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A Japanese rail company has "deeply apologised" for a train leaving a station early — by 20 seconds.
The train was scheduled to depart at 9:44 am on Tuesday morning (local time), but an over-eager conductor let it go instead at 9:43:40. The incident happened at Minami Nagareyama station on the line connecting two towns 60 kilometres apart.
The trip takes 45 minutes, so travellers might expect a 20-second margin of error to fall within acceptable limits.
They could contrast with Sydney trains, which defines being "on time" if the train leaves within five minutes of its scheduled departure.
In its formal apology issued later the same day, Tsukuba Express management noted "the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers".
Amused journalist Casey Basel, who writes for SoraNews24, said the apology summed up the little things that made Japan so great.
"The fact that Japanese companies care so much about customer satisfaction, consistently try to look at things from the end-users' point of view, and are willing to offer a sincere apology — even for understandable inconveniences is, really, one of the most beautiful parts of Japanese society, and one of my favourite things about living here," said the Californian, who now lives and works in Japan.
Frustrated commuters from other countries have retweeted Basel's article and prodded their own train companies to take note, with comments like: "read; weep; read; laugh".
"LMAO, I sent nearly the same earlier to Northern Rail. They're shite too!" one person said, referring to a British train service.
Japanese commuters enjoy a train service noted for its efficiency and punctuality. Any passengers at Minami Nagareyama who missed their train because of the error need only have waited four minutes for the next one to arrive.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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