Overhaul to rail penalty fare appeals proposed

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Flamingo

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It depends what you mean by "correctly issued", there are plenty of cases where a penalty was technically correct but was unfair in all the circumstances. IPFAS can't and won't look at that.

An Ombudsman would do the work of Passenger Focus too, but this time with teeth.
Either it's correct or it's not.
 
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Antman

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Why not? That's the conditions of having a railcard discount. If that's the case, then the railcard T&C need changing, but that would be a different issue.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Again, I don't have a problem with an independent appeals process, but I don't see why in the vast majority of cases it would make much difference, if it's mandate is to look at PF's and UFN's to see were they correctly issued.

If they were correctly issued, then why should an independent ombudsman be able to overturn them?
The person shouldn't be entitled to any discount or should have to produce the railcard at a later date but I don't see how a penalty fare is justified.

I got a parking ticket a few years ago because I didn't have change for the machine and when I returned a few minutes later a traffic warden had issued a ticket which he couldn't then cancel. He said if I had left a note on the car saying I had gone for change he wouldn't have issued it and advised me to contest it explaining the circumstances, I did and the ticket was cancelled even though it had been correctly issued a bit of common sense was applied.

As Artic Troll said at the moment the prosecutor is also the judge and that is unfair.
 

Flamingo

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If only life were that black and white.
Sometimes it is. That is the point of "Strict Liability" offences (which in these cases, they usually are).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The person shouldn't be entitled to any discount or should have to produce the railcard at a later date but I don't see how a penalty fare is justified.

I got a parking ticket a few years ago because I didn't have change for the machine and when I returned a few minutes later a traffic warden had issued a ticket which he couldn't then cancel. He said if I had left a note on the car saying I had gone for change he wouldn't have issued it and advised me to contest it explaining the circumstances, I did and the ticket was cancelled even though it had been correctly issued a bit of common sense was applied.

As Artic Troll said at the moment the prosecutor is also the judge and that is unfair.
The prosecutor is not the judge, they are the prosecutor. They decide if it is is sent to before a judge, who then decides if it is justified or not.
 

LateThanNever

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Sometimes it is. That is the point of "Strict Liability" offences (which in these cases, they usually are).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

The prosecutor is not the judge, they are the prosecutor. They decide if it is is sent to before a judge, who then decides if it is justified or not.
The difference is that strict liabilty confers a special reduced level of evidence on the prosecutor.
As these prosecutors are subsidiaries of UK bus companies born of corruption, Serco, who are defrauders of the taxpayer, or foreign companies whose home countries favour the inquisitorial system of justice, it does not engender confidence in due process.
Added to that when the enforcement of the ticketing system is often either reckless or inconsistent, it is no wonder many feel the pendulum has swung too far from "innocent until proved guilty". If these commercial companies were transparent and had to prove they were neither reckless nor inconsistent in their enforcement before taking further action it might focus their minds on their processes and justify the sweeping powers granted to them by the legislation.
 

Tetchytyke

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Sometimes it is. That is the point of "Strict Liability" offences (which in these cases, they usually are).
Something can be correctly issued and unfair, especially where a passenger is vulnerable.

The prosecutor is not the judge, they are the prosecutor.
Go-Ahead issue a Penalty Fare and Go-Ahead run the appeals service that decides if it was issued fairly and correctly.

No, of course there's no conflict of interest there whatsoever :roll:
 

Flamingo

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Something can be correctly issued and unfair, especially where a passenger is vulnerable.



Go-Ahead issue a Penalty Fare and Go-Ahead run the appeals service that decides if it was issued fairly and correctly.

No, of course there's no conflict of interest there whatsoever :roll:
And if the passenger does still feel they have a case, they can refuse to pay part or all of the charge and see where it ends up.

I don't say there is not a role for an independent appeals process, just that I don't see the outcome being very different in most cases over writing to the TOC involved. If you can give real-world (not hypothetical) instances where an independent appeal would have been beneficial (except ones involving RJ, who I suspect is in a class of his own), I'd be glad to read them.
 
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Tetchytyke

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And if the passenger does still feel they have a case, they can refuse to pay part or all of the charge and see where it ends up
You know, I could have sworn that the first point in the consultation was about stopping TOCs using threats of criminal prosecution in contested Penalty Fares cases...

Guess you've just proven why it needs to happen.
 

Flamingo

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You know, I could have sworn that the first point in the consultation was about stopping TOCs using threats of criminal prosecution in contested Penalty Fares cases...

Guess you've just proven why it needs to happen.
I thought the point is that Penalty Fares should only be issued correctly. Not that every lame excuse as to why "I'm special" should be accepted without question.

Did you not bother to read the rest of my post, only the bit that suited your hypothesis that TOC's should just attach an honesty box onto the side of each train?
 
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Clip

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This consultation will come to nothing IMO - or nothing worthwhile.

Id prefer one appeals body to be independant but then who pays for that? But one that is fully aware of the full regulations and routing guide as they do seem to cause a lot of issues(not to mention attitudes of a small section of staff but you get that anywhere)

But, here is something that may be way out there because it is a 'what if' situation BUT

'What if passengers actually bought a ticket, a correct ticket, for their journey. AND held the correct railcard as per the terms, with them when they travelled?'

I reckon that sort of system coupled together would be far better than anything.

Or we just abolish it and have everyone up in court ;)
 

thedbdiboy

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I don't say there is not a role for an independent appeals process, just that I don't see the outcome being very different in most cases over writing to the TOC involved. If you can give real-world (not hypothetical) instances where an independent appeal would have been beneficial (except ones involving RJ, who I suspect is in a class of his own), I'd be glad to read them.
The issue is not about reality - it's about perception. It doesn't matter whether the majority of appeals are handled correctly; there is a huge level of mistrust that it doesn't appear to be transparently independent
 

Tetchytyke

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I thought the point is that Penalty Fares should only be issued correctly. Not that every lame excuse as to why "I'm special" should be accepted without question.
Here's one recent "real world example" of where Passenger Focus were able to get a Penalty Fare rescinded when the "independent" appeals agency refused to budge:

Passenger Focus said:
Miss P’s 16-25 Railcard was in her purse which had been mislaid. However, she didn't know she had lost it.

Her father bought her a ticket incorporating a Railcard discount. On the train she was asked to show her ticket and Railcard and was unable to do so because of the lost purse.

She was required to buy another ticket, but she couldn't as she didn’t have her purse and could not prove her identity. She was issued a Penalty Fare Notice (PFN) for £46.

Following her journey the purse was returned to her so she could prove she did have a Railcard. She appealed three times against the PFN to the independent appeals body, Independent Transport Associates Ltd (ITAL). On each occasion the appeal was unsuccessful. The reason given was that retrospective proof is not accepted.

We then contacted South West Trains (SWT). Our appeal was made on the basis that she did have a Railcard, but her missing purse prevented her from showing the Railcard and she was not aware that it was missing when she started the journey.

We sent a copy of the Railcard to SWT as proof of her holding a valid Railcard at the time of her journey.

After reviewing the appeal, it was agreed to waive the PFN and refund all charges as well.
And here's another one:

Passenger Focus said:
Miss S was travelling from Sandy, Bedfordshire, to London King’s Cross. She bought her ticket, with a Railcard discount, from a vending machine at Sandy station. She made her purchase at around midday to travel on the 5.15pm service.

When a ticket inspector asked her to present the Railcard and ticket on the train she realised that she had inadvertently left her Railcard in her car. The inspector issued her with a Penalty Fare Notice (PFN).

She tried to explain that when she bought the ticket she had her Railcard with her, but did not have it with her at that moment. She also showed the ticket inspector a number of other tickets in her wallet which had been bought with a Railcard and were marked as inspected, proving that she had her Railcard with her on those occasions.

She sent an appeal letter to the Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service (IPFAS). They did not receive it so she was sent a letter threatening court action.

Miss S approached us for help and we took up the case on her behalf. We appealed on the basis that at the time of purchase she did have a Railcard which was valid when she made her journey. We also included a copy of her Railcard.

As a result, First Capital Connect agreed to not pursue the PFN or any administration charges.
And here's a third one:

Passenger Focus said:
Mr D boarded the 3.55pm train to Preston from Ansdell with the intention of buying a ticket on board. When he tried to purchase his ticket from the conductor he discovered that the ticket machine was unable to print tickets. The conductor told him to buy a ticket on his return journey at 9pm. When he was leaving Preston station he was approached by two revenue protection officers who recorded his details after threatening to call the police if he didn’t provide them.

This seemed unfair as he was following the instructions he had been given by the conductor. On his way back to Ansdell he purchased a ticket at Preston station at 8.58pm – so he had done as he had been told to do. Additionally, Ansdell is an unstaffed station so he wasn’t initially able to buy a ticket prior to boarding the train.

In hindsight, he admitted that he could have bought a ticket as soon as he got off the train at Preston on the first leg of his journey, but he did not do so because of what he had been told to do by the conductor. It had not occurred to him that he might be penalised.

Passenger Focus asked Northern to refund the Fixed Penalty Notice he had paid as it was not fair that this passenger was penalised due to a failure in Northern’s equipment and communication between staff members. None of this was the passenger’s fault and it was clear that he had no intention of defrauding Northern.

Northern refunded the £86.80 Fixed Penalty Notice and Mr D was very pleased with this result.
(all from http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/help/archive-case-studies)

Issuing a Penalty Fare for not having a railcard (because it was stolen) is correct. Refusing the appeal is not correct, as Passenger Focus were able to prove.

I'd like to see a Passenger Focus with teeth. I'd like to see a transparent appeals process- it often isn't about whether justice has been done, but whether it is seen to be done. I'll ask again: do you think there is a conflict of interest when Go-Ahead adjudicate on appeals involving Go-Ahead, or not?

I'm not sure what "honesty boxes" have to do with anything?
 
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Flamingo

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The issue is not about reality - it's about perception. It doesn't matter whether the majority of appeals are handled correctly; there is a huge level of mistrust that it doesn't appear to be transparently independent
From whom? The general travelling public who, (despite the vast majority of them getting it right every day) are percieved by quite a large number of non-staff posters on this site as morons? That is the only conclusion I can come to after reading posts like this and others clutching at straws to make a case at all costs against a system that from my experience is already vastly weighted in favour of the casual fraudster and opportunist freeloader.

Have an independent appeals process, by all means.

Here is the difficult question - what should happen to people who's appeal is turned down? And what should happen if they still refuse to pay?
 
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Tetchytyke

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Here is the difficult question - what should happen to people who's appeal is turned down? And what should happen if they still refuse to pay?
They should be sued in the civil court for the debt, just as happens thousands of times a day for other debts that people cannot or will not pay.

Next!
 

Flamingo

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Here's one recent "real world example" of where Passenger Focus were able to get a Penalty Fare rescinded when the "independent" appeals agency refused to budge:



And here's another one:



And here's a third one:



(all from http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/help/archive-case-studies)

Issuing a Penalty Fare for not having a railcard (because it was stolen) is correct. Refusing the appeal is not correct, as Passenger Focus were able to prove.

I'd like to see a Passenger Focus with teeth. I'd like to see a transparent appeals process- it often isn't about whether justice has been done, but whether it is seen to be done. I'll ask again: do you think there is a conflict of interest when Go-Ahead adjudicate on appeals involving Go-Ahead, or not?

I'm not sure what "honesty boxes" have to do with anything?
I would say that those examples have more to do with the terms and conditions of railcard discounted tickets than anything else. Which is not under discussion.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
They should be sued in the civil court for the debt, just as happens thousands of times a day for other debts that people cannot or will not pay.

Next!
So they end up in court. Unlike the present system where they... just remind me again, where do they end up? <D
 

Howardh

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Technical Q regarding railcards - my car insurance details + MOT are available online to the authorities so should I be stopped and fail to provide either, they can be found online.

Is it not the case that the name, address etc of railcards are stored online so the appropriate personnel can look them up should someone lose/forget their railcard - providing at the time of asking they have some other form of identity to prove they are who they say they are?
 

Antman

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I would say that those examples have more to do with the terms and conditions of railcard discounted tickets than anything else. Which is not under discussion.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

So they end up in court. Unlike the present system where they... just remind me again, where do they end up? <D
A civil court and a criminal court are totally different, are you deliberately being disingenuous?
 

swt_passenger

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Is it not the case that the name, address etc of railcards are stored online...
You're right, it is not the case. There is no central database of railcards, and even if there was that would not prevent the physical railcard being used by someone else - at least for those without photographs.
 

Flamingo

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A civil court and a criminal court are totally different, are you deliberately being disingenuous?
You are right, of course.

So instead of having threads on here "I can't get my chosen profession because I'll have a criminal record" it'll be threads on here "I can't get my chosen profession or mortgage or Credit Cards or bank loan because I'll have a CCJ against me"...
 

Deerfold

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Technical Q regarding railcards - my car insurance details + MOT are available online to the authorities so should I be stopped and fail to provide either, they can be found online.
It's not a condition of driving that you carry these documents.

Is it not the case that the name, address etc of railcards are stored online so the appropriate personnel can look them up should someone lose/forget their railcard - providing at the time of asking they have some other form of identity to prove they are who they say they are?
It is not the case, no. It is true for a subset of railcard holders that their details will be in a database in one place or another. If we're starting a new one, who's paying for that?
 

Wolfie

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It is not the case, no. It is true for a subset of railcard holders that their details will be in a database in one place or another. If we're starting a new one, who's paying for that?
I'm sorry but the cost of compliance doesn't ultimately decide other laws so why the heck should the railway be different. The straight answer is those the law applies to which means Railcard vendors.. in practical terms it will probably be contracted to the same folk who run NRE or similar....

You're right, it is not the case. There is no central database of railcards, and even if there was that would not prevent the physical railcard being used by someone else - at least for those without photographs.
For the former issue see above. With respect to the latter I imagine that all Railcards would soon have photos....

But joining a train without a ticket is a criminal offence.
Currently....
 
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Tetchytyke

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But joining a train without a ticket is a criminal offence.
The question was what should happen.

Not having a valid ticket- as opposed to deliberately avoiding the fare- should not be a criminal offence. And the consultation was asking whether TOCs should be stopped from threatening prosecution for disputed penalty fares.
 

DaveNewcastle

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The difference is that strict liabilty confers a special reduced level of evidence on the prosecutor.
No it doesn't. This is factually incorrect.
As these prosecutors are subsidiaries of UK bus companies born of corruption, Serco, who are defrauders of the taxpayer, or foreign companies whose home countries favour the inquisitorial system of justice, it does not engender confidence in due process.
This talk is beneath my contempt.
 

Antman

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But joining a train without a ticket is a criminal offence.
Which shows why things need to change.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
You are right, of course.

So instead of having threads on here "I can't get my chosen profession because I'll have a criminal record" it'll be threads on here "I can't get my chosen profession or mortgage or Credit Cards or bank loan because I'll have a CCJ against me"...
It's quite simple, if somebody is issued with a penalty fare that they don't agree with it can then be referred to the ombudsman, if they find in favour of the train company then the passenger either pays it or contests it in court.
 

DaveNewcastle

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You know, I could have sworn that the first point in the consultation was about stopping TOCs using threats of criminal prosecution in contested Penalty Fares cases...
The first point in the consultation is to introduce a 'stop the clock' mechanism to the 21 days available to discharge the debt if an appeal is lodged. [Section 1.13]
I guess you're thinking of the fifth point [Section 1.67].
To be precise:"Proposed change
The DfT could issue guidance on the pursuit of penalty fares payment, stating what language is acceptable in reminder letters from TOCs.
The guidance would ask TOCs to make it clear to passengers when civil or criminal sanctions are being pursued and why.
The DfT expects to work with TOCs to ensure staff are suitably trained on the specified guidance, as well as other matters.
TOCs would remain able to pursue criminal sanctions in cases where this is advised by relevant appeals bodies.
If a TOC was found to ignore issued guidance, the Government could withdraw their right to operate a penalty fares scheme."​
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
A civil court and a criminal court are totally different, are you deliberately being disingenuous?
I'm not sure what distinction between the two you find to be significant, but I will point out one difference which is always going to be worth bearing in mind :

In a Criminal Prosecution, the standard of evidence required to achieve a conviction, after all evidence having been presented by all parties, is "beyond all reasonable doubt" - This is a very high standard of persuasiveness to reach.

In a Civil Claim, the standard of evidence to secure a Claim, after all evidence having been presented by all parties, is "in the balance of probabilities" - a rather easy standard to achieve, even with flimsy evidence by one part and where there's nothing much available from the other.

Please, and to use the hackneyd phrase, be careful what you wish for.
I, as a passenger, would much prefer my travel to be challenged under the requirement for the higher standard of evidence against me.

If it helps, those on this forum with a passionately held dislike or distrust of the rail industry should be able to view the law as a protection, not as a threat. Many of the "what-if" and obscure or antagonistic encounters reported on here are all subject to one or other of these standard of evidence, and it has only been a handful of cases that I know of that have been treated as 'mere' civil Claims. When fare evaders evade fares, their conviction can only follow from evidence which is persuasive "beyond all reasonable doubt". Those who claim 'corruption', 'greed' and 'incompetence' should reflect on the outcome for themselves if these claims were true AND the required standard of evidence was lowered to the mere "balance of probabilities" in Civil debt collection. The fare-paying passenger has considerable protection from these standards of evidence.
 
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jon0844

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I don't know why there's so much talk of Northern's unofficial PF scheme when other TOCs, like FCC (and perhaps GTR are continuing this policy) have also adopted the same tactics. Possibly others too?

FCC had been training more RPIs to do reports for prosecution, and while there haven't perhaps been so many posts of late (compared to Northern), the same idea is in operation. Threaten court action, and then offer an out of court settlement to make the problem go away.

Who knows, you could perhaps call their bluff - and either see no further action taken or an offer of a reduced amount, but nobody would likely do that.

All of this is because the current PF scheme is way out of date and £20 is now too low to be a real deterrent and also too low for some TOCs to want to bother, so they've found a very 'clever' alternative that is being allowed to continue and allowing TOCs to make money.

I'm not necessarily against them doing this, as it's quite obvious many people are the 'only pay when challenged' brigade, but it does mean the whole thing needs sorting.
 

LateThanNever

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Quote:
Originally Posted by LateThanNever
The difference is that strict liabilty confers a special reduced level of evidence on the prosecutor.


No it doesn't. This is factually incorrect.This talk is beneath my contempt.
If you don't need to provide evidence of intent the prosecutor is automatically required to produce less evidence!

As for being beneath contempt - perhaps that should be reserved for the ethics of the companies themselves.
 

Antman

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The first point in the consultation is to introduce a 'stop the clock' mechanism to the 21 days available to discharge the debt if an appeal is lodged. [Section 1.13]
I guess you're thinking of the fifth point [Section 1.67].
To be precise:"Proposed change
The DfT could issue guidance on the pursuit of penalty fares payment, stating what language is acceptable in reminder letters from TOCs.
The guidance would ask TOCs to make it clear to passengers when civil or criminal sanctions are being pursued and why.
The DfT expects to work with TOCs to ensure staff are suitably trained on the specified guidance, as well as other matters.
TOCs would remain able to pursue criminal sanctions in cases where this is advised by relevant appeals bodies.
If a TOC was found to ignore issued guidance, the Government could withdraw their right to operate a penalty fares scheme."​
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'm not sure what distinction between the two you find to be significant, but I will point out one difference which is always going to be worth bearing in mind :

In a Criminal Prosecution, the standard of evidence required to achieve a conviction, after all evidence having been presented by all parties, is "beyond all reasonable doubt" - This is a very high standard of persuasiveness to reach.

In a Civil Claim, the standard of evidence to secure a Claim, after all evidence having been presented by all parties, is "in the balance of probabilities" - a rather easy standard to achieve, even with flimsy evidence by one part and where there's nothing much available from the other.

Please, and to use the hackneyd phrase, be careful what you wish for.
I, as a passenger, would much prefer my travel to be challenged under the requirement for the higher standard of evidence against me.

If it helps, those on this forum with a passionately held dislike or distrust of the rail industry should be able to view the law as a protection, not as a threat. Many of the "what-if" and obscure or antagonistic encounters reported on here are all subject to one or other of these standard of evidence, and it has only been a handful of cases that I know of that have been treated as 'mere' civil Claims. When fare evaders evade fares, their conviction can only follow from evidence which is persuasive "beyond all reasonable doubt". Those who claim 'corruption', 'greed' and 'incompetence' should reflect on the outcome for themselves if these claims were true AND the required standard of evidence was lowered to the mere "balance of probabilities" in Civil debt collection. The fare-paying passenger has considerable protection from these standards of evidence.
Civil court was only mentioned regarding people who refuse to pay after being found guilty.

An ombudsman removes the 'pay up or go to court' threat which is used to intimidate people into paying up.
 
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Flamingo

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Civil court was only mentioned regarding people who refuse to pay after being found guilty.

An ombudsman removes the 'pay up or go to court' threat which is used to intimidate people into paying up.
They would not have been found guilty, their appeal to the ombudsman would have been rejected.

Then it's pay up or ... Oh yea, see you in court...
 
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