The monotony of the wait at a railway station could once be broken for a rupee. Not any more, it seems, as weighing scales that dotted the city’s railway stations are in the process of being removed.
As many as 44 weighing machines at the Central Railway Station and Moore Market Complex have already been removed from the premises. The weighing scales in Egmore station, too, are on their way out. The ‘standing weighing scales’ — operated with one rupee coins — were maintained by a private contractor, but the agreement expired about two years ago, according to Southern Railway officials.
“We are in the process of removing the last few machines. Maintenance was a problem, and I don’t think the contractor made enough profit to sustain the venture,” said a senior official with Southern Railway.
The weighing scales were integral to the ambience of the city’s railway stations. For many, stepping on to the machine and waiting for that tiny brown card to be spat out with their weight and the day’s fortune was a favourite pastime at the station. The tiny red and white wheel would rotate, adding a tinge of drama to the wait for the verdict on one’s fitness. Some of the machines even had little bulbs glowing in primary colours, as if to flag ‘you better watch your weight’ alerts.
Though a hit among passengers, Southern Railway does not seem to be considering renewing the contract, say senior officials. The company that was operating the machines is based in Kolkata and had a profit-sharing arrangement with Southern Railway.
“The company may not have found it commercially viable, so the weighing machines had to go. Even the few representatives of the company here have left the city,” said an official.