A news item enlightened us with the fact that a Japanese rail operator had apologised for a train’s departure time. The apology was not made in a matter-of-fact, business-like and unemotional manner. Instead, the apology over the Tsukuba Express leaving the station 20 seconds prior to its scheduled time, was a profound one.
Although the Japanese themselves were puzzled with this oddity, the Indians too were utterly surprised. After all, we Indians are accustomed to travelling in late-running trains, while the Japanese see it as a kick in their teeth.
The train’s scheduled departure time was 9:44:40 AM, but the train departed 20 seconds earlier. In a statement, a spokesperson said that a sound is rung 15 seconds before the train’s departure. This is followed by an announcement of the safety norms that passengers need to follow before the train leaves the station. After all, Japan is well-known for its punctuality and hospitality, and the apology only shows the dedication of the authorities in ensuring this.
However, in our own country, we do not see any kind of apology coming from the department concerned in case of a train’s delay. The most recent example of this is the superfast inter-city train between Kanpur and Allahabad. Its late-running has troubled passengers since its start. It usually takes more than five hours to cover 195 kilometres.
For instance, it reached Allahabad Junction after 1:15 PM on November 16, 2017. Its long stoppage at Subedarganj station is a passenger’s nightmare, after which it runs with a ‘hare’s vanity’. On the return journey, it followed the same course. From Allahabad Junction, it started its journey much later than its scheduled time of 6:20 PM It made several unscheduled stops, and finally reached Kanpur way past midnight.
A comparison has been made to throw light on the punctuality in observing train schedules in the two countries. Evidently, the Japenese prefer to move exactly on time and cannot tolerate a second’s difference. However, in India, this kind of punctual mentality is sorely and visibly lacking.