Look, you wouldn’t catch us complaining if a train left just that little bit early.
But in Japan, where the railway system is famous for being consistently punctual, no more or less, leaving too soon doesn’t quite fly with authorities.
After a train left 25 seconds early last Friday morning, railway company JR West posted an apology and press release on its website.
The grievous error, as translated by Sora News, happened when a 12-car train left Notogawa Station for Nishi-Akashi Station at 7:11:35 a.m. as opposed to 7:12 a.m. as scheduled.
The mishap occurred when the train’s conductor misunderstood the departure time and sent out a signal for the train to leave the station. However, there were several people waiting to board left behind, and one person reported the incident to JR West.
“The great inconvenience we placed upon our customers was truly inexcusable,” according to the press release. “We will be thoroughly evaluating our conduct and striving to keep such an incident from occurring again.”
The next train to leave Notogawa for Nishi-Akashi, at 7:19 a.m., would’ve made commuters planning to get the 7:12 a.m. service six minutes late. In a country where being a few minutes late to work or school carries serious consequences, it’s a big deal.
A similar incident occurred last year, when Tsukuba Express management issued an apology after a train between Tokyo and Tsukuba left 20 seconds earlier than scheduled.