A dual-mode vehicle that can run both on roads and railways has officially come into operation in the town of Kaiyo in Tokushima, Japan. This is not the world’s first dual-mode vehicle but is the first vehicle of its kind to come into use.
The special vehicle looks like a minibus and runs on normal rubber tyres on the road. But when it arrives at an interchange, steel wheels descend from the vehicle’s underbelly onto the rail track, effectively turning it into a train carriage. The train wheels lift the front tyres off the track, while the rear wheels stay down to propel the dual-mode vehicle onto the railway.
It can carry up to 21 passengers and runs at a speed of 60km/h on rail tracks and can reach around 100km/h on public roads. Powered by diesel fuel, the small fleet of vehicles in different colors will run along part of the coast of Shikoku island in southern Japan, connecting several small towns and offering passengers a beautiful seaside view.
Shigeki Miura, CEO of Asa Coast Railway company, which operates the al-mode vehicles, told Reuters: “Especially in rural areas with an aging population, we expect it to be a very good form of public transport.” He added that he hoped the project would encourage railway fans from around Japan to visit.