Rail apology after train leaves 20 seconds early

A Japanese rail firm has apologised after an intercity service left a station 20 seconds earlier than scheduled.

The Tsukuba Express train was due to leave Minami Nagareyama Station, just north of Tokyo, for Tsukuba at 9.44.40am local time on Tuesday, but instead left at 9.44.20am.

A statement posted on the Metropolitan Intercity Railway website said the crew “did not sufficiently check the departure time”.

The statement said the company’s management wanted to “deeply apologise for the severe inconvenience” to any customers affected by the error, even though it did not receive any complaints.

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Passengers who catch the firm’s Tsukuba Express service from Akihabara in eastern Tokyo can expect to reach Tsukuba, which is just short of 36 miles away, in about 45 minutes. The trains pull up every four minutes.

Japan’s railways are well known for their punctuality and reliability, and many commuters are said to plan their journey so that they arrive at the platform just as the train is pulling up.

The Tsukuba Express, which can reach speeds of up to 81mph, opened in August 2005 and carries more than 230,000 passengers a day.

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