DHAKA (Xinhua) -- A mega railway via the China-built Bangladesh's largest Padma Bridge is all set for inauguration next month, local media reported.
With the Chinese-made passenger coaches, the Bangladeshi government on Thursday launched the first train on a major part of the newly-constructed mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) rail line through Padma Bridge.
The 172-km railway over the bridge 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.
The BRI, a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was initiated by China in 2013 to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Ahead of the grand opening, Bangladesh Railway conducted the trial run on the newly-built rail tracks from Dhaka's central Kamalapur Railway Station.
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 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would inaugurate train service on the Dhaka-Bhanga route on Oct. 10.
CREC workers welcomed the train waving mini-flags of Bangladesh and China and setting off fireworks when the train was passing a station near the Padma Bridge.
Thousands of people gathered on both sides of the rail line while it entered the lower deck of the double-decked Padma Bridge, which carries a highway on the top deck.
The 6.15-km Padma Bridge is located about 40 km southwest of Dhaka. The largest of its kind in Bangladesh, the bridge was built by the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group.
The full length of the Padma Bridge rail link, which will lead up to Jashore in the southwestern region of Bangladesh, is 172 km and the railway is scheduled to be completed in 2024.
Director General of Bangladesh Railway Md Kamrul Ahsan said they conducted the trial run using new coaches imported from China.
One hundred new coaches, with a designed speed of 120 km per hour, have been procured from CRRC Tangshan Co.
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.
Both the bridge and the railway, which is a vital part of the trans-Asian railway network, are expected to greatly promote regional connectivity and the economic development of Bangladesh.