The Central Telegraph Office operated by BSNL Chennai Telephones at the Central railway station here has been shut down after the telecom operator’s request for a rental rebate was turned down by the Railway authorities.

BSNL was the first telecom operator to set up a public call facility as a passenger convenience feature at Central station.

The closure of the CTO follows several rounds of failed negotiations Chennai Telephones officials had with their Railway counterparts seeking a concession in rent. The basic disagreement was over whether the CTO was a public utility or a profit centre.

The Railways had pegged the rental at the commercial rate of Rs.58 per sq ft for the roughly 650-sq ft premises. Chennai Telephones sought rental rebate considering that the telegraph and public call office was a convenience feature for the travelling public.

“Maintaining the CTO on the rates proposed by the Railways was unviable and the only option was to shut shop,” a Chennai Telephones official said.

The hint that the Railways was preparing to drive a hard bargain had become clear as early as in March when officials confiscated six new high-tech public call gizmos installed by BSNL at the station premises.

According to a BSNL official, the CTO is in the process of being dismantled.

The staff had been issued relieving orders and would be redeployed to other BSNL units.