Japanese Rail and its apology

In a story, that will shock all commuters in the western world, a Japanese rail company has apologised after it’s train left the station 25 seconds before departure, the second case like this in the past few months.

Scheduled to leave at 7.12 am, the train pulled out of the station 25 seconds before the change of minute, leaving passengers to miss their train.

The official explanation given by the train company? The conductor had thought departure was a minute earlier and closed the doors. On quickly realising his mistake, he looked at the empty platform and pulled away from the Notogawa Station, according to reports in Japan Today.

On missing the train, commuters complained to the rail operator and an apology was issued, stating the “great inconvenience we placed upon our customers was truly inexcusable”.

In November 2018, a similar story broke where a train left 20 seconds early. Scheduled to leave at 9:44:40, the train pulled out of Minami Nagareyama Station, which is just north of Tokyo, at 9:44:20. The train company explained the staff had not correctly checked the timetabling.

Japanese train companies have built a reputation for on time travel and delays and changes to timetables are very rare. The country’s Tokaido line, running from Tokyo to the city of Kobe, is the world’s busiest and carries up to 150 million passengers a year.

The Japanese railway, is operated by the Japanese Railways Group, which consists of seven companies that took over the government owned railway system in 1987. Since then they have introduced, 6 different “companies” to operate systems in different parts of the country. Passengers are able to travel across several different JR companies without purchasing separate tickets or changing trains which can work across all different companies

However, the Japanese obsession with punctuality has ended in tragedy once before, in the year 2005. A driver, realising he was 100 seconds late, sped up, derailing the train and costing over 100 people their lives. Just after rush hour on the 25th of April 2005, the seven-car commuter train came off the rails in the Hyogo prefecture, close to the city of Osaka. Of the 700 passengers on board, 106 passengers lost their lives, including the driver, while 562 people were injured. It was the worst rail disaster in Japan since the 1963 Tsurumi tragedy, in which two trains collided, killing 162 people.