Snake on Train Delays Japanese Bullet Service

Passengers get on a Kodama bullet train, or "shinkansen" service to the city of Nagoya at Tokyo station in central Tokyo on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP)
Passengers get on a Kodama bullet train, or "shinkansen" service to the city of Nagoya at Tokyo station in central Tokyo on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP)
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Snake on Train Delays Japanese Bullet Service

Passengers get on a Kodama bullet train, or "shinkansen" service to the city of Nagoya at Tokyo station in central Tokyo on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP)
Passengers get on a Kodama bullet train, or "shinkansen" service to the city of Nagoya at Tokyo station in central Tokyo on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Richard A. Brooks / AFP)

Even small delays in Japan's much-vaunted bullet trains are rare, and more unusual still are snakes on board holding up the speedy "shinkansen" services.

On Tuesday evening, a passenger alerted security to a 40-centimeter serpent lurking on a train between Nagoya and Tokyo, resulting in a 17-minute hold-up.

It was unclear whether the cold-blooded commuter was venomous or how it ended up on the train, and there was no injury or panic among passengers, a spokesman for Central Japan Railway Company told Agence France Presse.

Shinkansen customers can bring small dogs, cats and other animals, including pigeons on board -- but not snakes.

"It's difficult to imagine wild snakes somehow climbing onto the train at one of the stations. We have rules against bringing snakes into the shinkansen," the spokesman told AFP.

"But we don't check passengers' baggage," he said.

The train was originally scheduled to go on to Osaka, but the company decided to use a different train for the trip, causing a delay of about 17 minutes, he said.

Patrols by uniformed security guards onboard bullet trains were scaled up after a fatal stabbing in 2018 on a shinkansen that shocked normally ultra-safe Japan.

Additional security was added for the Summer Olympics in 2021 and Group of Seven meetings last year.

First launched in 1964, the shinkansen network has never suffered an accident resulting in any passenger fatalities or injuries, according to Japan Railways.

The trains can travel at 285 kilometers per hour, with an average delay of 0.2 minutes.



King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
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King Charles to Take Part in Official Birthday Celebrations

FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)
FILE - Britain's King Charles III pauses during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London on Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool, File)

King Charles III will take part in his official birthday celebrations in a little over two weeks, as the monarch eases his way back into public duties while continuing to undergo cancer treatment, Buckingham Palace confirmed on Thursday.
The news came amid reports that Prince William’s wife, Kate, will miss a public rehearsal for the event as she, too, receives treatment for cancer. It remains unclear whether the Princess of Wales will attend the main ceremony, known as Trooping the Color, on June 15, Britain's Press Association reported.
Kate has revealed few details about her illness or treatment since announcing her cancer diagnosis on March 22.
Charles had been returning to public duties before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week called a snap election. That forced the king to postpone engagements that might divert attention from the campaign, raising questions about whether he would attend the birthday celebration.
Trooping the Color is a 460-year old tradition in which troops in full dress uniform parade past the king with their ceremonial flag, also known as their “color.”

Charles is likely to travel to the event by carriage with Queen Camilla and is expected to watch the Trooping ceremony seated on a dais, rather than on horseback as he did last year.