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Ehbowen had it right. It was almost entirely political. It was a let's look like we are doing something moment by one of the most incompetent people to ever hold the office of president.

This from someone who rants about other people getting too political in other threads. By all means, let the hypocrisy continue...

Edited by Texas Sunset

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In the late 1970's Conrail had fixed up the trackage between Pittsburg and St. Louis. By that time the National Limited was using F40's, Amfleet and an early HEP sleeper. There was no diner, only an AmCafe. The same was true of the Inter-American. The Lone Star never received any new or rebuilt HEP equipment. It was steam heated until the end. I rode both trains during the late 1970's/early 1980's. The Lone Star was a good train until the end. It primarily used ex-Santa Fe equipment including Hi-Level coaches and had ex-Santa Fe employees. The Santa Fe trackage was also good. It was too bad that train was discontinued.

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Ehbowen had it right. It was almost entirely political. It was a let's look like we are doing something moment by one of the most incompetent people to ever hold the office of president.

This from someone who rants about other people getting too political in other threads. By all means, let the hypocrisy continue...

 

Seriously mister stick-up-his-ass, read one of my previous posts. This is not a big deal. At all. Things could be much worse, and over-regulation doesn't improve dialogue for anyone.

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The Lone Star actually looks like it was very well patronized. It wouldn't surprise me if the 1979 LD routes that were selected were not actually only on ridership, probably much more political. I can now easily believe the 7th most popular LD claim, maybe even higher in some years. An this is assuming many more LD trains than we have now, so 7 probably meant more back then.

 

 

 

2. The I-A was doing really badly until the ridership jump in 1977. Persumably it only ran thrice-weekly previously, then became daily. No matter what, the I-A has far less riderhship than to day and also far less ridership thn the LS. I would think that they would have cancelled the I-A in 1979 instead of the LS.

 

It's been many years, but if I'm remembering correctly one of the reasons (if not THE reason) given for retaining the Inter-American over the Lone Star was that at that time it served Laredo and offered connections into Mexico. Of course, the service from San Antonio to Laredo wouldn't last all that long...

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I do not see any reason why they should have cancelled the Lone Star. Besides, the could have rerouted the LS to Loredo. Without Loredo, there is no other reason for the I-A's existence. It is good that this train is so heavily patronized today because otherwise the cut-back to SAS would have caused the I-A's cancellation. I also do not see why they cancelled the Champion.

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I do not see any reason why they should have cancelled the Lone Star. Besides, the could have rerouted the LS to Loredo. Without Loredo, there is no other reason for the I-A's existence. It is good that this train is so heavily patronized today because otherwise the cut-back to SAS would have caused the I-A's cancellation. I also do not see why they cancelled the Champion.

 

At least with the Champion, what was done (if I am not mistaken) is that the Champ's equipment was merged into the other Silvers. At one point, the combined Champion/Silver Meteor was a 26-car monster of a train. Additionally, I believe that the Silvers both stayed massive through most of the 1980s (i.e. in the mid-to-upper teens in terms of cars). It was basically a merger of trains to save on operating expenses, but I believe that most of the capacity remained for quite a while.

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Ehbowen had it right. It was almost entirely political. It was a let's look like we are doing something moment by one of the most incompetent people to ever hold the office of president.

This from someone who rants about other people getting too political in other threads. By all means, let the hypocrisy continue...

Seriously mister stick-up-his-ass, read one of my previous posts. This is not a big deal. At all. Things could be much worse, and over-regulation doesn't improve dialogue for anyone.

You don't seem to have any clue what I'm talking about. It's not about whether political controversy is bad or good or whether it should be allowed. It's about being objective in how any such controversy is handled. That's all. Now, as for the rest of your post, please keep your unsolicited interest in my anatomy to yourself. :lol:

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Johnny, you may want to read this:

http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/forum-13/announcement-7-politics-guidelines/

 

Particularly this:

Any post that expresses favor or preference for or against a specific politician, political candidate, or political party, or what they stand for, may be deleted at any staff member's discretion. The goal here is to protect the good-natured civility we all enjoy here on the forum. Common sense will dictate whether a post is likely to provoke other members. If we are lucky, the member will exercise such common sense before posting, and no intervention will be required.

 

It's perfectly possible to say that the Carter cuts were politically motivated without referring to President Carter as "one of the most incompetent people to ever hold the office of president" or saying "Jimmy Carter was an abject failure as a president".

 

But some people feel the need to get the political digs in and then hide behind the "but I don't want to bring politics into the discussion" when called on it.

 

Of course, we're likely all in violation of this:

If you disagree with a moderation decision made by a forum staff member, take it up with that person (or an Administrator) in a private message, NOT in public.

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Yes, Atlanta has MARTA rail that it didn't in 1971. Unfortunately the Amtrak station is nearly a mile from the nearest MARTA rail station. 33 years and 1 Olympics after Amtrak took over the Crescent, there's still no adequate Amtrak station in the country's 9th-most populous metro. Ouch.

 

As for the Floridian, it's true that Montgomery-Waycross was 300 miles of dark railroad at 59 mph. On the other hand, track conditions back then were no worse than today's Class III track between Raleigh NC and Fairfax SC that the Silver Star uses.

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I do not see any reason why they should have cancelled the Lone Star. Besides, they could have rerouted the LS to Loredo. Without Loredo, there is no other reason for the I-A's existence. It is good that this train is so heavily patronized today because otherwise the cut-back to SAS would have caused the I-A's cancellation. I also do not see why they cancelled the Champion.

 

At least with the Champion, what was done (if I am not mistaken) is that the Champ's equipment was merged into the other Silvers. At one point, the combined Champion/Silver Meteor was a 26-car monster of a train. Additionally, I believe that the Silvers both stayed massive through most of the 1980s (i.e. in the mid-to-upper teens in terms of cars). It was basically a merger of trains to save on operating expenses, but I believe that most of the capacity remained for quite a while.

 

Here comes one of the biggest questions in my mind, a huge reason why I started this thread. The SM/SS both used to be very long trains. They are not anymore. The SM/SS are both less than half the size they used to be. Even though Viewliners today carry more that the old Heritage sleepers, there is not much doubt that capacity has taken a hit. That is why I want to know exactly how much ridership the SM/SS used to have when they ran with over 20 cars each. I hope someone can dig up something about that.

 

Yes, Atlanta has MARTA rail that it didn't in 1971. Unfortunately the Amtrak station is nearly a mile from the nearest MARTA rail station. 33 years and 1 Olympics after Amtrak took over the Crescent, there's still no adequate Amtrak station in the country's 9th-most populous metro. Ouch.

 

As for the Floridian, it's true that Montgomery-Waycross was 300 miles of dark railroad at 59 mph. On the other hand, track conditions back then were no worse than today's Class III track between Raleigh NC and Fairfax SC that the Silver Star uses.

 

The American Southeast is definately a big hole in train operations. If the problems had been fixed in 1978, why did Amtrak cancel the train one year later, in 1979?

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Swadian,

The answer to the first question you asked is that when Amtrak had to get rid of their Heritage equipment, they did not get sufficient Viewliners to fill the gaps (and I think they got bupkis in terms of non-sleepers to replace diners and coaches that were retired around the same time). That crushed available capacity (and resulted in the Heritage Diner situation we're looking at now).

 

As to the '79 cuts, part of it is that Amtrak's subsidy got crunched. There was also a "passengers per train" metric of some sort that was used to determine which trains got the axe, which meant that some trains that were selling out often (such as the National Limited) were cut because Amtrak lacked the equipment to expand them to meet the requirements. With that said, it is quite possible that the Floridian had suffered for long enough up until then that they were unable to get a ridership rebound in time to save the train.

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Swadian,

The answer to the first question you asked is that when Amtrak had to get rid of their Heritage equipment, they did not get sufficient Viewliners to fill the gaps (and I think they got bupkis in terms of non-sleepers to replace diners and coaches that were retired around the same time). That crushed available capacity (and resulted in the Heritage Diner situation we're looking at now).

 

As to the '79 cuts, part of it is that Amtrak's subsidy got crunched. There was also a "passengers per train" metric of some sort that was used to determine which trains got the axe, which meant that some trains that were selling out often (such as the National Limited) were cut because Amtrak lacked the equipment to expand them to meet the requirements. With that said, it is quite possible that the Floridian had suffered for long enough up until then that they were unable to get a ridership rebound in time to save the train.

 

Actually, I think you misunderstood my question. I was asking for simply the ridership figures of the NYP-MIA trains when they had very long consists. I know that it is hard to get the info but I hope that it is not impossible.

 

Fpr the 1979 cuts, I think that Amtrak could have just switched some cars from the NYP-MIA trains onto the NL to help meet the requirements. The LS should still have not been cancelled because the I-A was doing so much worse, AFAIK.

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As to the '79 cuts, part of it is that Amtrak's subsidy got crunched. There was also a "passengers per train" metric of some sort that was used to determine which trains got the axe, which meant that some trains that were selling out often (such as the National Limited) were cut because Amtrak lacked the equipment to expand them to meet the requirements. With that said, it is quite possible that the Floridian had suffered for long enough up until then that they were unable to get a ridership rebound in time to save the train.

When it comes to evaluating to cut a service, they may have looked at the numbers over the previous 2-3 complete fiscal year reports. If the National Limited had started to improve in 1978, the improvement may be too little to change the overall bottom line numbers.

 

The cuts as I understand it, the cuts were supposedly based on cost recovery numbers. Total ridership provides a very incomplete snapshot. Does not tell us the revenue mix - lot of short haul passengers paying less for tickets or long haul sleeper passengers providing more revenue. The biggest missing part of the picture is how much did it costs to run those trains at that time? Did the train have high crew costs because of inefficient routes or rules that resulted in more crew shifts than needed? Or high pending costs for the route because of decaying tracks and stations.

 

Still, looking at several of the 1977 and 1978 schedules, there are some interesting trains on there that I wonder how well they would do now (if the tracks were there, all in good condition): the Hilltopper for the interesting route, the Niagara Rainbow, the Shenandoah to Cincinnati. In many ways, in the eastern half of the US, Ohio suffered the biggest loss in passenger train service from the mid-1970s through the early 2000s.

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Inter-American/Eagle/Texas Eagle

1974 - 48,851

1975 - 40,476

1977 - 144,477

2011 - 299,508

 

Hopefully this it at least somewhat helpful.

 

First, Eric, that was incredibly helpful and fun to see, even though I'm not doing any of the calculations that Swadian and Anderson may or may not be doing.

 

On the TE, I am super impressed with the 2011 ridership. I had no idea that it was this high even though these stats were recently published. Since it is a train with only 1 consistent sleeper, I assume that the load factors must be pretty high. For the benefit of the doubt on the TE's side, I will assume that the 40,000 was with a tri-weekly train.

 

1973 - tri-weekly, Fort Worth - Laredo

1974 - tri-weekly, St. Louis - Laredo

1976 - daily, Chicago - Fort Worth; tri-weekly, Fort Worth - Laredo

1977 - daily, Chicago - Laredo

1977 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; tri-weekly, St. Louis - Laredo

summer 1978 & 1979 - daily, Chicago - Laredo

1979 - daily, Chicago - Laredo & Chicago - Houston

1981 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; tri-weekly, St. Louis - San Antonio

1988 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; tri-weekly, St. Louis - Houston/San San Antonio

1990 - daily, Chicago - Houston/San Antonio

1993 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; tri-weekly, St. Louis - Houston/San Antonio

1995 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; tri-weekly, St. Louis - San Antonio

1998 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; quad-weekly, St. Louis - San Antonio

2000 - daily, Chicago - San Antonio

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To answer the OP, IIRC, Amtrak's total ridership for 1972, its first full year of operation, was around 16 million, rising to around 22 million in 1979. Not sure of the breakdown between various segments...

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Amtrak ridership and passenger-miles, as listed in Amtrak: An American Story, plus 2011 ridership:

 

 

1971 - 6.45 M

1972 - 15.85 M; 3,038 M

1973 - 16.96 M; 3,806 M

1974 - 18.67 M; 4,258 M

1975 - 17.27 M; 3,939 M

1976 - 18.05 M; 4,155 M

1977 - 18.96 M; 4,333 M

1978 - 18.92 M; 4,029 M

1979 - 21.41 M; 4,915 M

1980 - 21.22 M; 4,582 M

1981 - 20.61 M; 4,762 M

1982 - 19.04 M; 4,172 M

1983 - 19.04 M; 4,246 M

1984 - 19.94 M; 4,552 M

1985 - 20.78 M; 4,825 M

1986 - 20.33 M; 5,013 M

1987 - 20.41 M; 5,221 M

1988 - 21.50 M; 5,678 M

1989 - 21.36 M; 5,859 M

1990 - 22.19 M; 6,057 M

1991 - 22.06 M; 6,273 M

1992 - 21.35 M; 6,091 M

1993 - 22.07 M; 6,199 M

1994 - 21.84 M; 5,921 M

1995 - 20.73 M; 5,545 M

1996 - 19.61 M; 5,050 M

1997 - 20.19 M; 5,166 M

1998 - 21.09 M; 5,304 M

1999 - 21.51 M; 5,330 M

2000 - 22.52 M; 5,498 M

2001 - 23.49 M; 5,559 M

2002 - 23.41 M; 5,468 M

2003 - 24.03 M; 5,503 M

2004 - 25.05 M; 5,558 M

2005 - 25.37 M; 5,420 M

2006 - 24.39 M; 5,362 M

2007 - 25.85 M; 5,562 M

2008 - 28.72 M; 6,160 M

2009 - 27.17 M; 5,898 M

2010 - 28.72 M; 6,332 M

2011 - 30.19 M

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As to the '79 cuts, part of it is that Amtrak's subsidy got crunched. There was also a "passengers per train" metric of some sort that was used to determine which trains got the axe, which meant that some trains that were selling out often (such as the National Limited) were cut because Amtrak lacked the equipment to expand them to meet the requirements. With that said, it is quite possible that the Floridian had suffered for long enough up until then that they were unable to get a ridership rebound in time to save the train.

When it comes to evaluating to cut a service, they may have looked at the numbers over the previous 2-3 complete fiscal year reports. If the National Limited had started to improve in 1978, the improvement may be too little to change the overall bottom line numbers.

 

The cuts as I understand it, the cuts were supposedly based on cost recovery numbers. Total ridership provides a very incomplete snapshot. Does not tell us the revenue mix - lot of short haul passengers paying less for tickets or long haul sleeper passengers providing more revenue. The biggest missing part of the picture is how much did it costs to run those trains at that time? Did the train have high crew costs because of inefficient routes or rules that resulted in more crew shifts than needed? Or high pending costs for the route because of decaying tracks and stations.

 

Still, looking at several of the 1977 and 1978 schedules, there are some interesting trains on there that I wonder how well they would do now (if the tracks were there, all in good condition): the Hilltopper for the interesting route, the Niagara Rainbow, the Shenandoah to Cincinnati. In many ways, in the eastern half of the US, Ohio suffered the biggest loss in passenger train service from the mid-1970s through the early 2000s.

 

The Shenandoah would be very good if it was still here today, IMO.

 

Amtrak ridership and passenger-miles, as listed in Amtrak: An American Story, plus 2011 ridership:

 

Very nice information, Eric. I am very interested in the big ridership increase from 1971-1972. This might be related to Amtrak starting only in May.

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The Cardinal variations over 1970s and 80s complicate any ridership comparisons. What would have been the typical consist and sleeper capacity back in those days?

There was such a great variation that I will just list a few specific configurations.

 

1971 - baggage, sleeper, diner-lounge, coach to Newport News; 2 coaches to Washington

 

1975 - baggage, sleeper, 2 coaches, lunch counter-diner-dorm to Washington; 1 coach to Newport News

 

1981 - baggage, sleeper, cafe, 4 coaches

 

1986 - baggage, diner, lounge, 2 sleepers, 7-8 coaches

 

1990 - baggage, slumbercoach, sleeper, diner, lounge, 4 coaches

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The Cardinal variations over 1970s and 80s complicate any ridership comparisons. What would have been the typical consist and sleeper capacity back in those days?

There was such a great variation that I will just list a few specific configurations.

 

1971 - baggage, sleeper, diner-lounge, coach to Newport News; 2 coaches to Washington

 

1975 - baggage, sleeper, 2 coaches, lunch counter-diner-dorm to Washington; 1 coach to Newport News

 

1981 - baggage, sleeper, cafe, 4 coaches

 

1986 - baggage, diner, lounge, 2 sleepers, 7-8 coaches

 

1990 - baggage, slumbercoach, sleeper, diner, lounge, 4 coaches

 

Wow, the Cardinal was really long in 1986, with up to thirteen cars. With all trains so long back then, I am now really interested in a Amtrak fleet roster before the Heritages were dumped.

 

I am still waiting for old Champion and SL ridership figures. LSL and BL figures would also be interesting.

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1990 - baggage, slumbercoach, sleeper, diner, lounge, 4 coaches

 

Yes, I remember that on my honeymoon in 1992 the City of New Orleans had some sort of dinette (I remember that the tray meals were vastly inferior to the proper diner meals on the Crescent), while the Cardinal did have a proper diner. Heritage sleepers, of course, on the all three trains, the Crescent, the City of New Orleans, and the Cardinal.

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Average passenger miles per passenger (i.e. average journey length):

1972: 191.67

1973: 224.41

1974: 228.07

1975: 228.08

1976: 230.19

1977: 228.53

1978: 212.95

1979: 229.57

1980: 215.93

1981: 231.05

1982: 219.12

1983: 223.00

1984: 228.28

1985: 232.19

1986: 246.63

1987: 255.81

1988: 264.09

1989: 274.30

1990: 272.96

1991: 284.36

1992: 285.29

1993: 280.88

1994: 271.11

1995: 267.49

1996: 257.52

1997: 255.87

1998: 251.49

1999: 247.79

2000: 244.14

2001: 236.65

2002: 233.58

2003: 229.01

2004: 221.88

2005: 213.64

2006: 219.84

2007: 215.16

2008: 214.48

2009: 217.08

2010: 220.47

 

Takeaway: Claytor sent LD ridership rising; Warrington seems to have done a good job of trashing it, and Gunn (I think) and Kummant did their best to knock it down further, though the cuts of the 90s of some of the LD trains certainly played a role here. The numbers in the 2000s are held down by the boom on the Acela (WAS-NYP is only 225 miles) and in state-supported corridors. However, towards the end there is a modest reversal of the trend (which accompanies a resurgence in the LD trains as the decade has gone on).

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I don't think I help those numbers very much :) Though I'm hoping that my EMY-DEN and CHI-BOS in the last year will help balance all of my corridor ridership out.

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The Shenandoah would be very good if it was still here today, IMO.

One problem is that CSX has abandoned significant portions of the route that was used by the Shenandoah between Cumberland and Cincinnati.

 

Incidentally, Shenandoah carried the famous Ampad

Still, looking at several of the 1977 and 1978 schedules, there are some interesting trains on there that I wonder how well they would do now (if the tracks were there, all in good condition): the Hilltopper for the interesting route, the Niagara Rainbow, the Shenandoah to Cincinnati.

 

The Hilltopper, while interesting, was maintained due to Congressman Harley Staggers (of Stagger's Act fame) and was variously called Harley's Hornet or Harley's Comet. It was a purely political train which arrived at its destination at 12:45am and departed at 5:30am, connecting to the Cardinal 8 hours after its arrival and 12 hours before its departure at Catlettsburg/Tri-State Station. It was sort of a poster child for everything that was wrong with Amtrak, a role played later by the Chicago - Janesville train.

 

At least theoretically the Cardinal could be rerouted via the Hilltopper's route between Lynchburg and Catlettsburg but it adds somewhere between 2.5 to 3.5 hours to its schedule and essentially makes it a two night service. It does however add service both east and westbound to Roanoke and Bluefield for what it is worth, and allows one to see a different part of the New River :)

 

Speaking of the Cardinal, it was actually cut in 1981, but then was restored as an unfunded mandate from Congress in early 1982.

 

1998 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; quad-weekly, St. Louis - San Antonio

 

This is from fuzzy memory, but was this also the period when there was 4 times a week service between San Antonio and Los Angeles? Or was it just after the Texas Eagle went daily, thanks to Senator Hutchinson? I seem to recall there was a brief period when there was a fourth frequency between San Antonio and Los Angeles.

 

Takeaway: Claytor sent LD ridership rising; Warrington seems to have done a good job of trashing it, and Gunn (I think) and Kummant did their best to knock it down further, though the cuts of the 90s of some of the LD trains certainly played a role here. The numbers in the 2000s are held down by the boom on the Acela (WAS-NYP is only 225 miles) and in state-supported corridors. However, towards the end there is a modest reversal of the trend (which accompanies a resurgence in the LD trains as the decade has gone on).

It would be interesting to see what the corresponding revenue per passenger mile works out to for each year.

Edited by jis

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1998 - daily, Chicago - St. Louis; quad-weekly, St. Louis - San Antonio

 

This is from fuzzy memory, but was this also the period when there was 4 times a week service between San Antonio and Los Angeles? Or was it just after the Texas Eagle went daily, thanks to Senator Hutchinson? I seem to recall there was a brief period when there was a fourth frequency between San Antonio and Los Angeles.

Yes, that's correct, when the Texas Eagle went to 4 days/week south of St. Louis, on the one of the four days when the Sunset Limited did not operate, the Texas Eagle provided the fourth weekly frequency between San Antonio and Los Angeles. I ignored the Los Angeles cars in my Texas Eagle descriptions, as I did not have complete information as to when those cars operated over the years.

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Average passenger miles per passenger (i.e. average journey length):

1992: 285.29

 

Looks like 1992 had the highest passenger miles per passenger. Despite the ridership increases, the LD ridership is not that high.

 

The Hilltopper, while interesting, was maintained due to Congressman Harley Staggers (of Stagger's Act fame) and was variously called Harley's Hornet or Harley's Comet. It was a purely political train which arrived at its destination at 12:45am and departed at 5:30am, connecting to the Cardinal 8 hours after its arrival and 12 hours before its departure at Catlettsburg/Tri-State Station. It was sort of a poster child for everything that was wrong with Amtrak, a role played later by the Chicago - Janesville train.

 

Why in the world would somebody run a passenger train to Catlettsburg? That just has no practical reason.

What is the Niagara Rainbow?

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