Rail operator Central Japan Railway has revealed that the number of passengers on Japan’s bullet train has declined by 56% in early March when compared with last year.

The figures indicate low travel demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

It marks the biggest drop in nearly 33 years since Japan National Railways was broken up and privatised in 1987.

The current decrease in ridership on the Tokaido Shinkansen, connecting Tokyo with Osaka, surpasses the 20% drop in March 2011, when Japan had suffered a deadly earthquake and tsunami, Nikkei Asian has reported.

Central Japan Railway president Shin Kaneko said: “These numbers are severe on an unprecedented level.

“We never anticipated it would happen to this extent from the latter half of February.”

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Last month, Central Japan Railway had reported an 8% drop in shinkansen passengers.

Normally, the bullet train in Japan generates nearly JPY4bn ($38.3 million) of revenue a day.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), officially named as Covid-19 by WHO, has spread to 107 more countries apart from China, alarming public health authorities across the world.

A total of 121,270 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection, including 4,377 deaths, have been reported across the world as of 11 March 2020.