Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid’s brief tenure in his position during the new Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government has been characterized by bombast and bluster. While the federal government as a whole made astronomical promises to the people and failed to deliver when it realised the practicality of their office - the Railways Minister continued to outshine previously made tall claims with taller ones.

Be it the claim that the M-1 line – a project under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – had been re-negotiated to be completed at a lower cost, to the bewilderment of all stakeholders, to claiming his department has the capability to even launch a missile, the Railways Minister has never been one to bridle his imagination. However, such lofty ambitions result in real tangible harm if they are not tempered by hard facts and common sense. It seems that in the haste to deliver during the “first 100 days” milestone of the new government the Minister may have taken several economically unfeasible decisions.

The Pakistan Railways on Friday informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Railways that six of the 10 newly-launched passenger trains were running in losses – all launched in the 100 day window. For a state owned enterprise that is bleeding the federal budget, adding to the deficit for marginal gains is cardinal sin. That the gains are more political than practical makes this even worse.

This is not all; it seems that the Minister has forgone the standard procedure of maintaining 15 per cent of coaches in reserve in case of emergencies to launch his new passenger trains. Currently there is not a single coach in reserve.

The demand by the former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, who is a member of the standing committee, that the feasibility reports of the news trains be presented before the committee is a valid one. We need to know if this new imitative made real economic sense or was it done simply for political grandstanding.