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Picture a bus that can be driven both on rails and on the street. Now stop laughing. Seriously, in Japan the JR Hokkaido Railway Company has already come up with such a hybrid — which switches between rubber tires and steel wheels — and is close to putting it into service. More than 4,000 riders have already test-ridden the dual-mode vehicle, as part of a test in November. The point is to give small rail operators an option to make their local lines more efficient and adaptable, while cutting costs. The price for each car will be around $150,000, or 1/7 the price of a diesel rail car. The first commercial run will likely begin this April, on parts of the Semmo Line near Shiretoko.

Dual-mode vehicle a hit in Japan [Sydney Morning Herald]

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