The World's First Ever Bus and Train Combo Concept Takes Off in Japan

The new vehicle will be able to reach isolated areas where it is needed most.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The photo credit line may appear like thisAsa Coast Railway

If only you could merge a bus with a train. Oh! The places you would go. Now, the world's first-ever dual-mode vehicle was introduced on Saturday in the town of Kaiyo in Tokushima Prefecture in Japan, according to the Japan Times. In addition, to attracting tourism, the vehicle will help ferry parts of the population that are in hard-to-reach areas.

The project was a long time coming. "It took as long as about 10 years to launch (the DMV service). I'm full of emotion," said Kaiyo Mayor Shigeki Miura, who is also the president of Asa Coast Railway, the company responsible for engineering the DMV vehicle. 

How does the new vehicle work? It functions with normal rubber tires on the road but uses steel wheels to navigate railways. These wheels descend from the vehicle's underbelly whenever it is time to hit a train track. The whole transformation from car to train only takes a mere 15 seconds.

The bus/train combo can accommodate up to 21 passengers and reach speeds of 60 kph (37 mph) on rail and 100 kph on roads. It is propelled by diesel power.

"This (DMV) can reach the locals (as a bus), and carry them onto the railway as well," Asa Coast Railway company CEO Shigeki Miura told Reuters. "Especially in rural areas with an aging population, we expect it to be a very good form of public transport."

The vehicles come in a variety of colors and are set to service the coast of Shikoku island in southern Japan. In addition, to connecting isolated areas, the DMVs will provide beautiful sceneries for passengers to take in and enjoy.

The vehicle serves as a perfect example of what the future of trains could be and may soon see adoption in other parts of the world if this model goes well.

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