Japan recently unveiled the world’s first Dual-Mode Vehicle (DMV), a contraption that runs both on roads, like a bus, and on rails, like a train.
The unique bus-train hybrid was unveiled last month, in the town of Kaiyo, Japan’s Tokushima Prefecture. The mini-bus-like contraption didn’t win anyone over with its looks, but it definitely made an impression in terms of practicality. It runs with normal rubber tires on the road, but when it needs to switch to train mode, a pair of metal wheels drop down from the vehicle’s underbelly. The front tires are lifted off of the track, while the rear wheels stay down to propel the vehicle. Switching between road and train modes takes only about 15 seconds.
“This DMV can reach the locals as a bus and carry them onto the railway as well,” Shigeki Miura, CEO of Asa Coast Railway, told Reuters. “Especially in rural areas with an aging population, we expect it to be a very good form of public transport.”
The DMV has been in the works for over a decade, and authorities in Tokushima hope that it will not only improve the lives of locals but also attract tourists curious to see the dual-mode vehicles in person.
The dual-mode vehicles, which come in a variety of colors, is diesel-powered, can carry up to 21 passengers and run at a speed of 60 km/h (37mph) in train mode, and up to 100 km/h (60mph) as a bus.
Shigeki Miura declared himself confident that the unique vehicle could help small towns like Kaiyo with an aging and shrinking population, where conventional transportation companies struggle to make money. The unique fleet of vehicles will soon cover part of the coast of Shikoku island, connecting several towns and offering riders breathtaking seaside views.