The number of passengers using Tokaido Shinkansen line services between March 1 and Wednesday tumbled 55 percent from a year earlier, Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Central) has said.

The sharp drop reflects the large number of cancellations in business and sightseeing trips as COVID-19 continues to spread.

The cumulative number of passengers on the shinkansen line connecting Tokyo and Osaka from April 1 last year to Wednesday fell 3 percent, the operator said Thursday, indicating that the full fiscal 2020 passenger count is set to be worse than the previous year's result.

JR Central also said that so far in March, sales at its retail units — such as Tokai Kiosk Co. — had fallen about 60 percent, and the average occupancy rate at group hotels in Nagoya, where the railway operator is based, had plunged below 40 percent.

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