Japanese train leaves 20 seconds early, leading to heartfelt apology from rail company
copyright AFP

Japanese train leaves 20 seconds early, leading to heartfelt apology from rail company

TORONTO — In a perfect world, trains would never break down, slow down or be late. But Japan has the exact opposite problem, with trains running…too much on time?

According to the BBC, a rail company in Japan recently issued a public apology after one of its trains left the station 20 seconds early.

Not 20 minutes – 20 seconds. This is how much the Japanese value punctuality.

In its apology, the company said its Tsukuba Express line, which runs between Tokyo and Tsukuba, had been scheduled to leave Minami Nagareyama Station at 9:44:40 local time. But in an uncharacteristic departure from perfection, the train left early at 9:44:20.

“The crew did not sufficiently check the departure time and performed the departure operation,” the statement said. It added that the company did not receive any customer complaints about the early departure.

Japan has one of the world’s most reliable railway systems, so reliable that a train leaving 20 seconds earlier than planned has caused headlines around the world.

This, of course, prompted countless tongue-in-cheek tweets from people poking fun at their own country’s transportation woes in comparison. Here are just a few: