A railway firm in western Japan has begun commercial operation of Dual-Mode Vehicles (DMVs), which can go on both tracks and roadways.
On Saturday, the minibus-modified hybrid transporter began travelling across rural regions in Kaiyo Town, Tokushima Prefecture, Japan.
The DMV is fitted with regular rubber tyres for use on the road. However, when it comes to an interchange, steel wheels drop from the vehicle’s base, converting it into a train carriage. The train wheels lift the DMV’s frontal tires off the track while keeping the back wheels on the track, pushing it across the railway.
“This (DMV) can reach the locals (as a bus) and carry them onto the railway as well,” CEO Shigeki Miura said in a statement.
“Especially in rural areas with an ageing population, we expect it to be a very good form of public transport.”
The first DMV bus left a station in southern Tokushima Prefecture at noon on Saturday. The van had a total of 18 passengers on board. Unfortunately, its capacity has been reduced as a result of the coronavirus. So when it arrived at a station, it dropped its wheels onto the track and changed into a train. It then made its way to Kochi Prefecture’s eastern region, where it was discovered.
The DMVs are run by Asa Coast Railway Company, a small public-private partnership. DMVs will travel around part of Shikoku Island’s coast in southern Japan, connecting various tiny towns and providing passengers with beautiful coastal scenery. The company plans to turn the service into a significant local tourism attraction by utilising the currently unprofitable train route.