Japanese train company apologises after train leaves 20 seconds early

Tsukuba Express TX-1000 series trains sit parked outside the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Co. maintenance facility in Tsukubamirai, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Photographer:Akio Kon/ Bloomberg

British commuters are only too acquainted with the daily frustration of late trains on the way to work.

But it’s all very different in Japan, where a rail company has apologised after one of its train departed some 20 seconds early.

Management on the Tsukuba Express line apologised after the train departed on a route that goes between Tokyo and the city of Tsukuba.

In an statement, they explained that the train had been scheduled to leave at 9.44.40 local time, but instead departed at 9.44.20.

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The statement confirmed that the “crew did not sufficiently check the departure time and performed the departure operation.”

Incredibly, the apology was still made despite the train company failing to receive a single complaint about the early departure.

The Tsukuba Express line transports passengers from Akihabara in eastern Tokyo to the city of Tsukuba in 45 minutes.

Trains in Japan are among the most reliable in the world, with the Tokkaido line alone ferrying some 150 million passengers every year.