Bus or train? Dual-mode vehicle that runs on wheels and tracks to debut in Japan
The world's first dual-mode vehicle (DMV) is all set to make its public debut today in Japan. The DMV, which can run on wheels as well as on tracks with equal ease, has been developed and tested by the Asa Seaside Railway Corp in Japan's Tokushima Prefecture.
The vehicle is a modified version of a regular minibus with a seating capacity of up to 23 passengers.
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At the press of a button, the vehicle can switch between its bus-mode and train-mode. A pair of wheels for train tracks emerge from under of the vehicle in about 15 seconds, and turns it into a small rail coach which is capable of running on train tracks with ease.
Powered by diesel, these dual-mode vehicles can carry up to 21 passengers each and run at a speed of 60 kmph on rail tracks and can go as fast as around 100 kmph on public roads. On the railway tracks, the dual-mode vehicle can ran on six wheels, including two rubber tires at the rear and two pairs of iron wheels. It also claims to save fuel by up to 75 percent besides reducing other maintenance costs.
Shigeki Miura, CEO at Asa Seaside Railway Corp, was quoted by news agency Reuters saying, "This (DMV) can reach the locals (as a bus), and carry them onto the railway as well. Especially in rural areas with an ageing population, we expect it to be a very good form of public transport."
These dual-mode vehicles will run along part of the coast of Shikoku island in southern Japan connecting several small towns. The vehicle is being developed to encourage tourism in the area as well as help local residents to travel without having to switch between buses and trains.
The dual-mode vehicle was tested on the line between Awa-Kainan station and Kaifu station for the first time in December last year. The dual-mode vehicle (DMV) that can drive both on roads and move along the tracks is planned to be included on the ASA Seaside Railway.