The Pakistan Railways has already suspended its freight services, and has had a cheque for Rs 700 million issued to the Pakistan State Oil bounce. Railways is grinding to a halt because of a lack of fuel, even though as the money was meant to pay for fuel, it was supposed to go for an essential to its operations. Left with only a passenger service, the Railways was on the verge of shutting down, just as it was shown just why such an essential service had reached such a stage. The Supreme Court has sought a reply from three retired generals, who had been railways minister or railways secretary at the time, to explain the cheap lease of Railways land in the heart of Lahore. At the same time as this, the GM of Pakistan Railways has told the National Assemblys Standing Committee on Railways that the passenger fares, which have not been increased since 2008, are to be raised 10 to 30 percent. He also told the Committee that 5,000 staff would be removed in the current financial year, and another 500 in the next, 2011-12. These members of the staff would be split evenly between temporary and permanent staff. This combination of fare increases and staff cuts is not the way seen for Railways to overcome the crisis, but a handout from the federal government of Rs 11.5 billion is. The committees recommendation that the federal government give the package should be taken as an acknowledgement of the vital role of the Railways in national life, but should not be taken as support for free spending ways or mismanagement. The Ministry has been given in the current coalition to the ANP, and its nominee, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, has apparently not made any serious attempt at bringing to an end the mismanagement which has sunk the Railways. All that the Railways need to be competitive is proper management, something which Mr Bilour seems determined not to give the Railways. Reducing fares and sacking staff will not improve matters in the long term, though they may lend an immediate glamour to the balance sheet. Railway fares may be raised, but it must be remembered that the expected raises are too much to bear for consumers, who have preferred to turn to road transport for both goods and people, despite the greater expense, because of greater speed. Time is money, something that should be written on the hearts of all Railways personnel, but particularly the Minister, who should remember he is there to turn a losing enterprise into the profitable one it should be.