Why are weighing machines installed on the platforms of Indian railways?
The weighing machines we see in the Railway stations of India can be traced back to 1950s, during the early Independence period.
These machines were a business for its manufacturers – Eastern Scale Pvt Ltd and Northern Scale Pvt Ltd. These companies produced various kinds of weighing scales including the type found in the railway stations.
How this business worked was – The Railway stations provided the area or space for these machines while the companies saw profit from it with people using these machines to check their weights. Since in earlier times, not every household had a weighing machine, this was one of the few options available to check one’s weight, and hence a good business for the companies. The Railways got 40% of the total collection while the companies took the rest 60%.
A simple revenue sharing agreement between the Railways and the companies! The people maintaining the machines were even given free passes to travel on trains. The machines used to be opened every 15 days, and the money would be collected under the supervision of the station master and a person from the machine company. Each machine is a massive 225 kilograms to prevent them from being stolen.
But they haven’t been very profitable in recent times. In 2013, a Western Railway official quoted that while collections from the machines amounted to Rs 26 lakh in 2001, and Rs 19 lakh in 2010, they plummeted to Rs. 1.71 lakh in 2012 and stand at barely Rs. 26,000 to date in July, 2013.