Another month, another train disrupted because of a snake. In April, a Shinkansen service bound for Osaka was delayed by 17 minutes after a passenger discovered one loitering in a carriage. On Sunday, it was the JR Yamanote Line that was affected by the appearance of a snake. Spotted in the eighth car of the 11-car train, it led to the evacuation of all passengers at Komagome Station, so staff could look for the stowaway serpent. After 15 minutes of searching, they found nothing, so the service resumed. Passengers, though, were kept out of the car where the sighting was reported.  

After making its final stop at Osaki Station, the train was taken for maintenance to its depot in Shinagawa. Following a thorough search, a 20-centimeter-long snake was discovered under a seat. It was then handed over to the police. The serpent was identified as a young, non-venomous Japanese rat snake (scientific name Elaphe climacophora). With no inquiries from the public about a missing snake, the police decided to release it into the wild. According to JR officials, approximately 2,700 passengers were affected by the incident. There were no reports of any injuries. 

Snakes are Banned from Trains  

While JR does allow small cats, dogs and even pigeons on trains in Japan, it draws the line at snakes. If a passenger is found to have brought in a dangerous item that is prohibited, he or she may be charged with forceful obstruction of business. If an animal bites or injures a passenger, the owner may be charged with gross negligence. There is, of course, the possibility that it was a wild snake. They can sometimes crawl into folded umbrellas or travel along power lines.

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