Bus or train? The world’s first “dual-mode vehicle” goes into operation in Japan

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It’s a bus, it’s a train, it’s a DMV! The world’s first dual-mode vehicle that is equally at home on road and rail will celebrate its public premiere on Saturday in the city of Kaiyo in the Japanese prefecture of Tokushima.

The DMV looks like a minibus and drives on the road on normal rubber tires. But when they arrive at a junction, steel wheels move out of the vehicle’s substructure and onto the rails, transforming it into a railroad car, so to speak.

The train’s wheels lift the front tires off the rail while the rear wheels stay down to drive the DMV onto the rail.

The CEO of the Asa Coast Railway, which operates the DMVs, said the vehicles could help small towns like Kaiyo with an aging and shrinking population, where local transportation companies are struggling to make a profit.

“This (DMV) can reach the locals (as a bus) and also take them to the train,” CEO Shigeki Miura told Reuters on Friday. “Especially in rural areas with an aging population, we expect very good local public transport.”

The DMV can carry up to 21 passengers and travels at speeds of 60 km / h (37 mph) on rails and can travel up to 100 km / h (62 mph) on public roads, the Asa Coast Railway said.

Powered by diesel fuel, the small fleet of vehicles, which are available in different colors, will drive along part of the coast of Shikoku Island in southern Japan, connecting several small towns and offering passengers an attractive coastal landscape.

Miura said he hoped the project would inspire railroad fans from all over Japan to visit.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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