- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2017

Here’s a commuting problem Washington-area rail commuters would love to have: Trains that run so punctually that rail companies profusely apologize for the “severe inconvenience” caused when one accidentally leaves the station early.

The BBC reported Thursday that officials for Tsukuba Express in Japan did just that Tuesday after one of its trains left a station a mere 20 seconds ahead of schedule.

The company owned up to the error and apologized, even though it appears no passengers reported being inconvenienced by the early departure, BBC said.

“On November 14, at approximately 9:44 a.m., a northbound Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company (main office in Tokyo, Chiyoda Ward, President & CEO Koichi Yugi) train left Minami Nagareyama Station roughly 20 seconds earlier than the time indicated on the timetable,” reads an English translation of the statement provided by Japan’s SoraNews24. “We deeply apologize for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers.”

According to SoraNews24, trains on the Tsukuba Express line run every four minutes.

While it appears even many native Japanese think the rail company was being a little too hard on itself, Casey Baseel, an American expat employed with SoraNews24, said the occasion illustrates why he’s fallen in love with the country.

“[T]he fact that Japanese companies care so much about customer satisfaction, consistently try to look at things from the end-user’s 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 favorite things about living here,” Mr. Baseel wrote.


• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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