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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #1
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Default RailUK Fares & Ticketing Guide - Section 2 - Smart Cards (inc. Oyster)

Section 2 - Smart Cards (including Oyster)

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #2
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Default RailUK Fares & Ticketing Guide - Section 2 - Smart Cards (inc. Oyster)

2.1 Introduction to smart cards

Smart Cards are contactless credit-card sized plastic cards that can store pay as you go credit and/or pre-purchased tickets, which are validated by touching them on special readers. Most smartcards are not tickets in their own right, but a medium on which tickets can be stored.

Many smartcards use the ITSO standard, which is interoperable between operators (e.g. Go Ahead’s "The Key" card can be used on Stagecoach’s buses and vice versa). However due to business decisions, not all ITSO tickets can be loaded onto all ITSO cards.

All ITSO cards have the ITSO logo on the front or rear of the card, and the ITSO standard also supports NFC which will mean TOCs may offer ITSO products loadable onto mobile phones in the future.

Some smartcards, such as the Oyster card, do not follow the ITSO standard, but have their own proprietary systems instead.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #3
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2.1 Oyster

Introduction

Oyster is a cashless payment system accepted on most public transport in Greater London. An Oyster card can store up to £90 in credit for pay-as-you-go, a travelcard season ticket and a National Rail discount card. It can be used on buses, trams, the tube, DLR and National Rail services. You can buy them at tube stations, London Overground stations, some National Rail stations, Oyster Ticket Stops (shops). A £5 refundable deposit is required.

Each Oyster card communicates with Oyster readers (validators) when the card is touched (placed flat) on the reader. The card does not have to physically touch the reader as it uses near-range wireless so can communicate though wallets and ticket holders.

On buses you must touch in on the bus when boarding, while on trams you must touch in on a station reader just before boarding. You must not touch out on either buses or trams. On the tube, DLR and National Rail you must touch in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end so that the correct fare can be charged. Where gates are in operation your card will open the gates if it is valid. If the gates are not in operation you must still touch in or out, either on the gates if they are locked open or on yellow validators which can be used either for entry or exit. A valid card will change the orange light to green along with one beep for an adult card or more than two beeps for a child card. If there is a problem then the light will change to red and you will get two beeps.

The Oyster system charges a price per journey. A single journey can consist of travel by either a mix of National Rail, Underground, Overground and DLR, or alternatively a single other mode such as bus, provided that the gap between sections is reasonable.

Many thanks to MikeWh and his Oyster and National Rail website for information used in this section.

Last edited by Mojo; 22nd February 2015 at 15:10. Reason: New TfL phone number _
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2.1.1 Alternative routes

Sometimes there will be multiple available routes between some stations, which may be charged at different rates. You can look up the fares for a route with the Single Fare Finder. The umbrella term National Railcard is used to refer to all National Rail railcards (16-25, Senior etc) that can be loaded onto an Oyster. Click the Alternative fares button if it appears under the default fare after searching.

The default fare is charged if you do not pass through any gatelines at intermediate stations or touch any Route Validators (pink readers) en route, except where there are no routes that do not need intermediate touches. Touches at appropriate intermediate gatelines (for example when interchanging between National Rail and tube services) or when passing Route Validators will indicate to the system that you have taken an alternative route, and ensure that you are charged the relevant alternative fare.

If in doubt, always touch a Route Validator if you pass one, as there are no adverse effects for touching one when not necessary. You should not, however, touch a route validator if there is no need to change trains at the station you are passing through.

Where there are no intermediate gatelines or Route Validators en route for two different-priced routes, you will usually be given the benefit of the doubt and the default fare will be the lower of the two routes.

Note that alternative fares are only provided for routes that TfL consider reasonable, so whilst it might be possible to take a long route with many changes avoiding certain zones between two stations, if it is too complex, there will be no alternative fare will be available, and you will be charged the default fare irrespective of route taken.

more information

Last edited by ainsworth74; 22nd February 2015 at 15:11. Reason: updated
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #5
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2.1.2 Fares

The Oyster system has a morning (06:30-09:30) and evening (16:00-19:00) peak every day, except weekends and bank holidays, which are fully off-peak. A daily price cap operates between 04:30 am and 04:29 am the following morning, whereby the price you pay for journeys will be capped at the relevant (peak or off-peak) daily cap for the zones which you travel in. Any further travel after the cap has been reached will be free.

Note however, that journeys that have not been touched in and out properly at both ends do not count towards the daily cap and are always charged at the maximum fare; and that an Oyster card that reaches the daily cap does not become a Travelcard (such as for NRCoC 19)

Journeys are always charged according to the time of the first touch-in at the very first gateline, so an hour-long journey starting at 18:55 on a weekday will still be charged as peak.

There are some exceptions, notably that travel in the opposite direction to peak flows at peak time between Euston and Watford Junction is charged as off-peak, and travel to Zone 1 from other zones in the evening peak is charged as off-peak. More detailed information

Oyster fares do not just depend on the time of day and zones travelled through, but also the modes of transport as defined on this map:
  • TfL Rail - London Underground, DLR, London Overground and the National Rail services that are shown in green on the map
  • National Rail - All National Rail services on which Oyster is accepted
For each combination of zones there is a fare for travel wholly on TfL rail, a fare for travel wholly on National Rail and, for a Mixed Mode fare for journeys involving travel on both.

London Overground is a member of both groups: a LO + Tube journey will be charged as TfL Rail, whereas a LO + Other National Rail TOC journey will be charged as National Rail.

For journeys involving Zone 1, Mixed Mode fares are significantly higher than the other two. (For non-Zone 1 journeys it is the same as the National Rail rate). To find out the price of a journey, consult the TfL Single Fare Finder.

Last edited by ainsworth74; 22nd February 2015 at 15:13. Reason: updated single fare finder
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #6
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2.1.3 Out of Station Interchange (OSI)

Sometimes you can change between rail/tube modes without touching out and in (eg between National Rail and DLR at Greenwich), but usually it is necessary. The system is programmed with a number of such interchanges, and will join such journeys together to form a single journey. The time allowed varies dependent on the distance involved and the frequency of trains on the next leg. Thus an Underground to National Rail OSI will often allow more time than the opposite National Rail to Underground OSI, particularly if passengers usually wait on a concourse before touching back in until their train is advertised.

The Oyster Control Centre has the ability to set and remove Emergency OSIs in real time, to cater for short term station closures and some weekend engineering work. An EOSI will be set at a number of stations and will allow interchange between any of those stations within 30 minutes, including re-entering the same station.

Each combination of zones has a maximum journey time allowed. Sometimes multiple separate journeys are combined by OSIs into a single journey, which may then exceed the maximum journey time, thus being charged at the maximum fare and not counting towards the daily cap. This is more likely to happen if you make many journeys, with very few gaps between them. You can prevent OSIs from occurring by touching onto a bus between the rail legs, but note that for pay as you go users, you will be charged for a bus journey.

more information, including full OSI list

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #7
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2.1.4 Continuation Exits

There are a number of stations where it isn’t always obvious whether you should touch out or not using platform validators. Usually these validators were intended to start or end Oyster journeys without leaving the station because the overall journey continued using paper tickets on National Rail.

When you touch out at a standalone validator at one of these stations your fare is adjusted correctly as if you were leaving the Oyster system. Any further touches at that station (including at a gateline) will replicate the exit with no further deduction, as long as the second touch is within the maximum journey time from the station where you started your journey. If you continue on from that station by a different mode then when you exit at your final destination the balance is readjusted for the new end point.

There are two drawbacks to be aware of. Firstly, if there are no gates at the station then you must touch out using a validator if that is the end of your journey. However, it is impossible to touch back in to start another journey until the maximum journey time from the start of the first journey has elapsed. If you did not want to stay very long at one of these places then this could cause a problem.

Secondly there may be a problem with National Rail RPIs. The exit touch removes the maximum fare which is what the RPIs are looking for when they check the card using a hand-held reader. If at all possible you should only touch out and back in again at an interchange station if it is absolutely necessary, usually because one or both parts of the station are protected by gates.

More information

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #8
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2.1.5 Railcards and Discounts

Holders of certain National Rail railcards can have their entitlement registered on their Oyster card. This then gives them 1/3 off the price of single off-peak Underground, National Rail and DLR fares and the off-peak price cap. Remember that the off-peak cap applies during the evening peak between 1600-1900. There are no discounts for bus or tram journeys. The railcards which can be linked to an Oyster card are:
  • 16-25 Railcard
  • Disabled Railcard†
  • Annual Gold Card
  • HM Forces Railcard
  • Senior Railcard

†Disabled Railcard holders can have the 1/3 discount added, but this will apply at any time, not just off-peak.

The Gold Card discount isn't automatically applied to Annual Travelcards when bought, so ensure that the clerk sets it.

Note also that while the railcard will only discount the purchase of zone 1-6 and 1-9 paper travelcards, on Oyster you also get reductions on the zone 1-2 and 1-4 caps as well.

A railcard holder holder may be able to save money on a single journey in the evening peak with a paper ticket, as the railcard discount could be used, whereas it wouldn't if using Oyster. (e.g. A Zone 2 only short London Overground journey).

If you have a Family and Friends Railcard then it is often cheaper to use it, along with paper tickets, rather than use individual Oyster cards. You can use the railcard after 09.30 Mon-Fri, plus anytime weekends and public holidays (more information)

More Oyster railcard information

TfL also offer some dedicated concessionary Oyster cards:
  • 18+ Student - gives students aged 18 or over with a London term-time address 30 per cent off the price of adult rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes
  • 16+ Oyster - allows 16-18* year olds to buy child rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram passes, half price adult fares on bus and TfL Rail travel. If living in a London borough and in full-time education, the holder also gets free bus and tram travel
  • 11-15 Zip Oyster - allows 11-16* year olds free travel on buses and trams, child rates for Travelcards, TfL/National Rail fares and Emirates Air Line
  • 5-10 Zip Oyster - allows unaccompanied 5-10 year olds and those that look older than 10 to travel free on TfL rail routes. The card is not necessary for free travel on buses or trams or when travelling with an adult, but is required to get child fares on non-TfL National Rail routes.
  • Apprentice Oyster Card - allows those aged 18 or above who live in a London borough and are in the first 12 months of a qualifying SASE-compliant apprenticeship to get a 30% discount on the price of adult-rate Travelcard and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets.
  • 60+ Oyster card - allows those aged 60 or over who live in a London borough to travel free on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London. Not to be confused with a Freedom Pass
* dependent on their academic year at the upper age

Last edited by yorkie; 27th May 2015 at 20:53. Reason: updated
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #9
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2.1.6 Topping Up

An Oyster card can be purchased for a refundable £5 deposit (£3 non-refundable for the Visitor Oyster card). You can then top up the pay as you go credit in a few ways:

Auto Top-up - Using the Oyster website, you can specify a credit/debit card that will be billed by an amount of your choice automatically whenever you touch to start a journey with a balance of less than £10 on your Oyster card. This will then be credited to your Oyster card. You will need to collect the very first top-up at the station you chose online, by touching as usual at the very beginning of a normal journey to activate the Auto Top-up.

Manual Top-up
You can also manually top up your Oyster card, at:
  • Oyster ticket stop shops - usually corner shops and newsagents
  • Tube, Overground, DLR and some National Rail stations
  • Online on the Oyster website.
Station ticket offices will only do top-ups of at least £5 at the counter, so for top-ups of under £5, you will have to use the ticket machines. This requirement is usually waived if topping up with a compensation voucher.

National Rail TOCs' Rail Travel Vouchers can be used to buy Oyster Pay as you go credit at Underground stations. RTVs are called NR Travel Voucher in the clerk's machine, as detailed in page 33 of the internal Ticketing & Revenue Book 5.

When topping up on the Oyster website, you will need to collect your top-up at a designated station, by touching as usual at the very beginning or end of a normal journey.

Any online top-ups that are not collected in time from the specified station are usually refunded to your card automatically.

More information

Last edited by Mojo; 22nd February 2015 at 15:17. Reason: updated
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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #10
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2.1.7 Travelcards

A Travelcard is a ticket valid for specified TfL zones. Travelcards valid for a week or longer are also season tickets. All Oyster cards except Visitor Oyster cards can have Travelcards loaded onto them. As of 2013, the Oyster daily cap is cheaper a paper Travelcard (Day Travelcards cannot be purchased on Oyster).

Travelcards give unlimited travel on tube and rail services within the specified zones, and on buses in all zones. Travelcard holders do not need to touch in or out of stations for journeys wholly within their Travelcard zones, but must still touch in and out at both ends of journeys beyond their zones, or to operate gatelines.

Just like with paper season tickets that are issued in and and have validity in NSE area, annual Oyster Travelcards are also Gold Cards, and come with a paper Gold Record Card to prove this.

Unlike with paper Travelcards, with Oyster you can make a journey partially within your Travelcard zones using a combination of a Travelcard and pay as you go, only paying for the additional part, similar to NRCoC 19(c), and you will also not need to get off the train at the changeover point.

Thus if you have a Zone 2-4 Travelcard and travel into Zone 1 one evening you only pay for zone 1 single fares*. With paper you would be charged from the last zone 2 station. If you want to travel from Zone 5 to Zone 1 with a Zone 2-4 Travelcard it will charge you the cheaper of two methods: either a Zone 5 single and a Zone 1 single; or a Zone 5-1 single (as if you didn’t have a Travelcard).

* Note that there is a special arrangement when you hold a Travelcard covering Zone 2 and you make a through NR+TfL journey covering Zone 1. Rather than Zone 1 Mixed Mode fare you will be charged the lower TfL Rail Zone 1 fare.

Oyster will charge you based on the whole journey you make, not just on the portion outside of your zones. So, if you have a Zones 1-2 Travelcard and start at Stratford (Zone 3) using the Jubilee line to Waterloo, then National Rail to Wandsworth Town in Zone 2 it will charge you for a Zone 3 in Mixed Mode journey, even if your Zone 3 travel was only on TfL. This could be a significant difference in price for a peak journey. You can force a long journey to be split into two journeys by touching on a bus midway through (as all bus travel is free for Travelcard holders).

Weekly or longer Oyster Travelcards are just as valid as other season tickets for travel on National Rail services for the purposes of NRCoC 19(c), regardless of whether the TOC has the equipment to verify them. Paper Travelcard boundary extensions are also available to many National Rail stations, particularly (but not limited to) those in the NSE area

More information

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:32   #11
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2.1.8 Same station exits

Sometimes it is necessary to touch out at a station without actually making a journey (e.g. in times of disruption). The Oyster system reacts in one of three different ways depending on how much time has elapsed between touch in and touch out. The following charges do not apply if the same station exit occurs at a station within the zones of an Oyster Travelcard that you hold.

Between 0 and 2 minutes

This could happen if you immediately discover that there is disruption, or if the display on the gate says that you do not have enough credit to complete your intended journey and you decide to exit again to top-up. The maximum fare will remain deducted from the card and this will not count towards the daily cap. However, if you re-enter within 45 minutes the maximum fare is refunded and a new journey is started. The touch out must be at a ticket gate (ie you had to touch out to open the gate). The new journey can be at the same station or at another one, but you cannot use the card on a bus or tram prior to re-entering

Between 2 and 30 minutes

In this instance the system will charge the cheapest single fare from that station at the time of touch in. Usually that will be a single zone fare, but it can be higher if the station is the only one on it’s line in that zone. This charge will count towards the daily cap.

More than 30 minutes

The system assumes that you have made two incomplete journeys and charges you accordingly. Neither journey counts towards the daily cap.

These charges are levied to discourage fare evasion. If there is a genuine reason for making a same station exit then you will probably be eligible for a refund of the extra charges. If the station has full Oyster facilities (i.e. most Underground stations when the ticket office is open) then you may be able to get the credit immediately, otherwise call the helpdesk for assistance.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:33   #12
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2.1.9 When not to use Oyster

Whilst in most cases Oyster is the easiest and cheapest means to travel, there are certain circumstances where a paper ticket (usually a Day Travelcard) is either cheaper or more appropriate:

When exploring many rail lines - Oyster expects a gap between journeys, otherwise it may join multiple journeys together (possibly using OSIs) and you may exceed the maximum journey time allowed for travel between the very first and last stations of your multi-journey, resulting in a maximum fare being charged that doesn't count towards your daily cap, even if you have an Oyster Travelcard.

When travelling as a family - It is not possible to offer the discounts available with a Family and Friends Railcard when using Oyster. Most off peak and especially afternoon peak travel will be cheaper using the railcard and paper tickets.

When travelling as a group - Off-peak paper day Travelcards are available with large discounts if 10 or more people are travelling together.

In the afternoon peak with a railcard - Oyster has an evening peak during which railcard discounts are not applied, but railcard discounts are valid in the evening on paper tickets. If you only plan to use trains in the afternoon peak and not enough to trigger the price cap, it may be cheaper to use your railcard and paper tickets instead. But remember that the cheaper zones 1-2 and 1-4 caps are fully discounted on Oyster with a railcard attached, while only the 1-6 and 1-9 paper travelcards can be discounted. A discounted 1-6 travelcard is still cheaper than a full price 1-2 or 1-4, but more expensive than the Oyster discounted equivalent.

In the afternoon peak to/from zone 6 - If you make a return journey where touch in for both legs is in the afternoon peak and you travel between zone 6 and another zone not including zone 1 then it may be cheaper to buy off-peak return tickets from the first station outside zone 6.

To allow Break of Journey - Most National Rail paper tickets valid within the London zones allow Break of Journey on the rail legs; whereas Break of Journey is not allowed on Oyster except shortly for OSIs

more information

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:33   #13
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2.1.10 Buses, Trams, Wimbledon and Elmers End

Unlike National Rail, Underground and DLR you only need to touch in when using Oyster on buses and trams. This is because there is only one flat fare wherever you go, regardless of whether you travel one stop or the whole length of the route. On buses you touch in as you enter. On trams you should touch in on the tramstop just before boarding the tram. After touching in at the tramstop you have 70 minutes to board a tram before the touch in becomes invalid. If you only use buses and trams in one day then a special lower price cap applies. The fourth journey is at a reduced rate and all subsequent journeys are free.

If you have any Travelcard on your Oyster then travel on buses in any zone is free. On trams the Travelcard must cover at least one of zones 3, 4, 5 or 6 for free travel to apply. If your Travelcard will cover the journey, you still need to touch in on buses, and also on trams if you are travelling to and from Wimbledon.

Wimbledon
The tramstop at Wimbledon is actually within the National Rail/District Line station. This means that special care needs to be taken when using trams to/from Wimbledon. When you leave the station the ticket gates need to see either a tram touch-in or a normal rail/tube touch in. If one is not present then a maximum fare will be deducted. You must exit via an automatic gate and not use the manual gate at the side because the reader alongside will assume you're entering the station, not exiting.

If you are travelling from Wimbledon then you need to touch-in at the gateline to get into the station. This will deduct a maximum fare in the usual way. Just before boarding the tram you should touch in again at the tram reader on platform 10 next to the tram stop. This will adjust the maximum fare so that you are charged the tram single fare.

Elmers End
The tramstop at Elmers End is within the National Rail station. There are no gates here, just the usual entry/exit validators, so you need to remember a few simple rules:
  • When starting a journey by tram you must only touch in on the tram boarding validator on platform 1. Do NOT use the validators next to the entry doors or gates as they will deduct a maximum rail fare.
  • When finishing a journey by tram you do not need to touch out at all. If you do you will be charged a maximum rail fare.
  • If you are switching between train and tram your rail journey will be ended when touching in on the tram boarding validator on platform 1.
  • If you are switching between tram and train you need to touch in on the validators next to the entry doors or gates. You must not use the tram boarding validator on platform 1 as that will start another tram journey instead of a rail journey.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:33   #14
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2.2 Contactless Credit/Debit Card

TfL have recently introduced payment by contactless credit/debit card on buses, DLR, National Rail and London Underground services.

Your card must be issued in the UK and have the following symbol printed on it:

Touch your contactless credit/debit card on the readers as you would an Oyster card. You must show your card to an inspector when asked.

Daily capping works in the same way as with Oyster, and weekly capping also applied, with weeks starting on a Monday and ending on a Sunday. You cannot load Travelcards or railcard discounts onto a contactless credit/debit card, so if you are a railcard holder, you may find it cheaper to continue to use an Oyster card.

If you have a contactless debit/credit card and also an Oyster card, do not touch them both at the same time, because it may fail, or worse, you could end up touching in with one card and out with another, and be charged two maximum journey fares.

From time to time your card issuer may require that you enter your PIN as a security check. If this happens when you are on a bus you will not be to use your contactless payment card for your journey, as the readers have no Chip+PIN terminal.

Therefore, you should always carry a spare contactless payment card, Oyster card or cash (note that cash is not accepted at all on buses any more). You will need to make a Chip+PIN transaction at a different retailer before you can make further contactless card payments.

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Old 23rd December 2012, 01:33   #15
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2.3 The key (ITSO)

The key is a smartcard that can hold monthly or longer season tickets on some Southern and London Midland routes where they are the only TOC running services. It can be purchased from Southern online, London Midland online or from Southern telesales on 08451 27 29 20. A child version is also available. The key is accepted by FCC and FGW on some routes.

Tickets purchased on smartcards will always be the same price or cheaper then the equivalent paper ticket, and the gates do not allow break of journey, but gateline staff will manually allow break of journey. The key does not currently support pay as you go. Unlike paper or Oyster season tickets, you must touch in and out at the start and end of every journey.

Season tickets on the key can be loaded onto a new card if the old one is lost, with the old card being blocked by the TOC (unlike paper season tickets which it is difficult to get a second replacement for - see NRCoC 34)

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