A new train by the name of Pakistan Business Express has started on Lahore-Karachi route on Monday. The event marking the launch of the train service was attended by Prime Minister Gilani. The train’s interior is luxurious and its daily departure time for Karachi is 3:00 pm. Mr Gilani said on the occasion that more trains with the help of public-private partnership would be introduced.

The total cost of the project is Rs 225 million, which has materialised with the help of a public-private partnership. While this might not be a bad idea, the government ought also to invest the money to restore the existing trains that have been discontinued because of the current Railway’s Minister’s mishandling of his portfolio at virtually every level. Fares of the business express, will not be within easy reach of the poor man. It is only through other mainstream trains that the general public will have a cheaper source of travel.

However what is clear is that the process will most likely fail because of Federal Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour’s unsatisfactory performance, as evidenced by the paralysis of Pakistan Railways. The Railways during his tenure has deliberately been made to suffer in order to promote the interests of the transport mafia, plying buses on intra-city routes. If these new trains are left under his supervision, there is reason to assume that it will not be long before these too will suffer the fate of other trains rotting away in the junkyard. Therefore, it stands to reason that a more capable and upright person is needed to see to it that the Railways is run professionally and free of corruption. It is surprising that he has complained to the Prime Minister that since the promised amount of Rs 11 billion could not be issued to the Ministry for repair and maintenance work of 100 engines could not be started. Given how he made a mess of the Railways, it is not hard to assume that this amount too would have also gone to waste. Railways is normally a state-controlled entity but experimenting with the public-private system seems a good option at the moment. But the trains that we already have must be simultaneously made functional. Most importantly it is the need of the hour to plug loopholes for corruption in the system, both at higher and lower carders of the department.