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ICYMI: A new bus which can turn itself into a train has just started operating in Japan!

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Huawei
A dual-mode vehicle or DMV has begun service on the Japanese island of Shikoku.
ICYMI: A new bus which can turn itself into a train has just started operating in Japan!
Can run both on railways and ordinary roads

Bus-train mash-up to boost local tourism?

This new vehicle is allegedly equally at home on road and rail. On the outside, it appears like a minibus but it runs on runs on normal rubber tires on the road.
Steel wheels are hidden in the vehicle's underbelly when not in use
Steel wheels are hidden in the vehicle's underbelly when not in use
 
However, when it arrives at an interchange, steel wheels descend from the vehicle's underbelly onto the rail track, thus turning it into a train carriage. Meanwhile, the train wheels lift the front tires off the track whereas the rear wheels stay down to propel the DMV onto the railway.

This DMV is run by the public-private partnership Asa Coast Railway. It was first spotted during its test run in Kaiyo Town, Tokushima Prefecture in Japan. Now, the so-called dual-mode vehicle connects a 15 km seaside path spanning Tokushima and Kochi prefectures.

According to the CEO of Asa Coast Railway Shigeki Miura, the vehicles could help small towns like Kaiyo with an aging and shrinking population, where local transport companies struggle to make a profit. He explained in an interview,

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.

Allegedly, the DMV can carry up to 21 passengers and runs at a speed of 60km/h (37 mph) on rail tracks, and can go as fast as around 100km/h (62 mph) on public roads. 

It is fueled by diesel and will un along part of the coast of Shikoku island in southern Japan, connecting several small towns and offering passengers attractive seaside scenery.

Online reservations are necessary, and the one-way adult fare is 800 yen from the first stop to the last stop.

On weekends and holidays, the DMV will take longer special trips, all the way to Muroto, Kochi Prefecture so the 50 km ride will cost 2,400 yen.

Miura said he hoped the project would encourage railway fans from around Japan to visit.

What do you think?

Source: Nikkei Asia
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