Road cars that can transition onto train tracks are nothing new. Called road-rail vehicles, they are commonly used by railway operators to shunt rolling stock around main lines and marshalling yards. One of the most common platforms for these workhorses is the Mercedes-Benz Unimog, the two-speed transfer case of which provides enough torque to pull heavy trains.
A transport company in Japan has taken the same idea and adapted it for passenger use. Called the “Dual Mode Vehicle” it is operated by the Asa Coast Railway Company based in Tokushima Prefecture. Judging by the light clusters, the DMV appears to be based on the Toyota Coaster.
An extended nose grafted onto the vehicle contains a retractable axle for the front rail wheels. Another such component is located at the back. Once the DMV reaches train tracks, both assemblies extend, lifting the front rubber tires clear of the rails. The vehicle moves along using its diesel engine that provides power to the dually-type rear rubber tires.
In an interview with Reuters, the CEO of Asa Coast Railway Company said that the DMV operates at 60km/h on rails and 100km/h on the road. It will help the aging population of the prefecture move around more efficiently by allowing passengers to transfer to train lines seamlessly.