FARIDPUR, Bangladesh, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Kaushik Ahmed Shubo was brimming with joy when the first train traveled on a newly-constructed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) railway line on Bangladesh's largest Chinese-built Padma Bridge.
"Today marks a milestone," Shubo, a local undergraduate student, told Xinhua as he took the train on April 4.
The test run of train was conducted by the Bangladesh railway authorities on one of the rail link project's three sections from Bhanga to Mawa in the central Faridpur district.
It is one of the most significant projects under construction by the China Railway Group Limited (CREC) and funded by the Export-Import Bank of China.
Hundreds of people from Faridpur and surrounding districts, like Shubo, witnessed the landmark event.
"I feel very proud as a Bangladeshi citizen to witness the journey on the rail link," Shubo said, adding that the Padma Bridge railway connection will play a very important role in the Bangladeshi education system for students.
He said the implementation of the railway under the BRI, with the overall cooperation of China, has strengthened the friendly relationship between Bangladesh and China.
"It is a matter of pride for the people of Bangladesh," Shubo stressed.
The history of crossing the mighty Padma River between dozens of districts in southern Bangladesh and the capital of Dhaka only by ferries or boats ended in June last year, as the bridge was opened to traffic.
Now, the lower deck of the double-decked Padma Bridge has started to carry passenger trains. It took 16 minutes for the trial train to cross the 6.15-km bridge at a very low speed of around 20 km per hour.
CREC workers welcomed the train by waving mini-flags of Bangladesh and China and setting off fireworks as the train was passing a station near the Padma Bridge.
The special train carried Bangladeshi Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, senior officials, lawmakers, politicians and journalists, among others.
Sujan, who flagged off the trial run, said the CREC worked very hard to maintain the quality of trial run. "I would like to thank the CREC on behalf of the government and country's residents. Hopefully they will work more with us in the future."
"This Padma Bridge is not only the bridge of our dreams but also our economic emancipation," said Mujibur Rahman Chowdhury, known locally as Nixon Chowdhury.
The parliamentary member from Faridpur added that the Padma Bridge rail link has been launched to improve southern Bangladesh districts both economically and socially.
"Today seems very unbelievable and like a fairy tale in which we will travel by train," local businessman Aladita Khan Shanto said. "I cannot express in words how much it will help us, thank you China."
Hu Guangming, CFO from the CREC's project management office of the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project (PBRLP), said it is a priority project for Bangladesh, an important cooperation project between the two countries, and also the key construction project for the BRI.
"The trial run today is a significant milestone for the Padma Bridge Rail Link Project," he said.
The Padma Bridge is located about 40 km southwest of Dhaka. The full length of the Padma Bridge rail link is 172 km and the railway, which started to be constructed in July 2018, is scheduled to be completed in 2024. ■