BR era special ticket offers

AY1975

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Apologies if there's already a thread on this, but following on from the long-running thread on present day special offers at https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/special-offers-discussion.42163/ I thought it would be nice to have a thread on BR era special offers (or past special offers from the privatised era).

Here are a few that I can remember:

In the early 1980s there was some kind of offer for free rail tickets for accompanied children where you had to collect tokens from Kellogg's cereal packets. I was a kid then, and I'm fairly sure that my parents and I made use of that offer.

I believe that there was some kind of special offer in the late 1970s or early '80s where you had to collect tokens on Persil packets. I think we may have used that offer too.

Pretty much all through the 1980s BR used to offer senior citizens special cheap fares every November. We lived in London, and in 1980 when I was 5 we used that offer to take my gran to Edinburgh to visit a long-lost relative who she hadn't seen since she was 17. I've a feeling that with that offer in those days you could get a Cheap Day Return to anywhere in the country for something like £5, or if you wanted to stay at least one night you simply bought two of them for £10.

I also seem to recall that at least one year (about 1986ish I think) there was some kind of cheap ticket offer for Young Persons Railcard holders in January and/or February.

For a few years in the early 1990s there was a two-for-one offer every autumn in conjunction with Boots the Chemist. I think you had to collect a voucher from any branch of Boots (or maybe they handed them out to everyone at the checkout), and that allowed you to buy two tickets for the price of one to anywhere in the country (or at least anywhere served by InterCity trains).

Then there were the Network Days on Network SouthEast. At least for the first few years of NSE (1986-90ish) there were a few of these Network Days each year where you could get a special day ticket for something like £3 per adult and £2 per child giving unlimited travel throughout the NSE area: possibly THE most generous rail travel giveaway in British railway history (see also this thread on Network Days: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/network-day-in-the-80s-and-of-finding-overnight-trains.224086/).
 
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Taunton

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In the early 1980s there was some kind of offer for free rail tickets for accompanied children
A better one at that time, 1980s, didn't need any vouchers or anything, was for accompanied children under the age of, I think, 9, to eat for free in the restaurant car.

Euston to Liverpool early one morning, I was joined at the restaurant car table by a mama and TWO sons, age 8 and 6. Who proceeded to eat fully adult quantities. Mama said it was a brilliant offer they did every school holidays to go and visit relatives.
 

Bertie the bus

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I also seem to recall that at least one year (about 1986ish I think) there was some kind of cheap ticket offer for Young Persons Railcard holders in January and/or February.
I'm not sure how many years it lasted but it was definitely available in 1988 as I used it for a few trips that year. It was something like £5 return to destinations within a certain distance and £10 for others. It might have been £10 and £20 as it is over 30 years ago so my memory is a bit hazy.

I think it might have been zonal because 1 of my trips covered numerous branch lines in Devon and another Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock.
 
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Alfie1014

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I’m pretty sure when the HSTs were introduced on the WR in 1976 there were fares for day trips at £1.25
 

Rover

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I remember the Persil offers well, late 70s I think, you filled the departure and destination stations in yourself if I remember correctly. 3 or 4 of us went from Chesterfield to Keith out via Inverness and back via Aberdeen. Happy days!
 

WesternLancer

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I recall the Boots ticket offer in about 1989 or '90 that the OP mentions. I recall buying stuff in the shop split into amounts that qualified for the maximum number of vouchers.


I'm not sure how many years it lasted but it was definitely available in 1988 as I used it for a few trips that year. It was something like £5 return to destinations within a certain distance and £10 for others. It might have been £10 and £20 as it is over 30 years ago so my memory is a bit hazy.

I think it might have been zonal because 1 of my trips covered numerous branch lines in Devon and another Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock.
Yes, I did Sussex to Edinburgh on this with a Y-P railcard and I am pretty sure that was in feb 1986 but maybe feb 1987.
 
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gaillark

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A better one at that time, 1980s, didn't need any vouchers or anything, was for accompanied children under the age of, I think, 9, to eat for free in the restaurant car.

Euston to Liverpool early one morning, I was joined at the restaurant car table by a mama and TWO sons, age 8 and 6. Who proceeded to eat fully adult quantities. Mama said it was a brilliant offer they did every school holidays to go and visit relatives.
I believe it was 3-11 year olds eat for half price.
My kids loved it on the Anglia train to Norwich (which continued to offer half price meals for kids right to the end when National Express abolished the restaurant cars in 2008).
The quality was second to none and reasonably priced.

I remember the Kellogs Cornflakes promotion. Dad took me a few times on it. Money was tight those days and it was my introduction to the railways. Loved it Still remember the journey from Leagrave to Newhaven and somebody taking a goat on the platform at Lewes.
Pitty British Rail is not around today as I'm sure they would have done national promotions such as those nowadays.
 

181

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I also seem to recall that at least one year (about 1986ish I think) there was some kind of cheap ticket offer for Young Persons Railcard holders in January and/or February.

I'm not sure how many years it lasted but it was definitely available in 1988 as I used it for a few trips that year. It was something like £5 return to destinations within a certain distance and £10 for others. It might have been £10 and £20 as it is over 30 years ago so my memory is a bit hazy.

I think it might have been zonal because 1 of my trips covered numerous branch lines in Devon and another Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock

Yes, I did Sussex to Edinburgh on this with a Y-P railcard and I am pretty sure that was in feb 1986 but maybe feb 1987.

It definitely happened in 1987 (February, I think) and 1988 (March, I think); I didn't have a railcard before that so I didn't notice whether there was anything in earlier years. I don't remember it in 1989 or later.

My recollection is that the tickets were point to point (I did London*-Manchester-Sheffield-London by buying a return to Chinley), and that in 1987 at least the fares were £4, £8 or £12 (I'm sure there was at least one that was a single-figure number of pounds, anyway).

*Actually Clapham Junction, on one of the short-lived Inter-City trains from south of London that ran via the WCML rather than Oxford.

I also went to Pembroke Dock with one of these tickets in 1988, but I don't remember any other youthful passengers who looked as if they were just going for the ride, so it probably wasn't on the same train as @Bertie the bus.

In 1981 there was some kind of spcial offer for annual season ticket holders, which if I remember rightly enabled my father (despite his ticket being on the Southern Region) to take the whole family from Crianlarich to Mallaig and back completely free of charge in August that year.
 

AlbertBeale

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I remember the Persil offers well, late 70s I think, you filled the departure and destination stations in yourself if I remember correctly. 3 or 4 of us went from Chesterfield to Keith out via Inverness and back via Aberdeen. Happy days!

I think the "Persil tickets" must have been good for the commany's soap powder sales, since - as I remember - they were very popular and widely used for quite some time. I and friends of mine did a lot of extra travelling courtesy of Persil.
 

jumble

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Apologies if there's already a thread on this, but following on from the long-running thread on present day special offers at https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/special-offers-discussion.42163/ I thought it would be nice to have a thread on BR era special offers (or past special offers from the privatised era).

Here are a few that I can remember:

In the early 1980s there was some kind of offer for free rail tickets for accompanied children where you had to collect tokens from Kellogg's cereal packets. I was a kid then, and I'm fairly sure that my parents and I made use of that offer.

I believe that there was some kind of special offer in the late 1970s or early '80s where you had to collect tokens on Persil packets. I think we may have used that offer too.

Pretty much all through the 1980s BR used to offer senior citizens special cheap fares every November. We lived in London, and in 1980 when I was 5 we used that offer to take my gran to Edinburgh to visit a long-lost relative who she hadn't seen since she was 17. I've a feeling that with that offer in those days you could get a Cheap Day Return to anywhere in the country for something like £5, or if you wanted to stay at least one night you simply bought two of them for £10.

I also seem to recall that at least one year (about 1986ish I think) there was some kind of cheap ticket offer for Young Persons Railcard holders in January and/or February.

For a few years in the early 1990s there was a two-for-one offer every autumn in conjunction with Boots the Chemist. I think you had to collect a voucher from any branch of Boots (or maybe they handed them out to everyone at the checkout), and that allowed you to buy two tickets for the price of one to anywhere in the country (or at least anywhere served by InterCity trains).

Then there were the Network Days on Network SouthEast. At least for the first few years of NSE (1986-90ish) there were a few of these Network Days each year where you could get a special day ticket for something like £3 per adult and £2 per child giving unlimited travel throughout the NSE area: possibly THE most generous rail travel giveaway in British railway history (see also this thread on Network Days: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/network-day-in-the-80s-and-of-finding-overnight-trains.224086/).
I was a student in Manchester in late 70s
I visited my parents in London for a weekend and and bought a young Lady
We had Persil tickets and I recall there was considerable debate in the ticket office as to whether they would be valid on the Manchester Pullman
It was eventually agreed that they would be
It was my birthday and my kind uncle asked what he could do.

Full English for two on the Pullman did nicely
Happy days for a pair of poor students !

There was also the railcard offer you refer to about that time ( I guess 1983)
Buy a student railcard and have any return free
A mate and I did London Edinbrough Glasgow London
 

pitdiver

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When the West Coast Mainline was electrified all the way to Glasgow there was a special offer of a Day Return Euston-Glasgow £7 First Class £5 Standard Class. I took the First Class option and had a compartment all to myself all the way.
 

seagull

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There was one special offer day in the 1980s, and I am vague on the details, but something like if a child brought a teddy bear with them then they and an adult got a free journey. It may or may not have been connected to RailRiders.
 

Taunton

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When the West Coast Mainline was electrified all the way to Glasgow there was a special offer of a Day Return Euston-Glasgow £7 First Class £5 Standard Class. I took the First Class option and had a compartment all to myself all the way.
There was a comparable one in 1974 on Liverpool to Edinburgh, which was I think £5 as well. It fitted nicely with the early through train out, evening one home, and gave a longer visit to Edinburgh than would be possible from London. It developed a considerable market, whole groups together would go.

Maybe we can also recall the Student Railcard. Came out in about 1974, it gave half price everything (simplistically, it gave child fare tickets). Initially just a cardboard card which you had to stick a photo of yourself after getting a university staff member to sign the back - then unable to be seen. It did quite well, was then attacked as elitist as only available for students, so progressively got extended to Young Persons Railcard. I don't recall if there was an upper age limit, or whether adult PhDs etc qualified.
 

ChiefPlanner

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As a student in Aberystwyth from 1976 - there were excellent £7 day returns to Euston with no restrictions in 1st class. A long day out , but do-able. Enjoyed the run out several times , especially when zealous guards tried to chuck us out of the 1st class (being scruffy and long haired students) , only to beat a retreat when we had proper tickets.

£2 evening rovers on the Cambrian coast in high summer were excellent value - you could get to Barmouth from Aberystwyth , have a pint and fish and chips and get back on the last inwards train. Good marginal revenue from a so called "deeply inefficient" Nationalised organisatation...

!25 services from South Wales had evening special tickets after 1600 to Paddington - useful for evenings out with a late return. £5 seems to be the price from distant memory , it was withdrawn after instead of culteral and wholesome travellers , it was found out that certain Cardiff based "ladies" used them to earn better money off Praed St or Sussex Gardens than they could earn locally. So one gathers.
 

ChiefPlanner

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99 pence "day rovers" off peak on the "interesting" Broad St to Richmond route in the 1970's was also another good deal !.

66 Pence from Stratford LL - Camden Road on the GLC funded "Crosstown - Linklinerail)
 

Taunton

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£2 evening rovers on the Cambrian coast in high summer were excellent value - you could get to Barmouth from Aberystwyth , have a pint and fish and chips and get back on the last inwards train. Good marginal revenue from a so called "deeply inefficient" Nationalised organisatation...
When I was in both Glasgow and Edinburgh in the mid-1970s, there was an "Evening Return" for 69p (yes) on the 18.30 and later push-pull between the two cities, the half-hourly trains being pretty empty by that time of day.

Took it one evening to do a surprise (which you had to do in pre-mobile phone days) visit from Glasgow to a (somewhat marginal) girlfriend in Edinburgh, only to discover that "alternative company" was in progress ... hey-ho.
 

181

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There was one special offer day in the 1980s, and I am vague on the details, but something like if a child brought a teddy bear with them then they and an adult got a free journey. It may or may not have been connected to RailRiders.
If this is the same thing that I remember, it was in January 1987, possibly for a few weeks (maybe the month) rather than a specific day although I'm not sure about that. It was marketed as being about teddy bears, but I think if you looked at the small print it was in effect a special offer (though not free) for Family Railcard holders and you didn't have to bring a bear -- presumably they didn't want to cause difficulties for families with teenagers who considered thmeselves too old to carry teddy bears around with them. (I was 16 by then anyway, but my brother qualified the family for a railcard; we did a trip to Hereford without him having to take a bear with him).

Maybe we can also recall the Student Railcard. Came out in about 1974, it gave half price everything (simplistically, it gave child fare tickets). Initially just a cardboard card which you had to stick a photo of yourself after getting a university staff member to sign the back - then unable to be seen. It did quite well, was then attacked as elitist as only available for students, so progressively got extended to Young Persons Railcard. I don't recall if there was an upper age limit, or whether adult PhDs etc qualified.
I don't know about the 1970s (or indeed the present day), but my recollection is that when I had a YP Railcard in the 1980s and 90s it was also available to full-time students of any age.
 

Laurencew

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Anyone remember the "Border Evening Rover", valid from Chester to Church Stretton (via Gobowen) for 50p. Great for a pub crawl. Late 70's or early 80's ??
 

ge-gn

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As a child I recall in about 86/87 having our first trip to London from the North East on a “Teddy Bear” weekend. I was 11 or 12 at the time and was slightly self conscious of travelling with a furry companion. I think we kids travelled for free, I’m not so sure if the bargain extended to my parents?

Travelling to the capital of our country seemed like a big deal in 80s NE England.
 

D6130

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When the West Coast Mainline was electrified all the way to Glasgow there was a special offer of a Day Return Euston-Glasgow £7 First Class £5 Standard Class. I took the First Class option and had a compartment all to myself all the way.
I and a couple of friends - living in Hampshire at the time - availed ourselves of that offer on the second Saturday of December 1974....but sadly, as pocket money was tight (still being at school), we could only afford the second class option. We travelled up to London on the Friday evening and stayed overnight with one of my friend's grandmother in Kenton. The following morning we had a very early start and took a DC unit into Euston to catch the 07 45 to Glasgow, hauled by 87 021....my very first 87 haulage. Arriving in Glasgow at 12 57, we had time to visit Eastfield Depot and do a quick trip to Edinburgh and back on the 2 x 27 push-pulls, before taking the 18 35 Queen Street-Oban out to Helensburgh Upper to meet a couple of Scottish school friends and then a walk down the hill to Helensburgh Central for a 303 back to Glasgow. The special tickets, which were also available from Glasgow to Euston and return, were valid for returning on any overnight service departing before midnight, so we returned "on the cushions" on the overnight via Kilmarnock. (For further details of this trip, see post # 2,399 in the 'Back in the Day' thread).
 
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D1537

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I also seem to recall that at least one year (about 1986ish I think) there was some kind of cheap ticket offer for Young Persons Railcard holders in January and/or February.
It definitely happened in 1987 (February, I think) and 1988 (March, I think); I didn't have a railcard before that so I didn't notice whether there was anything in earlier years. I don't remember it in 1989 or later.
The February 1986 one was one of the most comically stupid ideas ever conceived by British Rail, and was the reason why the 1987 and 1988 ones were scaled back.

Basically it went like this - any ticket up to £15 = £5
Any ticket up to £30 = £10
Any ticket over £30 = £15

I am sure you can see the inherent problem with this ...

So, *any* ticket was £15. So if you had a friendly ticket office person, or went to a BR travel agent (who frankly, usually, didn't have a clue what they were doing), it was "Hello, kind sir/madam, can I have a return from Penzance to Wick, via Brighton, Norwich, Fishguard, Holyhead, Hull, Stranraer and Aberdeen please?"

Instant All-Line for £15!

Even if you didn't have a friendly person, you could buy straight returns anywhere, so the usual one was to buy a return between two stations that were a long way apart but frankly no ticket collectors outside that area had ever heard of (Causeland to Plockton, please! And a return from Alexandra Parade to Alexandra Palace while you're at it). And then there were the funny ones (Bat & Ball to Bowling, Whitchurch to Whitchurch via Whitchurch).

Not only that, but the return halves were valid for a month, so if were judicious buying your tickets, most of March was covered as well!

Since it was the winter, there obviously wasn't the "rare engine" bashing opportunities available, but many people availed themselves of the excellent opportunities, I myself spending most of the two months blasting up and down the ECML and sampling the steam heat 47 action in Scotland (I cleared four boilered locos for 1000 miles, one of which was an English one that the ScR had kidnapped).

The Southbound overnights from Scotland on a Saturday were, shall we say, "busy", one memorable occasion on 1E43 with 47596 from Aberdeen to Newcastle via Carlisle, and 47401 from Newcastle to KX (via every conceivable diversion route - Leamside, Lincoln, Cambridge) having pretty much every metre of floor space filled with sleeping people.

Unsurprisingly, there was a rethink.
 
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Welshman

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To coincide with the introduction of the popular diesel multiple units in the late 1950s-early 60s, the North Eastern Region introduced the "Day Line Diesel" ticket.
It was issued in two sections, Northern and Southern and was a good way for a cheap day out. You could also use it on steam-trains if you wished!

 

John Luxton

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A good range of Round Robin Tickets were available on Saturdays from Liverpool mid to late 70s.

Ones I recall:
Central Wales: Liverpool-Crewe-Shrewsbury-Llanelli-Swansea-Cardiff-Shewsbury-Crewe Liverpool £7 first class. A great long day out which also included the then new HSTs in South Wales.

Midland:
Liverpool-Crewe-Derby-St Pancras walk to Euston then back direct. Return from Euston had full restaurant car doing afternoon tea. £6 First Class

Scottish Borders:
Liverpool - Carlisle - Newcastle - Liverpool
£5 first class

Settle and Carlisle
Liverpool - Carlisle - Leeds - Liverpool
£5 first class

I did all of the above at least once the Midland one quite a few times and Central Wales 3 times. Second class fares were a pound less as I recall so always went first.

There were one or two others Cumbrian Coast and I think another but I never did those.
 

Welshman

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A good range of Round Robin Tickets were available on Saturdays from Liverpool mid to late 70s.

Ones I recall:
Central Wales: Liverpool-Crewe-Shrewsbury-Llanelli-Swansea-Cardiff-Shewsbury-Crewe Liverpool £7 first class. A great long day out which also included the then new HSTs in South Wales.

Midland:
Liverpool-Crewe-Derby-St Pancras walk to Euston then back direct. Return from Euston had full restaurant car doing afternoon tea. £6 First Class

Scottish Borders:
Liverpool - Carlisle - Newcastle - Liverpool
£5 first class

Settle and Carlisle
Liverpool - Carlisle - Leeds - Liverpool
£5 first class

I did all of the above at least once the Midland one quite a few times and Central Wales 3 times. Second class fares were a pound less as I recall so always went first.

There were one or two others Cumbrian Coast and I think another but I never did those.
Ooh yes!
You've just reminded me. They were excellent value.
The Eastern Region promoted them too. I lived in Leicestershire then and remember driving to Peterborough for a trip on a recently-introduced HST to Newcastle, followed by a run along the Tyne Valley to Carlisle, then an 86-hauled from Carlisle to Euston. Then it was a quick walk to King's Cross for a train back to Peterborough, followed by the drive home.
A long day. I can't remember how much it was, but it was cheap, and good value.
 

D1537

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In the early 80s there was a Round-Robin ticket from Birmingham to Weymouth and back - via Bristol and Westbury one way, and Bournemouth and Reading the other.

We usually did Bristol first as you got two locos on the Brum-Bristol section and there was more choice on the Reading-Oxford section.

The haulage was usually
Steam Heat 45/46/47 - Brum-Gloucester
45/46/47/50 - Gloucester-Bristol
33 - Bristol-Westbury
dmu - Westbury-Weymouth
33/1 - Weymouth - Bournemouth
47 - Bournemouth - Reading
47/50 - Reading-Oxford
47 - Oxford-Brum

It cost £3.50 child fare if I remember!
 

Railwaysceptic

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When the West Coast Mainline was electrified all the way to Glasgow there was a special offer of a Day Return Euston-Glasgow £7 First Class £5 Standard Class. I took the First Class option and had a compartment all to myself all the way.
Yes, a friend and I availed ourselves of that offer three times to visit Glasgow. Even in those days, £5.00 wasn't much for Euston to Glasgow Central and back.
 

pitdiver

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Can anybody recall a special HST trip that was being operated back in 79 to Edinburgh.Not sure where it was going from though This was cancelled due to the Penmanshiel tunnel collapse. Did it ever run as I never got my money back.
 

d9009alycidon

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In 1981 I was in my last year at Strathclyde University and BR ran a special offer if you bought a Student Railcard in the spring you would get 1 free return ticket from anywhere to anywhere in the UK. A few of us took advantage of this and made a pilgrimage to Barry Scrapyard, route there and back was to say the least convoluted, but great fun
 

billio

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I have tickets for a 'Saturday Spree' London Paddington to Plymouth and back on 30th March 1974. The tickets don't show the price but they must have been pretty cheap. I can't remember much about it.
Another important special ticket reduction was the introduction of Free Cycle Tickets in 1977 to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in that year. Prior to that cycles went at half fare.
You applied to a central address to receive a special ticket to use in conjunction with an ordinary rail ticket. Taking cycles on trains for free was adopted after the success of this offer.
 

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