Here’s what Japan did when a train was 25 seconds too early

A railway station attendant waits for a subway operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West). Source: Shutterstock.

WORLD renowned for both punctual transport and the need to “keep face” in professional dealings, Japan’s railway companies hold themselves to an exceptionally high standard.

This was demonstrated last week when a train company issued a public apology for a “truly inexcusable” incident where one of its trains left early – 25 whole seconds early.

According to a press release from West Japan Railways (JR West), a train stopped at Notogawa Station in Shiga Prefecture last Friday mistakenly left the station at 7:11:35am – 25 seconds prior to its scheduled departure of 7:12am, reported Sora News 24.

“The great inconvenience we placed upon our customers was truly inexcusable,” it said.

There were a few customers who had not yet boarded and missed the train, said the press release.

“We will be thoroughly evaluating our conduct and striving to keep such an incident from occurring again,” JR West later added.

The 221 series local train at Maibara station in Shiga, Japan, operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) for Biwako line (Kyoto – Nagahama). Source: Shutterstock.

According to SoraNews24, the conductor had thought that the train was supposed to depart at 7:11am, which was when he closed the doors to the 12-car train. He realized his mistake almost immediately and glanced at the platform, but he did not notice anyone there.

The train then pulled away from the station.

It is not the first time a Japanese rail operator has issued a public apology for a train leaving early.

Last November, Metropolitan Intercity Railway Co. in Tokyo apologized for the “tremendous nuisance” caused to its customers after a train left 20 seconds early from the platform.

In fact, at that time the company said there had been no complaint from travelers over the incident.

Japan’s metro system is known to be among the most reliable in the world, comparable only to Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore.

Missing a train could turn a commuter’s plans or day upside down, as it could cause them to miss other transfers on their way to their destinations.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Asian Correspondent.