which all job profiles enjoy such (undue) benefits. But, definitely, as I have mentioned in the concluding paragraph: “this base issue applies in many other portfolios of our daily life – and not just limited to Indian Railways. The same should be enforced in other departments too.”

      This article is not just targted against a specific group of employees – how can my views be biased against Railway employees only? It should be reviewed from all angles and employee groups.

  32. Varun Jindal says

    I don’t know really if the concept of giving life-time free passes to the railway employees is justified. However, my opinion is very much in line with that of yours that giving them an option of LTA, instead of a life-time free pass, will be beneficial to both the railways as well as the general public. And in that case, railway employees can be given a preference for booking their berths over-riding other priorities.

    1. Viral says

      Agreed Varun… My opinion is not against the compensation to the Railway employees, but disemminating it through inappropriate channels.

      Concessions to employees is a different issue and cannot be compared to discripancies, which is totally a form of different stand altogether.

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