Small cats, dogs and even pigeons are allowed on bullet trains in Japan, but snakes are where Central Japan Rail draws the line. On Tuesday evening, however, a 40-centimeter serpent managed to find its way on to a Shinkansen bound for Osaka. A passenger discovered the snake loitering on the train between Tokyo and Nagoya. While there was no injury or panic among the passengers, the rail company decided to use another train for the rest of the journey as officials attempted to capture the carnivorous reptile. It led to a 17-minute delay.  

Shinkansen (twicepix)

Rules Against Bringing a Snake on the Shinkansen  

The breed of snake is unknown, and an investigation is taking place to determine how it managed to board the Shinkansen. “It’s difficult to imagine wild snakes somehow climbing onto the train at one of the stations,” a spokesperson said. “We have rules against bringing snakes onto the Shinkansen. But we don’t check passengers’ baggage.” It’s also not the first time a snake has been discovered on a Shinkansen in Japan. In 2016, a passenger saw a python curled around the armrest of another person’s seat, leading to an unscheduled stop. Despite the disruption, the train managed to arrive at its destination, in Hiroshima, on time.  

While the Shinkansen is known for its punctuality, there have been a few high-profile delays this year. Several lines were suspended in January due to a power outage. Two months later, a bullet train overran a station in northeastern Japan by around 500 meters, causing suspensions and delays of the service. Earlier this month, Shinkansen lines bound for Kyushu were temporarily halted after a man threw some cup noodles at the train. Approximately 5,600 passengers were affected by the delays which lasted for up to 40 minutes. 

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