Transport

World-first road/rail-traveling bus to enter use on Christmas Day

World-first road/rail-travelin...
The DMV bus is claimed to be able to switch between road and rail modes within 15 seconds
The DMV bus is claimed to be able to switch between road and rail modes within 15 seconds
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The DMV bus is claimed to be able to switch between road and rail modes within 15 seconds
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The DMV bus is claimed to be able to switch between road and rail modes within 15 seconds
Three of the DMV buses will run the route
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Three of the DMV buses will run the route

Why bother transferring between a bus and a train, if you could just stay in one vehicle that travels on both roads and tracks? That's the thinking behind a new dual-mode vehicle (DMV), which is slated to begin operations in Japan on December 25.

In development since 2002, the DMV system is now being run by Japan's Asa Coast Railway company. It currently incorporates three vehicles, which will travel approximately 123 km (76 miles) between the Awa Kainan Bunka Mura cultural facility in Tokushima prefecture to the Umi no Eki Toromu marina in Kochi prefecture.

Each DMV is a modified diesel-powered bus that can carry 23 passengers (18 seated, four standing) along with the driver. When on the road, it simply moves along on its tires like any other bus. Once it straddles the rails of its DMV-specific track, however, the push of a button causes front and rear sets of steel rail wheels to deploy from its underside.

The vehicle's front tires are lifted entirely clear of the track, while the rear set stay in contact with the rails to provide propulsion. It can then manage a top rail-mode speed of 80 km/h (50 mph), although in practice it will stay at a cruising speed of 60 km/h (37 mph).

Three of the DMV buses will run the route
Three of the DMV buses will run the route

Along its seaside route – which is intended largely to cater to tourists – the DMV will change modes twice. The whole mode-changing process reportedly takes just 15 seconds. For safety reasons, the vehicle won't be utilizing existing rail lines that are currently used by trains.

According to Asa Coast Railway, the DMV's ability to run much of its route on tracks should make it considerably more fuel-efficient and less polluting than traditional buses. It should also require less maintenance, plus it could conceivably help transport people in the event of an earthquake or other disaster, in which either the highways or the rail lines were impassible.

The company additionally claims that the DMV will be the world's first dual-mode bus to enter public use. While this may be true, railroad maintenance trucks have been utilizing the same technology for decades. Additionally, both Unimog and BladeRunner have been developing dual-mode passenger- and cargo-hauling vehicles.

Source: Asa Seaside Railway

6 comments
6 comments
Buk
World first? Hardly https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road%E2%80%93rail_vehicle

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/60/BO-DB293H-I-zoom.jpg/220px-BO-DB293H-I-zoom.jpg
alan c
Nearly twenty years to develop technology which already exists for rail service vehicles? I have a better idea, save the weight cost, complexity and development time and run a bus on tarmac. You could allow other vehicles to use the tarmac... just like roads.
Germano Pecoraro Designer
At university time of mine (20-25 years ago), I also proposed a road-rail bus.
There were train rule problems, because there was incompatibility between trains and buses crash safety.
sally
Certainly British Leyland fielded such a vehicle back in the 60/70s plenty of film of it in operation, not sure if it actually ever was used commercially mind, though it’s coach design associated with that programme are still used without much love, regionally on rail services in some parts of the Country.
ikegami
I realize its not an identical application, but back in the 80's the city of Melbourne (or perhaps Adelaide?) has a public transit system where buses enter a "rail" like mode along certain stretches of the route. The road on these stretches is formed into a slot in which buses travel through. The slot is effectively an inverted mono-rail in which side mounted guide wheels on the buses control their steering inside the slot. So it may not be steel railway tracks per se, but exactly same principle nevertheless. I don't know if this system is still in service.
Aross
Although a bit of an outdated idea, the modern twist should have been electric power. Operated on battery when on the road and wired to the grid with recharge capability when on the rails.