Almost nothing stops Japan’s bullet trains – but a snake did


Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains have a reputation for punctuality. Kyodo News/Getty Images

By Moeri KarasawaTokyo, Apr 18: Almost nothing stops Japan’s famous high-speed bullet trains from running exactly on time – but a tiny snake slithering through a passenger carriage will do the trick, albeit for just 17 minutes.

On Tuesday, a commuter reported to station staff in Tokyo that a 40-centimeter (16-inch) snake had been spotted in the carriage of a train arriving from Nagoya, according to the Central Japan Railway Company.

The train had been scheduled to depart for the city of Osaka but was instead put out of service as a precaution. Another train had to be assigned to the route, causing a delay that, while brief by many other national railway standards, was relatively significant for Japan’s relentlessly punctual service.

No injuries were reported. Over 600 passengers were affected by the delay.

The breed of the snake is unknown, and a review is underway to determine how the snake got on board, the railway company told CNN.

The bullet train, known as the Shinkansen in Japan, is known for its efficiency as well as speeds of up to 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph). Commuters in Japan have come to expect its reliability.

In 2017, a conductor on one service, the Tsukuba Express, triggered a network apology after he departed 20 seconds early.

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