Problems using a Britrail pass on London Overground (denied travel)

AlterEgo

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Another question about Britrail... A VT inspector just stopped me at Euston ticket chck and asked for proof of residence. I'm not traveling round with my passport, so showed her a US State-issued driving license with my photo, name and address. She said it would have to be a passport though she would accept this this time. Another man (I think a supervisor) then said he would not let me through without a passport , and tried to physically restrain me, but the first lady told him it was ok and he relented!

The Britrail T&Cs say that a passport has to be presented on initial validation (which it was) but simply states "proof of residency" needs to be presented on any subsequent ticket checks if requested. Given that a passport does not in fact provide proof of residency (only proof of nationality), and that a driving license does, I'm assuming a driving license should be ok according to the T&Cs. (I presume one could argue a recent utility bill would also meet the criteria since it doesn't even say "government-issued" proof of residency, but I'm sure the photo on the card helps).

Any thoughts?

This is the first time anyone has asked me for ID in the 6 weeks of using the pass so far...
Thoughts?

The VT staff member was wrong and you are correct.
 
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DY444

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Should be no problem - how many other operators even go to the effort of selling the ticket from their machines? Any problems - just refer the gateline attendant to the nearest machine that clearly only excludes London Underground, not London Overground.

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Should be no problem but I can tell you from personal experience that it is. I've had a few run-ins with LO RPIs who claimed an ALR was invalid on LO because of variations on the well worn theme of "LO is part of the Underground and not National Rail".

My view is that TfL management do nothing to sort this out because they don't like the idea of being associated with National Rail or being bound by its ticketing rules.
 

Mojo

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Should be no problem but I can tell you from personal experience that it is. I've had a few run-ins with LO RPIs who claimed an ALR was invalid on LO because of variations on the well worn theme of "LO is part of the Underground and not National Rail".

My view is that TfL management do nothing to sort this out because they don't like the idea of being associated with National Rail or being bound by its ticketing rules.
The staff in question would be employees of Arriva Rail London, a private train operating company, not TfL, and as such it would be for this company to sort it out with their staff. Of course, I am not defending TfL, who should be making sure that staff of the companies they select to operate their services are following the correct rules and procedures, but this would be for something for TfL to take up with the company, who, in turn, would have to advise their staff.

This is surprising even more so because, as staff of a National Rail Train Operating Company, they benefit from some of the perks that other Tocs (eg. Chiltern Railways, or CrossCountry) have, such as Priv cards. Although saying that there are a huge number of agency staff on the Overground, who like those working for other Tocs presumably receive none of these perksT

Even London Underground publishes a booklet for all of its station staff detailing the validity of the Britrail tickets and also provides instructions how station staff can validate them should they be requested to by a customer, even though they are not ordinarily valid on LUL train services.
 

High Dyke

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What i find worrying, especially in the case of the VT experience, what sort of impression does this give to visitors to UK using these types of tickets? Shoddy customer service is one thing, but trying to restrain someone with a valid ticket due to ignorance is a step too far.
 

bb21

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Euston manual gatelines are notorious for making things up (speaking both from the perspective of an ordinary ticket holder - BritRails, ALRs, Advances, walk-on fares, etc, and a staff travel facility holder). Whether it was due to poor training or poor information from higher up I cannot say, but my experiences there are far from positive, on numerous occasions, and far worse than anywhere else on the network by a long way.

The funny thing is, elsewhere Virgin gateline staff are all perfectly reasonable and have no such problem.

I am at the stage where if I can avoid departing from Euston on Virgin then I will.
 

classicmds

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Euston manual gatelines are notorious for making things up...Whether it was due to poor training or poor information from higher up I cannot say, but my experiences there are far from positive, on numerous occasions, and far worse than anywhere else on the network by a long way.
I think it might be in part from the fact of having hundreds of passengers surging toward you as you try to perform ticket checks. That doesn't excuse rudeness, but it would seem to create a kind of inherently confrontational situation. Even before I reached them, I thought to myself the line of gate staff looked like riot police holding the line. Why are there no automatic ticket barriers there?

On returning this evening back through Euston a different gate staff member had another problem with the Britrail pass. He said I needed to write the dates of validity in the bottom section. I told him I thought this was only for the validating ticket office to do (and the T&Cs warn you sternly not to go validating it yourself!), and the validating office had stamped it in this area with a start date. While there was indeed no end date, I just assumed that since the pass has a printed length of validity, and the validating ticket office had put a start date on, this was all taken care of.

But he told me that I was responsible for also writing the dates in and would need to do this before I traveled next time.

Am I meant to write the dates in this section? Is it somehow invalid without these dates marked in?
 
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classicmds

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Also, thinking about the issue of passport versus proof of residence leads me to wonder why the initial requirement for validation of Britrail is a passport, and not proof of residency, given that the criteria for purchasing a pass is overseas residence not foreign nationality (and even foreign nationals don't all hold passports for that nationality). Of course, the majority of people will need a passport to have arrived in the UK, so I guess this question would mainly apply to British citizens resident abroad who do not have citizenship and/or a passport in their country of residence.

Would such a person not be able to use a Britrail pass, or would a ticket office validate with - for example - a permanent resident card from the foreign country?

Conversely, someone resident in the UK who had a foreign passport and a willing friend overseas could presumably use a Britrail pass -- unless they ran across a ticket inspector who strictly enforced the "proof of residency" rule to mean wanting to see some kind of proof of overseas address (though I expect -- as my experience at Euston suggests -- they would actually accept the foreign passport too). I know that would be in contravention of the T&Cs - but it seems like a loophole that I'd think would be closed.

My only guess is that the passport is a much simpler thing for ticket offices to look at, rather than decoding myriad proof of residency documents and so a passport is the requirement?
 
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bb21

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Am I meant to write the dates in this section? Is it somehow invalid without these dates marked in?
No, for a consecutive pass, you must not do that yourself.

If there is space for an expiry date, you may want to take it to a manned ticket office, and get a second stamp if the handwriting looks different to the first one.

Proof of residence should be sufficient for validation purposes, but passport is usually easier to identify. There are plenty of loopholes surrounding the use of BritRails a few foreign passport holders using them is the least of anyone's worries, given current uptake.
 

classicmds

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So at the moment there is neither start nor end date filled in but the stamp from Greater Anglia ticket office had date on it. Should they have filled in those boxes? Should I take it to manned office and get them both filled in?
 
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sheff1

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Also, thinking about the issue of passport versus proof of residence leads me to wonder why the initial requirement for validation of Britrail is a passport, and not proof of residency, given that the criteria for purchasing a pass is overseas residence not foreign nationality
Something I have often wondered myself. I know a number of UK residents who hold Irish passports. Some of them were born in the UK. Their passports prove nothing of relevance regarding entitlement to a Britrail pass.
 

bb21

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So at the moment there is neither start nor end date filled in but the stamp from Greater Anglia ticket office had date on it. Should they have filled in those boxes? Should I take it to manned office and get them both filled in?
That doesn't sound right to me, as these tickets come open-dated, so the actual validity must be filled in prior to use.

Are you able to upload a photo without personal details (name, nationality, ticket number, etc)?
 

classicmds

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Are you able to upload a photo without personal details (name, nationality, ticket number, etc)?
Yes, here it is. You'll see the Greater Anglia stamp with a date, but the "from" and "to" boxes empty.

This is the second pass I've used on this trip. The first was validated at Heathrow and they also left those boxes blank, so I just assumed the date stamp was sufficient.
 

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classicmds

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Just heard back from Rail Delivery Group about my query. They insist only a passport is proof of residency. Here is their reply:

I appreciate the point you are trying to highlight.

Passports are considered as important documents of evidence and are also the official form of identification in Britain. We would not recommend pass holders travelling with an ID card issued outside the UK as we do not use them in Britain. Our train managers as well as the members of staff at the ticket gates are trained to check Passports.

Also, if you look at your ticket wallet there is a section where you fill in your Passport number, which means that the BritRail pass holders will have to travel with their passports thereafter.


I have several comments on this reply. First, passports are not "the official form of identification in Britain," since there is no legal obligation to present a passport as a form of identity. It is one form of identity among many, and many not even suffice for all identification needs (e.g. to register with a GP I think they'd prefer a gas bill than a passport to prove residency). If National Rail want a passport, fine, but it is not to do with some official mandate from the Government...

Second, clearly the T&Cs need to be changed. Why do they use two different wordings for the same thing? For validation it says "to validate your pass, present it along with your passport" but for ticket checks it says you may be asked "at any time for proof of foreign residency". Why not say you may be asked "for your passport" if that is what is required, esp. as the passport does not in fact provide residency proof. By using a different term and not mentioning a passport it implies to me they may be wanting something othet than a passport!This seems very ambiguous and could land people in hot water.

Third, while there is indeed a space to fill in passport number nowhere on the pass does it say you are required to take your passport with you. Perhaps that is implied, but I was assuming this was to do with the initial validation.

I guess you could ask what's the big deal with simply not taking the passport, but I'd prefer not to travel with my passport, and thought the pass allowed this. If a passport is required, then that's the way it is; but I don't like being tripped up when I thought I'd followed what the T&Cs actually say, nor do I like thought of other visitors encountering same problem.
 
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jon0844

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I am resident in the UK but have dual nationality. What's to stop me just getting a pass and showing my foreign one? My wife only has a foreign passport and my son is dual nationality too. Perfect - passes for the whole family!

Seems a little flawed when they are restricting access to people not resident here!
 

classicmds

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What's to stop me just getting a pass and showing my foreign one?
The answer appears to be less than I thought, since they are asking for the wrong proof of identity!

A pass would have to get it delivered to a foreign address, which is the only thing I can see would prevent more people doing this.

A person doing this would also, of course, be in contravention of the terms of the ticket, which would probably carry consequences if discovered -- and it would also be a matter of personal conscience if someone bought knowing one s/he not eligible.
 

jon0844

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Given how we know people don't think much of defrauding the railway, I rather think they aren't going to be too concerned about that.

Getting the tickets sent to a foreign address might be trickier, but my wife could just use her parents address or I could use a cousin.

Like fake season tickets or travelcards, I wonder if the industry already has a problem that's bigger than it knows about?

(if not, maybe my post should be deleted as I've probably given some people ideas).
 

TUC

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I am left wondering how some of these gateline staff would respond to asking for a passport as evidence and being presented with a UK passport, from someone who genuinely lives overseas. The very evicence criteria lacks any logic.
 

bb21

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Like fake season tickets or travelcards, I wonder if the industry already has a problem that's bigger than it knows about?

(if not, maybe my post should be deleted as I've probably given some people ideas).
One crucial difference is obviously sales of genuine BritRail tickets can be tallied and monitored. Fake tickets cannot.

If we start talking about fake BritRails then all bets are off, but fraudsters probably have much more lucrative targets.
 

jon0844

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I think the solution is to check residency, such as a utility bill in the name of a person on the passport, drivers licence etc.

When you initially validate the ticket, you mark that residency has been confirmed with a stamp (perhaps also registered online that can be verified) and from then on, the passenger only needs their passport to prove that they are that person - the other stuff not needing to be checked again.
 

bb21

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Just heard back from Rail Delivery Group about my query. They insist only a passport is proof of residency. Here is their reply:

I appreciate the point you are trying to highlight.

Passports are considered as important documents of evidence and are also the official form of identification in Britain. We would not recommend pass holders travelling with an ID card issued outside the UK as we do not use them in Britain. Our train managers as well as the members of staff at the ticket gates are trained to check Passports.

Also, if you look at your ticket wallet there is a section where you fill in your Passport number, which means that the BritRail pass holders will have to travel with their passports thereafter.


I have several comments on this reply. First, passports are not "the official form of identification in Britain," since there is no legal obligation to present a passport as a form of identity. It is one form of identity among many, and many not even suffice for all identification needs (e.g. to register with a GP I think they'd prefer a gas bill than a passport to prove residency). If National Rail want a passport, fine, but it is not to do with some official mandate from the Government...

Second, clearly the T&Cs need to be changed. Why do they use two different wordings for the same thing? For validation it says "to validate your pass, present it along with your passport" but for ticket checks it says you may be asked "at any time for proof of foreign residency". Why not say you may be asked "for your passport" if that is what is required, esp. as the passport does not in fact provide residency proof. By using a different term and not mentioning a passport it implies to me they may be wanting something othet than a passport!This seems very ambiguous and could land people in hot water.

Third, while there is indeed a space to fill in passport number nowhere on the pass does it say you are required to take your passport with you. Perhaps that is implied, but I was assuming this was to do with the initial validation.

I guess you could ask what's the big deal with simply not taking the passport, but I'd prefer not to travel with my passport, and thought the pass allowed this. If a passport is required, then that's the way it is; but I don't like being tripped up when I thought I'd followed what the T&Cs actually say, nor do I like thought of other visitors encountering same problem.
The confusion between residency and nationality is quite common, so I'm not surprised that RDG have problems themselves. I'd say that if you can take your passport along with you, then it would very much reduce the likelihood of any hassle, given that everyone knows about them, but if not, then you may very occasionally have to argue your case.

The space where you fill in your passport details should be on the paper wallet (no more than a folded A3 100gsm paper ime) that your ticket should have arrived in. I haven't used one recently so not sure whether that has changed. The wallet should contain the terms and conditions of the pass and should be something carried along with you at all times. Come to think about it, my last one did say "passport number" on it so the confusion probably was always there.

I'm not sure what the best way forward is really, given the current state of affairs. Probably easiest just to carry your passport with you if you can. My personal experience when I used it before was that on the rare occasions (bar Euston gateline) when the pass was closely inspected, staff were more bothered whether it was my pass rather than establishing residence eligibility, so the driving licence mostly sufficed.

Yes, here it is. You'll see the Greater Anglia stamp with a date, but the "from" and "to" boxes empty.

This is the second pass I've used on this trip. The first was validated at Heathrow and they also left those boxes blank, so I just assumed the date stamp was sufficient.
Yes, that bit should have been filled in as otherwise the pass is open-dated. You do not want to be caught by a knowledgeable RPI and accused of deliberate fare evasion.

I did find previously that however most staff were not aware of this requirement in addition to stamping the pass, so had to be prompted.

... and at $384, the price doesn't seem to have changed much last few years. ;)

I think the solution is to check residency, such as a utility bill in the name of a person on the passport, drivers licence etc.

When you initially validate the ticket, you mark that residency has been confirmed with a stamp (perhaps also registered online that can be verified) and from then on, the passenger only needs their passport to prove that they are that person - the other stuff not needing to be checked again.
That is not a bad suggestion, now we just need all ticket office staff trained, only for them to forget when the odd pass holder presents themselves five years down the line. :p

(But seriously they can be briefed and the instructions placed in the iKB, like with all other official fares matters which are all there, but mostly ignored by staff - those few who are aware of its presence.)
 

classicmds

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. I'd say that if you can take your passport along with you, then it would very much reduce the likelihood of any hassle
Yes, now I'm aware of the presumption it will have to be a passport I am not going to get into an argument for the sake of it with gate staff.

And if National Rail want to stipulate a passport as the form of ID that must be used with a Britrail (even if this is somewhat iconsistent with their residency requirement) that's their prerogative. I suppose they could require all holders to wear funny hats if they wanted. It just needs to be stated clearly.

In fact, I just received a second reply back from RDG agreeing:

"The recognised form of identification on National Rail is Passport; however, as this is not conclusively stated in the Terms & Conditions of BritRail pass, I will ensure that this is updated shortly".



I got a ticket office to fill in the dates without a problem. II expect many visitors would probably not think to prompt the ticket office to fill in the dates, as they probably expect them to know what they were doing! Again, some kind of statement in the T&Cs along the lines of "please make sure the ticket office fill in the to and from dates" would help



Thanks for your help.
 
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InFoTan

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I am resident in the UK but have dual nationality. What's to stop me just getting a pass and showing my foreign one? My wife only has a foreign passport and my son is dual nationality too. Perfect - passes for the whole family!

Seems a little flawed when they are restricting access to people not resident here!
http://www.britrail.com/britrail-passes/eligibility-conditions-of-use/
You can buy a BritRail Pass if you are not a UK resident. Anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for the last six months or more is not entitled to buy a BritRail Pass.​

There's another discussion about eligibility for Britrail passes here: http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=137635 with many of the same issues raised about British passport holders who live overseas.
 

classicmds

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http://www.britrail.com/britrail-passes/eligibility-conditions-of-use/
You can buy a BritRail Pass if you are not a UK resident. Anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for the last six months or more is not entitled to buy a BritRail Pass.​

Yes, it's against the T&Cs. But I think the point here is to observe it seems strange that no-one ever actually checks residency. Also, although the eligibility says it is available to residents overseas, only a passport will suffice to prove this. So it is not, actually, available to anyone who lives overseas, but actually to those who live overseas and possess a foreign passport.

There's another discussion about eligibility for Britrail passes here: http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?t=137635 with many of the same issues raised about British passport holders who live overseas.​
And that discussion is a bit inconclusive. For example in that discussion bb21 says "It is best to carry some form of proof...of foreign residence" and you also say the same thing. Which is what I thought would suffice.

In fact, as VT ticket staff told me, and RDG confirmed to me, only a passport will be accepted as proof of foreign residence on National Rail. (That's not to say that staff might not accept some other form of identity, just that if they did not, it seems you would not get any backing from RDG/Britrail retailer that they -- not you -- were in the wrong).

This means someone with foreign residence who does not have a foreign passport would not necessarily be able to use the pass (despite meeting the eligibility criteria for buying it of having foreign residency).

Of course, as someone in that other discussion also raised, it's not clear if any request by a ticket inspector of a passport is actually being used to confirm foreign residency (as the T&Cs imply), or merely to confirm identity. If the latter a UK Passport (or driving license) would, ironically, seem to suffice....
 
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greatkingrat

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I think the solution is to check residency, such as a utility bill in the name of a person on the passport, drivers licence etc.

When you initially validate the ticket, you mark that residency has been confirmed with a stamp (perhaps also registered online that can be verified) and from then on, the passenger only needs their passport to prove that they are that person - the other stuff not needing to be checked again.
The problem is it is not practical for railway staff to be expected to try and verify proof of residency when any such proof is likely to be in a language that they don't understand.
 

InFoTan

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...that discussion is a bit inconclusive. For example in that discussion bb21 says "It is best to carry some form of proof...of foreign residence" and you also say the same thing. Which is what I thought would suffice.
Yes, because it doesn't make sense for them to say that you need proof of residence and then say that they will only accept passports!

One of the companies selling Britrail passes did announce that they were only available to holders of non-UK passports, but that's not what it says in the official conditions of use. My worry is that they will end up changing the rules so it based on nationality (because it's simpler), but of course that doesn't work either because there are many residents of the UK with other passports.

The most logical solution would be to require the proof of overseas residence to be submitted when you purchase the ticket. They could (randomly?) check these, and ask for more information if it's not clear. Then the passport can be used as proof of identity.

If they eventually eliminate the current paper tickets in favour of the Smartphone app (or print standard tickets that can be scanned and will operate gates) they will be able to track usage more effectively and presumably identify anything "suspicious".
 

classicmds

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The most logical solution would be to require the proof of overseas residence to be submitted when you purchase the ticket.
Yes, I agree. It would make most sense for the vendor to check residency, and then for any checks in the UK to be about establishing identity (i.e. is the person named on the pass the one actually using it?) rather than residency (let alone nationality).

The requirement in the UK would then simply be for any photo ID which displays the name printed on the pass. Given this would just be a photo and a name it seems it would be fairly easy to check without getting into reading foreign addresses. Of course a lot of the time this would probably be a passport, but could also be driving license, government ID card etc. Such a thing could be faked, I suppose, but then so could a passport if you really wanted, since no inspector is actually running the passport through any kind of check for authenticity.
 
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John @ home

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My worry is that they will end up changing the rules so it based on nationality
My opinion is that providing a service where the cost depends on the customer's nationality risks being found to contravene the Equalities Act 2015.
 

U-Bahnfreund

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Hello, this thread gave me a few questions. My father and I will be travelling with a Britrail Pass in a few weeks and we both don't hold a passport, but only a German ID card (Personalausweis). The ID card contains a photo and also the address. Should I be worried that this won't be accepted? I don't think we'd be able to get real passports before we leave as it always takes ages to get them at the Bürgeramt.
 
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classicmds

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My opinion is that providing a service where the cost depends on the customer's nationality risks being found to contravene the Equalities Act 2015.
I think they'd say they are providing the service (i.e. selling the ticket) on the basis of residence not nationality but, to quote the Rail Delivery Group, "The recognised form of identification on National Rail is Passport".

In other words, it doesn't matter your nationality, as long as you have a passport. From this, of course, it is not clear if they actually require a foreign passport. Even the bit on the T&Cs that mentions taking your passport to the ticket office to get validated doesn't specify what kind of passport.

Perhaps someone on here works on the railways can answer: what would a validating ticket office do if presented with a UK passport? Are they looking for a "foreign" passport, or just an official form of identity when stamping the pass?
 

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