Importing Japan culture: Railways to say ‘sorry’ if bullet train gets late by a minute


New Delhi, Jan 30: Punctuality is not a popular word in Indian culture and the country's railway service is no exception.

However, as India crawls towards having its first bullet train in some time, the National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRCL) has decided that it will say "sorry" to each passenger in case a bullet train delays, even if by a few minutes.

The NHSRCL is currently implementing a high-speed train corridor between Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Mumbai in Maharashtra, covering a distance of 508.17 kilometres at a speed of 320 kilometres per hour.

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The expected time for the travel will be two hours as against seven hours by train now.

NHSRCL has said that it is trying to imbibe the Shinkansen culture of Japan where even a minute's delay is considered a delay. "We will apologise to our clients. We will also issue a public apology in the train, at stations, if we are delayed. This is the Shinkansen culture we aim to imbibe, wherein delay by even a minute or so is considered a delay. We will also explain the reasons for the delay to our passengers," NHSRCL Managing Director Achal Khare was quoted as saying by The Sunday Express.

Shinkansen trains have not only made Japan famous for their high speed travelling but also the famed work culture that is followed in 'Land of the Rising Sun'.

In Japan, bullet trains on an average reach their final destination less than a minute late and in case the delay is by five minutes or more, the passengers are given a certificate that they can produce at their office or institutions to cite the reason for their arriving late, BBC News reported (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42024020).

In fact, a rail company in Japan apologised to the passengers in 2017 after a train started 20 seconds early.

In India, the punctuality stats are a distant second. According to data collected by the Railway Board, 2018 saw a four-year low in the maintenance of punctuality in train services, InUth cited reports as saying.

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The overall punctuality of trains was 73 per cent in November as compared to 79.3 per cent (2017-18), 79.41 per cent (2016-17) and 83.37 per cent (2015-16).

As per the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), lack of adequate infrastructure was the reason for trains getting late.

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