A new model of a vehicle that can run on both railway tracks and ordinary roads has been unveiled to the media in Sapporo, northern Japan.
The so-called Dual Mode Vehicle was developed by the Hokkaido Railway Company in cooperation with an automaker and shown in its factory on Monday.
The vehicle, based on a microbus, runs on 4 automobile wheels on ordinary roads. On railway tracks, it switches to wheels that can operate on rails. The company says the changeover requires only 10 seconds.
The vehicle can transport as many as 29 passengers, almost double the capacity of a previous model. To carry even more people, 3 cars can be connected.
Production costs of the vehicle are less than 25 percent of an ordinary train car. The company says it will conduct tests for use in cold areas and wants to put the vehicle into practical use by March 2012.