Japan transportations are trying to get “out of the network”. We’ve seen vehicle maker Kawasaki developing a tram running on batteries, according to us, to be able to run in portions not electrically powered. But there’s also the dual-mode vehicle (DMV) developed by the Hokkaido Railway Company since 2000.
The DMV is a ‘hybrid’ minibus. It runs both on conventional paved roads and railway tracks thanks to its extra set of railroad wheels hidden under the chassis. Such vehicles are inexpensive to produce, can easily avoid traffic jams and possible run faster than traditional buses once on the railroad. The only wish we’d like to add is to enable DMVs to use the train electrical system to save some gas.
The Hokkaido Railway Company is expected to start using them by April 2007 along part of the Kushiro line in eastern Hokkaido. A number of local governments around Japan have also expressed some interest in the DMV.