After passengers had boarded, the crew didn't check the time, resulting in the slightly early departure "around" 9:44 a.m., the company said.
The Tsukuba Express line connects Akihabara in Tokyo with Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture. Shockingly, the train left at 9:43:40.
"We deeply apologize for the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers", the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company said, in a translation by Sora News 24.
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It's pretty common knowledge among Japanese people that Japan's trains are far more precise and punctual than their overseas counterparts, so my coworker, SoraNews24 Japanese-language correspondent Mr. Sato, asked me for my take on this.
Japanese trains are known for their punctuality, and the early departure apparently mortified the Tsukuba Express management.
Crew are said to have "not checked the departure time sufficiently". Actually, just because another is a long in four minutes doesn't mean that it won't fuck up their day by making them miss their connecting train.
Thursday's microscopically early train passed with no apparent impact other than a few laughs on social media, unlike a deadly crash in 2005 that killed more than 100 passengers when the train driver began speeding to make up for a lost 90 seconds in the schedule.