Rush hour delays – The first-ever government study into rush hour train delays for services in the Greater Tokyo region has revealed issues that don’t match up with the image of Japanese punctuality.
So what are the issues facing commuter rail in and around Japan’s capital?
Across the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures, millions of citizens rely on the rail network to get to and from work every day. More than 100 passenger rail lines serve almost 900 interconnected stations across the city, with annual ridership estimated to be a hefty 13 billion a year.
Efficient railways are not just a symptom of Japanese attitudes towards punctuality, but a necessity. Train drivers are rigorously trained to cover track distances within seconds of an allotted time. Upon arrival, white-gloved station employees perform a series of point-and-call signals to keep things moving with military precision.
Nevertheless, research by the Railway Bureau of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has revealed that Greater Tokyo’s railways are not infallible. The report found that 29 of 45 lines serving Tokyo experienced morning rush-hour delays on at least ten of 20 working days per month in 2016.
Foreigners making the trips to the Japanese capital are regularly assured that the trains ‘always run on time’. However, the evidence suggests that the most efficient railway in the world is feeling the strain.