AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa on Wednesday said Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee should be complimented for striking a delicate balance between long-term vision and short-term requirements, without hiking passenger and freight rates in these hard times.

In a statement here, Ms. Jayalalithaa said Ms. Banerjee’s assurance that there would be no privatisation of the Railways was reassuring while her call for private participation in funding railway projects was realistic.

“The slew of new trains, larger outlay for improved passenger amenities and the initiative to set up water bottling plants to ensure availability of cheap drinking water during train journeys are bound to be appreciated by the masses,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said.

From Tamil Nadu’s point of view, Ms Jayalalithaa said, the Railway budget was a mixed bag. “The plan to modernise the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and to launch a second unit are really welcome,” she said adding that the Railway Minister had taken note of the AIADMK’s request with regard to doubling of tracks, better outlay for the MRTS in Chennai, electrification and gauge conversion and included them in her budget presentation.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the announcement that aspirants taking the Railway Service Commission examinations could do so in regional languages as well would be a great boost to the depressed classes.

‘An eyewash’

PMK leader S. Ramadoss said the announcement for new trains for Tamil Nadu was an eyewash since all the new trains would be operated once or twice a week.

“The kind of priority given to Kolkata and Mumbai for providing sub-urban train services was not given to Chennai. Even the MRTS to link Velachery and St Thomas Mount will be taken up only after two years,” he said. He welcomed the announcement to modernise the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and to launch a second unit.