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17 Nov 2017

Japanese rail operator apologizes after train leaves 20 seconds early

Japan is synonymous with efficiency, punctuality, humility and a desire for achieving perfection.

This is best epitomized by a Japanese rail company that apologized after one of its trains departed 20 seconds early from a station.

The company said it was "sincerely apologize for the inconvenience" caused. The statement came even though the company received no complaints.

It left many social media users surprised.

In context

Why is Japan so serious about train timings?

What happened?

Train crew didn't check departure time correctly

On November 14, the Tsukuba Express departed from Minami Nagareyama station, located just north of Tokyo, at 9.44.20am instead of 9.44.40am.

Nonetheless, the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company felt the need to apologize.

"The crew did not sufficiently check the departure time and performed the departure operation," it said.

It added that the crew had been instructed follow procedures strictly to prevent a repeat.

Passengers didn't notice if anything was amiss

The passengers who boarded the train didn't notice if anything was amiss, nor did any travelers miss the train. In fact, the passengers would suffer little inconvenience as the next train would arrive just four minutes later.

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Japan takes train punctuality very seriously

Japan has one of the world's most reliable railways. It's rare for trains to leave at a different time than the one scheduled.

Even a minute's delay leads to huge apologies by train operators.

In fact, if a local train is delayed over five minutes, working commuters can request train authorities for a delayed certificate as proof for coming late to employers.

Wil Japanese bullet train bring punctuality to Indian Railway?

In September, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Indian PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the ambitious Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project. We can only hope that with Japanese technology comes the Japanese punctuality in India's rail sector.

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