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A dual-mode vehicle (DMV) that looks like a minibus and runs
both on conventional railway tracks and paved roads was
tested on the Gakunan railway in Fuji city (Shizuoka prefecture)
on the night of November 24.
The 28-passenger test vehicle was developed by the Hokkaido
Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) in a project that began in 2000.
Technicians aboard the DMV evaluated the safety and ride
quality during the series of tests on rail and road.
After the 3-km railway portion of the test course, the vehicle
stopped at a railroad crossing, retracted the railroad wheels and
switched to street mode in a mere 10 seconds.
A number of local governments around Japan have shown
interest in introducing DMVs because they are inexpensive to
manufacture and run.
In addition, DMVs conveniently allow passengers to travel from
train stations to their final destinations without having to transfer
vehicles. DMVs appear to be particularly attractive in rural areas
with limited public transportation because they allow railways to
offer more versatile and efficient services.