Introduction of new train services, setting up of a sports academy, speeding up of gauge conversion projects and expansion of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) located here are the major announcements relating to Tamil Nadu in the 2010-11 railway budget presented by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday.

The Minister also announced taking up of preliminary engineering-cum-traffic survey this year for dedicated freight corridor connecting Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu (North-South freight corridor) and South-South (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Goa).

In addition, Ms. Banerjee has included Tamil Nadu for building some socially desirable projects which needs the Planning Commission’s sanction.

As regards the new trains, Ms. Banerjee has sanctioned one Duronto, five long distance and three passenger trains. In addition, eight Bharat Teerth trains will connect important tourist places in Tamil Nadu.

According to Ms. Banerjee, the upsurge in the economy has resulted in “an unprecedented growth of passenger traffic during the last five years resulting in increased requirement of passenger coaches”.

“While other goods and commodities are readily available in the market, coaches and wagons are not available off the shelf. Our manufacturing capacity is less and we have to plan years in advance,” she said.

While steps are being taken to set up new coach factories at Rae Bareilly, Kanchrapara and Palakkad, Banerjee said the existing plant of ICF near here will be modernised while a new one will be set up.

Currently ICF has a capacity to roll out 1,500 coaches per year.

Suburban railway services in Chennai got a boost in the budget with the announcement of new services between Chennai Central-Sullurpeta-Chennai Beach, Chennai Beach-Velachery-Chennai Beach (on the MRTS), Chennai Beach-Tiruttani-Chennai Central, Chennai Central-Arakkonam-Chennai Central.

Work on the extension of MRTS Phase II from Velachary to St. Thomas Mount is in progress and targeted for completion by March 2012.

Mainline Electric Multiple Units (MEMU) service will be introduced Tirupati-Nellore-Chennai, Salem-Katpadi and Coimbatore-Erode.

Ms. Banerjee also announced construction of multifunctional complexes at Erode, Nagercoil, Salem, Trichy and Tiruttani.

On healthcare, outpatient treatment centres will be set up at Katpadi, Karur, Kumbakonam, Rameswaram, Trichy, Tirunelvelli, Villupuram and Virudhunagar and a secondary level general speciality hospital will be built in Trichy, the Minister said.

While survey for a new Krishnagiri-Chamrajnagar line will be taken up this year, Ms. Banerjee said the new Nagapattinam-Vellankani and Salem-Namakkal lines will be completed soon.