Japanese rail company issues formal apology for train leaving 20 seconds early

Japanese firm issues apology for train leaving 20 seconds early
Photo credit: Getty.

A rail firm has reinforced Japan's reputation for ruthlessly efficient transport, by formally apologising for a train that departed 20 seconds ahead of schedule.

Passengers aboard Tuesday's Tsukuba Express from Minami Nagareyama station, just north of Tokyo, probably didn't notice that their service departed at 9:44:20am instead of 9:44:40am.  

Nevertheless, the rail operator found the incident serious enough to post an official statement:

"On November 14, at approximately 9:44 am, a northbound Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company train left Minami Nagareyama Station roughly 20 seconds earlier than the time indicated on the timetable. We deeply apologise for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers," JapanToday reported.

Unfavourable comparisons were quickly made on social media, with one Canadian man tweeting: "Pretty sure @AirCanada would need a new, fully stocked "#apology" Department."

As for passengers who may have missed the errant train - the next arrived just four minutes later. 

On time.