Apology Issued After Train Leaves 20 Seconds Early

A Japanese train company has issued an apology after one of its trains left the station 20 seconds early.

On the morning of November 14, a northbound train from the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company’s Tsukuba Express pulled into Minami Nagareyama Station, in Chiba Prefecture, on its way from Akihabara Station in Tokyo to Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture. After pausing to let passengers on and off, the train continued on its way, leaving the station at 9:43:40. However, the timetable for that train indicated that the train was supposed to leave at 9:44.

Although no complaints were registered about the train having left 20 seconds ahead of time, later that day, the company issued a formal apology on its website, saying that it was sorry for having terribly inconvenienced its passengers for the early departure.

image of press release by Tsukuba Express for train that left 20 seconds early
Image via SoraNews24

As translated over at SoraNews24, the statement reads:

“On November 14, at approximately 9:44 am, a northbound Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company (main office in Tokyo, Chiyoda Ward, President & CEO Koichi Yugi) train left Minami Nagareyama Station roughly 20 seconds earlier than the time indicated on the timetable. We deeply apologize for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers.”

For anyone who has spent time living or traveling in Japan will know, trains generally run well on time, and if there are any apologies for not sticking to the schedule, they’re for being late, and not early. In fact, this is the first time that we’ve ever heard about an apology for a train leaving ahead of time. As the BBC points out, this apology, and the attention to detail that it represents, has prompted some social media users to request the same kind of diligence from their train operators in the UK and the US.

What do you think? Is apologizing for a 20 second early departure excessive, or does it make you love the Japanese train system even more?

Image: sanno/Flickr, used under CC

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