SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) — The number of passengers using South Korea’s railroad services tumbled nearly 40 percent in the first nine months of the year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Thursday.

The number of passengers on high-speed KTX and 13 other railroad lines across the country totaled 63.89 million in the January-September period, or 61.7 percent of the 134.4 million recorded during the same period a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Railroad Corp. (Korail).

The number of railroad passengers in Asia’s fourth-largest economy plunged from 11.53 million in January to 5.28 million in March as the COVID-19 pandemic spread quickly.

The figure swung to an upturn thereafter and rose to 8.2 million in July before decreasing to 7.55 million in August and 5.77 million in September amid a resurgence of infections beginning in mid-August.

KTX bullet train services were hit hardest with the number of passengers nose-diving 51.8 percent on-year to 48.6 million during the eight-month period.

The sharp drop in the number of railroad passengers came amid a prolonged coronavirus outbreak here. Nearly 24,900 South Koreans have been infected with the novel coronavirus so far, with the death toll reaching 438 as of Wednesday.