Calling on payphones in MTR stations will soon become history as the rail operator will start phasing out station payphones next month, with some calling the move as signifying the end of an era. Notices have been posted near payphones across all of MTR’s 87 stations, reading: “As advised by Shinetown Telecom they will be removing all station payphones as their contract with MTR is expiring.” An MTR Corporation spokesman said the Hong Kong-based carrier had indicated it did not intend to continue service after its contract expires this Thursday. READ MORE: MTR adds eight-car trains to Hong Kong’s West Rail Line “We have since been contacting other suppliers, but so far no supplier has indicated any interest,” the spokesman said. This meant some 390 station payphones will be dismantled starting month, with the MTR expecting the removal works to be completed by the end of the first quarter next year. Shinetown Telecom is the largest private payphone operator in Hong Kong, according to its website. Since 2003, it has installed payphones in all of Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation’s West Rail stations, before gradually extending service to cover the entire East Rail Line and Ma On Shan Line in 2004. By 2009, its payphones spanned the entire rail network. The Labour Party’s community officer Chiu Yan-loy, who spotted the removal notice at Tsuen Wan Station, said on Facebook that the termination of payphone services marked “the end of an era”. Facebook user Mina Chan responded: “Actually, tourists might sometimes need them. Since some of them might not have a Hong Kong SIM card, they would have to rely on these payphones to communicate.” READ MORE: One in 10 Hong Kong smartphone ‘zombies’ have dropped their precious devices in the toilet Another user Emily Owen posted: “It’s a pity. If one forgets to bring a mobile phone, [he or she] would have lost contact.” The Office of the Communications Authority reported in March that there were 1,632 public payphone kiosks – within and outside of MTR stations – across Hong Kong, down from about 1,920 in 2000. Meanwhile, there were 17.1 million mobile service subscribers in the city as of December 2013, representing one of the highest penetration rates in the world.