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Roundabout

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Roundabout
Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 5:30 PM

    I've wondered before about rail cars taking the long way to get to our lumber yard. Can someone explain this odd routing?

     A carload of lumber came from Washington on the BNSF through ND. After going to Minneapolis MN and back, this particular car went from Willmar MN to Sioux City IA. From there it's going to Lincoln NE by way of Ashland NE. Then it going to Fremont NE by way of Ashland NE. After that it's going to Sioux City IA in order to get back up to SD, where it's already been once. That's an extra 294 miles to take the scenic route through eastern Nebraska. Any thoughts on a logical reason for this?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 5:47 PM

Murphy Siding
    I've wondered before about rail cars taking the long way to get to our lumber yard. Can someone explain this odd routing?


     A carload of lumber came from Washington on the BNSF through ND. After going to Minneapolis MN and back, this particular car went from Willmar MN to Sioux City IA. From there it's going to Lincoln NE by way of Ashland NE. Then it going to Fremont NE by way of Ashland NE. After that it's going to Sioux City IA in order to get back up to SD, where it's already been once. That's an extra 294 miles to take the scenic route through eastern Nebraska. Any thoughts on a logical reason for this?

I can't speak to the specifics of lumber coming to your facility over BNSF - as I don't know the specifics of their operating plan and how your facility fits into it.

When I was working on CSX BEFORE PSR came into effect.  Cars originating in Baltimore and destined to Richmond and other locations in the South were switched into a Cumberland block along with all other West and South cars.  Cumberland would do the switching with the West cars going West in appropriate trains and the South cars being switched into trains that were destined to Rocky Mount or Hamlet as appropriate with one of those trains carrying a Richmond block to be set off at Acca Yard in Richmond.

As a geographical move Baltimore to Richmond is about 130 mile.  Baltimore to Cumberland is 178 miles and Cumberland to Richmond is about 288 miles.  So the South cars from Baltimore were hauled well over an additional 250 miles.

The 'theory' was that Yard Crews in Baltimore were being minimized to the extent that SAVINGS were being made in not operating the Baltimore Yard crews and the switching in Cumberland did not occasion any additional crews.

I was not the bean counter and I have no idea if the 'reasons' proffered actually enhanced the bottom line.

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Posted by York1 on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 6:15 PM

Murphy Siding
From there it's going to Lincoln NE by way of Ashland NE. Then it going to Fremont NE by way of Ashland NE. After that it's going to Sioux City IA in order to get back up to SD, where it's already been once. That's an extra 294 miles to take the scenic route through eastern Nebraska. Any thoughts on a logical reason for this?

 

The area around Ashland, Nebraska, is beautiful in Autumn.  The train crews will appreciate this route.Laugh

I have no idea how certain cars are combined for the deliveries.  I wonder if this is anything like UPS and FedEx?  If I send a package to a town 30 miles away, the package goes first to Louisville, Kentucky, 750 miles away, and then back to town.  It's much more efficient than trying to get every single package to every single city without going to some kind of hub first. 

My kids say they want a cat for Christmas.  Normally I do a turkey but hey, if it'll make 'em happy ...

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 8:15 PM

BaltACD
I was not the bean counter and I have no idea if the 'reasons' proffered actually enhanced the bottom line.

 

It all depends on what account is being charged. And who has the power to allocate the costs.

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Posted by Convicted One on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 8:44 PM

Murphy Siding
After going to Minneapolis MN and back, this particular car went from Willmar MN to Sioux City IA. From there it's going to Lincoln NE by way of Ashland NE. Then it going to Fremont NE by way of Ashland NE. After that it's going to Sioux City IA in order to get back up to SD, where it's already been once. That's an extra 294 miles to take the scenic route through eastern Nebraska. Any thoughts on a logical reason for this?

I'll bet Eduardo Moreno knows, but you wanted him silenced!  Devil

Just an uneducated guess, but I suspect it has something to do with cutting work hours. perhaps someone decided that a more direct route consumed more dedicated time to switching or  local crew hours than the route ultimately used? 

Maybe there was a cut of cars in Nebraska that was destined to another customer near you, and some computer determined that putting your load on the same local as those other cars shaved manhours?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 9:47 PM

Just to clarify, most of our cars coming from the PNW or Canada go to Sioux City, then back up north to us. 

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Posted by greyhounds on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 10:44 PM

Murphy Siding
Just to clarify, most of our cars coming from the PNW or Canada go to Sioux City, then back up north to us. 

Yes.  There’s a real possibility that the car in question was just mishandled.  It was a mistake.  And you try to avoid mistakes.  But they’re going to happen.
 
It’s just best to learn from the mistake and try to prevent it from happening again.
"By many measures, the U.S. freight rail system is the safest, most efficient and cost effective in the world." - Federal Railroad Administration, October, 2009. I'm just your average, everyday, uncivilized howling "anti-government" critic of mass government expenditures for "High Speed Rail" in the US. And I'm gosh darn proud of that.
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Posted by dpeltier on Thursday, October 14, 2021 6:51 AM

Murphy Siding

A carload of lumber came from Washington on the BNSF through ND. After going to Minneapolis MN and back, this particular car went from Willmar MN to Sioux City IA. From there it's going to Lincoln NE by way of Ashland NE. Then it going to Fremont NE by way of Ashland NE. After that it's going to Sioux City IA in order to get back up to SD, where it's already been once. That's an extra 294 miles to take the scenic route through eastern Nebraska. Any thoughts on a logical reason for this?

Manifest traffic from Northtown yard in Minneapolis to points southwest, and vice versa, rides on a pair of Northtown <-> Lincoln trains. You said that the cars usually don't go south of Sioux City. That likely means that Northtown builds a block of cars destined for Sioux City, which the H-NTWLIN will set out there before continuing on. In this case, either Northtown didn't build that block, your car didn't get put in that block, or the train was unable to make the setout, so your car continued to Lincoln, passing through Fremont and Ashland on the way.

The hump yard at Lincoln presumably then put it in a Sioux City block, which got setout from the next H-LINNTW, then delivered to Sioux Falls.

Dan

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:28 AM

Carriers Operating Plans on how the move cars to get to secondary, tertiary and quadrennial level destinations - may not make any sense to individuals outside the carrier.  It will make sense, at least, to whom created the operating plan.

It would be even more interesting to view the Operating Plans of UPS and FedEx to see the routing plan an decision points in how they move their business between the far flung Origins and the equally far flung Destinations.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, October 14, 2021 7:30 AM

dpeltier
 
Murphy Siding

A carload of lumber came from Washington on the BNSF through ND. After going to Minneapolis MN and back, this particular car went from Willmar MN to Sioux City IA. From there it's going to Lincoln NE by way of Ashland NE. Then it going to Fremont NE by way of Ashland NE. After that it's going to Sioux City IA in order to get back up to SD, where it's already been once. That's an extra 294 miles to take the scenic route through eastern Nebraska. Any thoughts on a logical reason for this?

 

 

Manifest traffic from Northtown yard in Minneapolis to points southwest, and vice versa, rides on a pair of Northtown <-> Lincoln trains. You said that the cars usually don't go south of Sioux City. That likely means that Northtown builds a block of cars destined for Sioux City, which the H-NTWLIN will set out there before continuing on. In this case, either Northtown didn't build that block, your car didn't get put in that block, or the train was unable to make the setout, so your car continued to Lincoln, passing through Fremont and Ashland on the way.

The hump yard at Lincoln presumably then put it in a Sioux City block, which got setout from the next H-LINNTW, then delivered to Sioux Falls.

Dan

 

That makes sense. Although, looking at the trip plan on our BNSF portal, it looks like that routing was laid out about 3 weeks ago. Greyhounds probably hit it correctly about being a mistake. I suppose current technology allows you to type in endpoint addresses and just hit a button and move on.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, October 14, 2021 11:52 AM

I see the same thing frequently on the iron horse of a different color. 

I'll see cars for an intermediate yard in a big block, then some stragglers mixed in at different points in the train.  The large block gets set out, but the stragglers get set out where ever the block they happened to be in gets set out. 

They aren't going to dig out the stragglers because of the time involved.  Also you can only set out and/or pick up one solid block of cars.  Picking up and/or setting out two or more solid blocks and the whole train requires a new initial terminal air test. 

Sometimes, because of hazmat and the need for buffer cars, they may hold onto cars scheduled for set out because they need buffer cars when the engine goes back to the train.

Sometimes intermediate work will be "high balled" (passed up) because either the train crew is short on time or the intermediate point has no room for the cars. 

Mishandling comes in a lot of flavors.

Jeff 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, October 14, 2021 12:38 PM

jeffhergert
I see the same thing frequently on the iron horse of a different color. 

I'll see cars for an intermediate yard in a big block, then some stragglers mixed in at different points in the train.  The large block gets set out, but the stragglers get set out where ever the block they happened to be in gets set out. 

They aren't going to dig out the stragglers because of the time involved.  Also you can only set out and/or pick up one solid block of cars.  Picking up and/or setting out two or more solid blocks and the whole train requires a new initial terminal air test. 

Sometimes, because of hazmat and the need for buffer cars, they may hold onto cars scheduled for set out because they need buffer cars when the engine goes back to the train.

Sometimes intermediate work will be "high balled" (passed up) because either the train crew is short on time or the intermediate point has no room for the cars. 

Mishandling comes in a lot of flavors.

Jeff 

When the CSX Atlanta Division was my working territory in the early 1990's, we would get a 'run through' from the BNSF in Birmingham destined Waycross that was supposed to have a block for Atlanta that was scheduled to be set off a LaGrange, GA for pick up by a train operating on the A&WP Sub to pick up and carry on to Tilford Yard in Atlanta.  BNSF didn't always get all the Atlanta cars into the Atlanta block and in look through the trains entire consist you would see a half dozen or more Atlanta cars scattered through the Waycross block.

I don't know enough about the BNSF operation to really make a educated comment.  My suspecession is that where the train originated on BNSF they only built the Waycross CSX block; somewhere in route the train picked up a complete Atlanta block.  

Operating Plans for carriers, to those not involved with them on a daily basis can look like they make no sense.

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Posted by Convicted One on Friday, October 15, 2021 3:20 PM

Murphy Siding
Just to clarify, most of our cars coming from the PNW or Canada go to Sioux City, then back up north to us. 

Just out of curiosity, in your estimation how many miles were added to  the delivery as a result of the circuitous routing you mention?

 

Jeff's explanation about "stragglers" pretty well summarizes what I was thinking.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, October 15, 2021 5:15 PM

Convicted One

 

 
Murphy Siding
Just to clarify, most of our cars coming from the PNW or Canada go to Sioux City, then back up north to us. 

 

Just out of curiosity, in your estimation how many miles were added to  the delivery as a result of the circuitous routing you mention?

 

Jeff's explanation about "stragglers" pretty well summarizes what I was thinking.

 

I calculated and extra 194 miles. 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, October 15, 2021 6:33 PM

Murphy's car seems to be one of accidental mishandling, for whatever reason.

I've seen, because I like reading the train lists of manifests - what they have, where they are going, cars seemingly going way out of the way because that's the plan.

I had a manifest with a lumber car going to a point near Sioux Falls SD on the BNSF.  I thought it might be going to Murphy's facility.  It turned out to be going to a nearby competitor when I looked up where Murphy's place is located.  The train was out of North Platte, although the car probably originated in the Pacific Northwest.  The routing was to the BNSF via the BRC (Belt Railway of Chicago) Clearing IL yard.

Now we interchange at Council Bluffs/Omaha with the BNSF.  We interchange even closer at Sioux City IA.  Interchanging via Clearing and the BRC adds about 1000 +/- miles to the move.  Five hundred miles CB/Omaha to Chicago and then 500 miles back to CB/Omaha (actually the car will go to Lincoln before heading north) on the BNSF.

Could there me a rational reason for a routing like that?  Sure, but I'm hard pressed to see it.  I know since Stagger's a lot of former interchange points were closed, many physically removed.  But still, that extra 1000 miles seems out of place when they always are looking for more effeciencies.

Jeff       

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Posted by Convicted One on Friday, October 15, 2021 7:55 PM

Murphy Siding
I calculated and extra 194 miles

Funny how IF the extra 194 miles had been part of your requirements, they would have been sure to charge you for it. But as it stands I guess it was just a "bonus"...(quote marks to indicate sarcasm) Wink

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Posted by Convicted One on Friday, October 15, 2021 8:02 PM

jeffhergert
Murphy's car seems to be one of accidental mishandling

 

Is that the kind of mistake that would get called out? (eg a heated "how could you let this happen") Or is it inevitable to the point where it's just written off as a bad experience that everyone hopes it doesn't repeat itself?

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, October 15, 2021 8:31 PM

Convicted One
 
jeffhergert
Murphy's car seems to be one of accidental mishandling 

Is that the kind of mistake that would get called out? (eg a heated "how could you let this happen") Or is it inevitable to the point where it's just written off as a bad experience that everyone hopes it doesn't repeat itself?

When it comes to switching cars - S..t Happens.  Move on and get the next move right.

In today's world of railroading - there are no clerks to check tracks in the yard.  Trains are 'video checked' (video is a misnomer as the system uses RFID) upon arrival and upon departure.  What happens in the yard, happens.  Yardmaster marked the car to go to Track 17, switch crew made a mistake and switched it to Track 15.  When either Track 17 or Track 15 departs the yard the mistake will be discovered - discovered but not fixable at the time of discovery.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, October 15, 2021 10:25 PM

jeffhergert

Murphy's car seems to be one of accidental mishandling, for whatever reason.

I've seen, because I like reading the train lists of manifests - what they have, where they are going, cars seemingly going way out of the way because that's the plan.

I had a manifest with a lumber car going to a point near Sioux Falls SD on the BNSF.  I thought it might be going to Murphy's facility.  It turned out to be going to a nearby competitor when I looked up where Murphy's place is located.  The train was out of North Platte, although the car probably originated in the Pacific Northwest.  The routing was to the BNSF via the BRC (Belt Railway of Chicago) Clearing IL yard.

Now we interchange at Council Bluffs/Omaha with the BNSF.  We interchange even closer at Sioux City IA.  Interchanging via Clearing and the BRC adds about 1000 +/- miles to the move.  Five hundred miles CB/Omaha to Chicago and then 500 miles back to CB/Omaha (actually the car will go to Lincoln before heading north) on the BNSF.

Could there me a rational reason for a routing like that?  Sure, but I'm hard pressed to see it.  I know since Stagger's a lot of former interchange points were closed, many physically removed.  But still, that extra 1000 miles seems out of place when they always are looking for more effeciencies.

Jeff       

 

Glad to see you had a hand in helping me keep ahead of my competition. Wink As I see it, our car took the scenic route because someone pushed a wrong button 3-4 weeks ago. The detour was mapped out when it left Washington. 

      We had a car a couple years ago that came from Washington to Omaha, but forgot to take a left turn. It did a serious tour of scenic Iowa before finally making it to our yard. For some unknown reason it got pushed into a propane company siding 15 miles from us and rested for about a week.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, October 15, 2021 10:28 PM

Convicted One

 

 
jeffhergert
Murphy's car seems to be one of accidental mishandling

 

 

Is that the kind of mistake that would get called out? (eg a heated "how could you let this happen") Or is it inevitable to the point where it's just written off as a bad experience that everyone hopes it doesn't repeat itself?

 

Meh, I work in th construction industry. Every day sh...tuff happens, and you just deal with it. It's an industry that's not kind to perfectionists.

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, October 16, 2021 12:58 AM

Murphy Siding
Meh, I work in th construction industry. Every day sh...tuff happens, and you just deal with it. It's an industry that's not kind to perfectionists

Some organizations are funny in that regard.  An outfit I put in almost 30 years with were sticklers for getting to the very root of even the smallest ordeal. I think they had some idea that by sifting through the ashes they might prevent XXXX  from ever happening again.

I had enough organizational goodwill that I didn't have to worry about my job security, so on a number of occasions I would just take the blame to get the inquisition over with.

But, we were not a company looking for reasons to fire people. I get the impression  from discussions here that the railroads often are that way.

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, October 16, 2021 1:03 AM

I think our owner had the view that small problems have simple solutions. But that the more opaque a problem might be, the more obsessed he was in finding the elusive root.  Those of us with serious time used to chuckle among ourselves how intense the fires sometimes burned.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, October 16, 2021 7:04 AM

Convicted One
 
Murphy Siding
Meh, I work in th construction industry. Every day sh...tuff happens, and you just deal with it. It's an industry that's not kind to perfectionists 

Some organizations are funny in that regard.  An outfit I put in almost 30 years with were sticklers for getting to the very root of even the smallest ordeal. I think they had some idea that by sifting through the ashes they might prevent XXXX  from ever happening again.

I had enough organizational goodwill that I didn't have to worry about my job security, so on a number of ocassions I would just take the blame to get the inquisition over with.

But, we were not a company looking for reasons to fire people. I get the impressionn  from discussions here that the railroads often are that way.

Different carriers had differnt cultures.  When I was working with CSX the 'story' making the rounds was that no one was 'true' NS employee until they had been fired at least once.  YMMV.

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, October 16, 2021 9:39 AM

BaltACD
Different carriers had differnt cultures.

Some of the stories we've heard here, such as the guy getting fired  just for taking his engine around a wye that he wasn't "qualified" for, even though he was instructed to do so by a superior...doesn't really paint a picture of tolerance. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, October 16, 2021 9:45 AM

Convicted One
 
BaltACD
Different carriers had differnt cultures. 

Some of the stories we've heard here, such as the guy getting fired  just for taking his engine around a wye that he wasn't "qualified" for, even though he was instructed to do so by a superior...doesn't really paint a picture of tolerance. 

As I said - Different carriers, different cultures.  On some carriers that was a firing offense, other carriers might discipline the Supervisor that instructed the crew to do it.  Other carriers might take no notice of the transgression at all.

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, October 16, 2021 9:48 AM

Well, I guess for the ones who get fired, there is some consolation in knowing that there is always a job in construction waiting for them? Whistling

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Posted by jeffhergert on Sunday, October 17, 2021 4:29 AM

Convicted One

Well, I guess for the ones who get fired, there is some consolation in knowing that there is always a job in construction waiting for them? Whistling

 

Getting fired on the railroad isn't always the same as getting fired elsewhere.  Usually getting fired is more like being suspended without pay for a period of time.  That time period varies with the offense and if there is a Federally required specific time period.

Getting fired too often could lead to a permanent dismissal but again, depending on the offenses, doesn't happen that often.

There are some managers who feel that the climb to the top requires writing people up for as much as possible.  It's actually gotten better for us in that regard.  The culture has changed a bit for the better, maybe because many of the old school managers have retired.  Maybe because there aren't as many managers left after the PSR purges. 

Jeff

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, October 17, 2021 7:37 AM

jeffhergert
 
Convicted One

Well, I guess for the ones who get fired, there is some consolation in knowing that there is always a job in construction waiting for them? Whistling 

Getting fired on the railroad isn't always the same as getting fired elsewhere.  Usually getting fired is more like being suspended without pay for a period of time.  That time period varies with the offense and if there is a Federally required specific time period.

Getting fired too often could lead to a permanent dismissal but again, depending on the offenses, doesn't happen that often.

There are some managers who feel that the climb to the top requires writing people up for as much as possible.  It's actually gotten better for us in that regard.  The culture has changed a bit for the better, maybe because many of the old school managers have retired.  Maybe because there aren't as many managers left after the PSR purges. 

Jeff

Many if not most railroad labor agreements have some sort of clause that limits maximum discipline suspensions to to 30 days or so.  The carriers in certain instances view the 30 days as a insuficient level of discipline for the particular transgression - thus employees get terminated.

Terminations create additional work for the Local Chairmen of the unions as the have to undertake the work of getting the employee reinstated.  The 'reinstatement process' has multiple step both within the carrier and with external labor boards.  Sometimes the employee is reinstated by the carrier after 6 months or so; sometimes the carrier will continue to fight reinstatement through various labor boards.  Many, but not all, employees that have been terminated are ultimately reinstated - in some cases with some level of back pay.  In most all cases the reinstated employees have their seniority continued without impairment.

Some are terminated with finality and never get reinstated.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, October 17, 2021 3:20 PM

Convicted One

Well, I guess for the ones who get fired, there is some consolation in knowing that there is always a job in construction waiting for them? Whistling

 

Well, the world needs ditch diggers too! Mischief

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, October 17, 2021 4:16 PM

jeffhergert
There are some managers who feel that the climb to the top requires writing people up for as much as possible.  It's actually gotten better for us in that regard.  The culture has changed a bit for the better, maybe because many of the old school managers have retired.  Maybe because there aren't as many managers left after the PSR purges. 

The old school managers I had just ripped you a new one, but an hour later, everything was fine.  The newer ones are the ones that instantly want to take everything to official discipline levels. 

As far as number of managers?  We must have missed that day in PSR school - it seems like we have more than ever. 

   The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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