Reinventing the wheel This amazing Japanese bus…that transforms into a train in just 15 seconds

  • Asa Seaside Railways will operate the DMV bus that connects Shikoku’s Tokushima to Kochi prefectures.
  • To drive on the tracks, the driver activates a ‘mode interchange’ to lower the bus’s rail-friendly steel wheels
  • Tourism will be boosted by the DMV Bus, which travels past coastal scenery and hot springs. 


Japan has a long history of inventing bizarre devices. The latest example is an absolute gem. 

The bus can transform into a train! 

Dual-mode vehicles, also known as ‘DMV’, are able to transform in 15 seconds from a bus-style vehicle to a train-like one. This is possible thanks to the steel wheels, which can be easily lowered onto the tracks at the touch of a button. When the DMV returns to its original position, the mode interchange switches between the two modes. The steel wheels will retract and the rubber tires can lead.

The DMV bus (pictured above) can turn into a train in a matter of seconds

In a matter seconds, the DMV bus can transform into a train (see above).

It can hold 23 people, including the driver. The DMV measures eight meters (26ft) long. The DMV is significantly lighter than regular trains because it weighs only 5,850kg (5.85 tonnes).

It can reach speeds up to 60kmph on tracks (37mph) but it can also travel faster on roads, depending on what speed limit is in place.

It’s due to start operating on Christmas Day under Asa Seaside Railways, and will link the Tokushima and Kochi prefectures in Shikoku, one of the four main islands of Japan. 

The innovative dual-mode vehicle is due to start operating on Christmas Day under Asa Seaside Railways

Asa Seaside Railroads will be operating the innovative dual-mode vehicle on Christmas Day

The bus is equipped with road-friendly rubber tyres and steel wheels that can run on railway tracks

It is fitted with rubber tires that are road friendly and steel wheels which can be used on rail tracks.

Asa Seaside Railways currently has a fleet of three DMV buses - each brightly coloured in shades of green, red and blue

Asa Seaside Railroads has three DMV bus fleets – one brightly colored in the shades green, red, and blue

A map showing where the DMV will operate

An illustration of the DMV’s location

Once the bus is up and running it will move from Awaka Bunka Mura (Tokushima prefecture) to Umi no Eki Toromu (Kochi prefecture). 

Asa Seaside railways currently operates three DMV buses, each with brightly-colored colors in the shades green, red, or blue. 

The madcap form of transport is intended to attract tourism to the district and to ‘curb the depopulation’ of the area. 

Along the route, passengers can stop off at the Shishikui hot springs, one of the area’s biggest tourist draws.

It passes by beaches, the small rural town of Kaiyo, and a part of the coast that faces out onto the Pacific Ocean that’s ’ideal for sightseeing’, according to Asa Seaside Railways.

What’s more, the DMV can be used in the event of an earthquake, providing ‘rapid assistance’ to victims by either road or rail. 

Asa Seaside railways believes that the DMV can strengthen the local transport system and help the elderly.

Asa Seaside Railways released the following statement: “The DMV” is the world’s most versatile vehicle that can be driven on either roads or tracks, which makes it more convenient to use local transport. 

The madcap form of transport is intended to attract tourists and to ‘curb depopulation’

The madcap form of transport is intended to attract tourists and to ‘curb depopulation’

Asa Seaside Railways hopes that the DMV will strengthen the local transport system

Asa Seaside Railways is hopeful that the DMV would strengthen the local transport network

Dual-mode vehicles, also known as ‘road–rail vehicles’ or ‘hi-rail’, aren’t a new invention. These vehicles are used most often for inspection and maintenance on rail tracks. 

Back in the 1930s, Britain trialled a road-rail bus – a modified single-decker bus – called the ‘Karrier Ro-Railer’ on the Nickey Line, a disused line in Hertfordshire. It was only in use for three months before it became unprofitable. 

This concept was successfully applied around the globe, with varying degrees. New South Wales Government Railways tested a road-rail bus in Australia during the 1970s. The Schi-Stra-Bus in Germany operated in every decade from 1950 to 1970.

The Schi-Stra-Bus, pictured above, was in operation from the 1950s to the 1970s in Germany. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons

Pictured above is the Schi-Stra-Bus. It was used in Germany between the 1950s and the 1970s. Photo courtesy Creative Commons