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The surprisingly interesting psychology behind Japan’s train system

42 10 25

THE subtle working of Japan’s rail system may not be a topic that immediately whips you up into a flurry of excitement.

But consider the billions of people packed shoulder to shoulder making their way through Tokyo’s metro system each year, the trains running to a split-second timetable, and immaculate stations, you might start to appreciate the planning that goes into making sure this all goes off without a hitch.

Despite being home to world’s busiest train stations, Tokyo has managed to retain its reputation for reliability and staggering punctuality. In May this year, the system won global fame when it made a heartfelt apology for one of its trains leaving the station 25 seconds early. You could almost hear the collective groan of London commuters from here.

The system handles 13 billion combined passenger trips annually. While peering into a Tokyo station at rush may look like chaos, the fact that commuters manage to glide alongside each other without incident is not by coincidence or pure luck.

SEE ALSO: How Japanese firms are cashing in on Bangkok’s traffic jams

While most stations around the world use subtle cues to “nudge” passengers into the more efficient behaviour – think painted footprints on the ground or chevrons are the........

© Asian Correspondent