JAPAN: An experimental light metro using roller coaster-style technology is to be built at the Chiba test site of Tokyo University’s Institute of Industrial Science.

The Eco Ride metro will use equipment supplied by theme park ride manufacturers Senyo Kogyo and Senyo Kiko.

Track-mounted drive units will pull the cars up gradients, before letting them coast downhill under gravity. Because the vehicles will not need to carry traction equipment they can be made smaller and lighter than equivalent powered cars, which it is hoped could reduce energy consumption and land take.

The cost per kilometre is put at up to ¥2·5bn, and it is hoped that Eco Ride could be suitable for light metros up to around 10 km long, giving a capacity of 2500 passengers per hour and a maximum speed of 30 km/h.