1978


Highlights
January: Last working of an advertised scheduled Class 24 passenger train.
February: Bad weather throughout the month, trains stranded in Scotland.
April: More Class 25 turns replaced at St Blazey.
May: Scheduled HST workings begin on ECML.
June: Summer diagrams see plenty of Class 24 activity on North Wales mainline.
July: 25278 escapes from Tyne Yard after two months out of service.
September: 25171 destroyed at Arbroath, 25011 visits Paignton.
November: 25210 tested on Tunstead limestone services, 24047 withdrawn.
December: Swindon breaks up its last Class 24, the year ends with more bad weather.

January 6th saw 24137 moved from Bescot to Toton for use in rerailing exercises, the following week it was noted lying on its side! Better times were still with 24082 & 24133, they worked a St Pancras - Liverpool charter on January 14th via Leicester and Nuneaton. Harking back to earlier times, 24081 & 24087 were on the Shotton iron ore working on January 13th. On a rainy overcast January 21st 24133 had an unusual duty being used on the last advertised passenger working of the Class 44’s, working the Crewe - Chester leg behind 44008 to provide heating following the non-appearance of the heater van. January had been something of an unsettled windy wet month. A major storm on January 11/12th caused much flooding on the East Coast, with the storm surge demolishing Margate pier.

The last scheduled advertised passenger working of the Class 24’s occurred on January 27th, titled the ‘Cambrian Coast Express’, the Euston - Birmingham portion handled by 86224, the remainder of the trip powered by the Class 24’s, all was not well however as the multiple unit capability had failed, with a second driver assisting from Wolverhampton.

The Crewe - Cardiff services suffered from indifferent reliability during the month. January 12th found the 19.23 Crewe - Cardiff at Hereford with a Class 50 leading an expired Class 25, two days later 25038 failed on the 17.00 Cardiff - Crewe, with 37294 coming to the rescue.

Mid January found two boilered Class 37’s transferred to Eastfield, 37108 & 37111, intended to bring greater reliability to the West Highland line services.

The month end brought gales and blizzards to the Highlands of Scotland, beginning on the afternoon of January 28th. The Inverness - Aberdeen line was the only one in the area to remain open. The down ‘Clansman’ had reached Aviemore before being reversed and rerouted via Perth, Dundee & Aberdeen. Crossing the 17.40 Edinburgh - Inverness at Kingussie the Inverness passengers transferred to the ‘Clansman’, the 17.40 gingerly going forward as a local to Carr Bridge. A brave attempt to go further led to the train and its two Class 26’s becoming stuck, literally within view of Carr Bridge station. A rescue attempt by two locomotives also failed, the passengers off the 17.40 spending the night at Carr Bridge station. On the nearby A9 twenty motorists abandoned their vehicles for the safety of a cottage at Slochd. An engineers train also became stuck between Dalwhinnie & Dalnaspidal. On the Aultguish - Ullapool road a British Airways helicopter rescued twenty passengers from a stranded bus, whilst in Glencoe ninety motorists found haven in closed hotel

North of Inverness conditions were worse. The 17.15 Inverness - Wick/Thurso derailed the last five coaches after hitting a drift at Forsinard. This train had started out with 26037, to which was added 26039 at Helmsdale, this locomotive having worked down from Georgemas Junction in an effort to keep the line clear and to assist the northbound service The pair of Class 26’s and the undamaged leading coach were detached and proceeded forward only to become completely stuck in the snow at Altnabreac. Passengers on the train included a man with a broken leg and another recovering from kidney surgery. Judicious use of the fuel supply on the engines kept the carriage heated until the next morning, when the driver, Stewart Munro and second man James Forbes struggled through nine foot drifts back to Forsinard to raise the alarm. By late morning 26031, stabled at Georgemas off the previous day’s freight from Inverness made an attempt to head south. It quickly returned to pick up a van, some volunteer staff and supplies for the stranded passengers. On this second attempt they reached to within two miles of the trapped train, allowing a young railway employee to reach the stranded passengers bringing hot soup. Once the exact location was known the seventy stranded passengers were eventually airlifted in six shuttles using an RAF helicopter from Lossiemouth and two commercial helicopters. They were operating in near white out conditions with the winds still gusting to 65mph.

By Thursday the line south of Helmsdale was cleared for traffic, it would not be until the following weekend that the derailed coaches would be dealt with. The Highland mainline remained closed until Tuesday, the ‘Clansman’ continuing to be diverted via Aberdeen due to the Class 47’s not being snow plough equipped and to prevent snow ingestion into the coaches airconditioning systems.

Early February found Laira drivers training with 37142. The arrival of 25212 on the Peterborough - Liverpool St parcels at Ipswich on February 11th was nothing unusual, except that the March driver left the train with no local crew qualified to operate the Class 25. A Class 31 was found to remove the unlucky locomotive.

The weather again made the headlines commencing the second week of February. From 7th cold air invaded from the east, bringing with it much snow, six inches in Kent (9th), a foot at Newcastle (13th) and Edinburgh (12th) with temperatures dropping to minus 17F at the latter. The freezing conditions at Newcastle caused considerable dislocation of stock due to points failures and frozen up stock at Heaton. Icicles in Haltwhistle tunnel broke the cab windows of 37194 on February 19th whilst running light from Carlisle.

Heavy snow fell between February 18th - 20th with the south & west bearing the brunt of the storm. Fourteen inches fell at Exeter and Cardiff with snow drifting to 25 feet on Dartmoor and Exmoor. By mid afternoon traffic was seriously disrupted west of Bristol. The 14.40 Leeds - Plymouth was cancelled at Taunton, the 16.30 Paddington - Plymouth picked up those passengers, and was noted passing Newton Abbot at 01.30am! Exeter made use of steam lance equipped 45065 to free numerous points in the area. The snow eventually closed the Westbury - Castle Cary - Taunton line and the Barnstaple and Exmouth branches. Out of Westbury the Salisbury and Weymouth lines were also closed. A ‘Deltic to Devon’, Paddington - Bristol - Kingswear special with 55018 on February 18th was turned round at Bristol due to the worsening conditions. On February 20th Finsbury Park based 31101 & 31202, with snowploughs cleared the Barnstaple and Exmouth branches. The heavy snow in the South Wales area had prevented any services running in the Tondu area on February 20th.

On the Southern the 19th saw the Bournemouth - Weymouth main line and Lymington branch closed because of snow, service not being resumed until the afternoon of 20th. Further east snow on 16th & 17th affected the coastal services, with the 05.15 Brighton - Portsmouth Harbour reaching its destination five hours late. Diesel haulage was resorted to on routes coming out of the south coast towns. In addition electric units were strengthened simply to apply brute force to the problem. By February 23rd a thaw had set in with flooding now becoming the problem!

The lines out of Liverpool Street were bedevilled by several factors: the cold weather, heavy demands on oil traffic from the local refineries and the simply bizarre, permanent way work in the Bethnal Green area had raised track levels leading to the banning of those Class 37’s with roof mounted horns (37118 upwards)! Electric traction on the Liverpool - Southport services were affecting by freezing rain on February 21st.

Carriage heating unit TDB968008 (24054) was noted at Newton Abbott on March 5th.

March 9th brought trouble to the Wembley area when the engineers train led by 25236 had three wagons become derailed as they split the trap points on leaving the up loop. Both slow lines were blocked, Willesden had to borrow 25179 from Cricklewood to attend with the breakdown crane, which was in fact not needed, the errant wagons being rerailed by other means.

March 11th saw four military specials run from Rosyth to Ludgershall. All changed locomotives at Newcastle, 1Z72 arrived behind 40030 and left with 25066 (HA) & 25232 (ED), this pair had brought in 1Z73 surrendering that to 47273. A strange manouvre assuming it is reported properly, which would suggest that the pair of 25’s were the only machines to make the whole trip, but having worked two separate trains!

25148 & 25163 arrived in Reading on an engineer’s ballast train on March 16th, surprisingly having brought the train from Bristol, quickly returning from whence they came, light engines.

March 30th saw 25229 bring twelve bogie rotary iron ore tippler wagons from Mossend to Ardrossan Harbour, prior to testing the new equipment at the Hunterston ore terminal. The next day 25086 replaced a failed 27009 at Dundee whilst working the 19.35 Glasgow Queen Street - Aberdeen, unfortunately the Class 25 expired at Arbroath, the train terminated with passengers transferring to an ex Kings Cross service.

Doncaster Works was closed due to an industrial dispute for most of April, preventing the cutting up of the Class 24’s for a short while, and seriously affecting the numbers of Class 55’s available for traffic.

April 1st found 25201 with five coaches working a railtour out of Liverpool Lime Street to various locations on the Wirral peninsula. Reversals were necessary at West Kirby & New Brighton, with 25294 being added to the rear between Birkenhead North & Heswall. Also in the area was 25293 & 40110 handling the Bangor - Manchester parcels, the train including two refurbished Derby two car dmu’s. On April 15th a Brighton - Blaneau Ffestiniog excursion arrived at Llandudno Junction behind 47436, the last portion of the trip going forward behind 24082 & 25043.

During April more Class 25 turns at St Blazey were turned over to other types, with Class 37/46/50 frequently replacing the Type 2’s. 37142 & 37267 were crew training on the St Blazey - Newquay line, whilst a former Class 25 turn, the shunting at Hayle Wharf was now in the hands of a Penzance Class 08. The use of Class 25’s on the Cardiff - Crewe seemed to be in the minority during April with Class 31/37/40/46 and dmu’s all substituting, though towards month end more consistent Type 2 working returned.

Whilst working April 4th’s 8F15 from Falkland Junction 25098 became derailed at Shewalton Moss, completely blocking the Kilmarnock - Barassie line, causing delays to a couple of services. A Chesterfield - Ardrossan Harbour party special on April 8th completed its journey behind 26042 & 25233. The 16.50 Glasgow Queen Street - Edinburgh, regularly diagrammed for MkII vacuum braked stock, resulted in quite a variety of haulage including Inverness Type 2’s, examples noted were 26018 (4th), 26021 (17th) and 25065 (14th). On this day the 15.22 Dundee - Edinburgh dmu had failed and arrived at its destination behind 25050. April 16th saw 25239 & 27012 handle a Nottingham - Mallaig MLST railtour from Mossend, taking over from 86014. It is not recorded how far they ran over the West Highland, though most workings of this nature changed locomotives at Fort William to avoid running out of fuel somewhere on the return trip.

April 21st found 25067 & 25036 on a St. Pancras - York railtour, the return trip using the ECML as far as Newark, where the freight only Bottesford branch was taken. On April 25th the 17.35 Northampton - Three Spires Junction freight derailed two wagons, damaging track from 1½ miles on the Northampton line, the two locomotives, 25117 & 25190 were not involved.

More passenger duty befell 24047 on April 29th when the 16.00 Crewe - Cardiff failed at Donington behind 25058, the Class 24 taking the train as far as Hereford where 47358 took the train forward.

The annual Flower Parade at Spalding on May 6th saw twenty specials arrive, only one being Class 25 hauled, that from Swansea featured 25073 & 25074. Two days later brought regular scheduled working of the first of the new HST sets on the ECML. Initially six sets were in use, four sets on Kings Cross - Edinburgh workings, the other two on Kings Cross - Newcastle’s. Concurrently the Hull and Yorkshire Pullmans were discontinued, a number of the Pullman coaches were later noted in use on LM Motorail services.

Local services in the Edinburgh area continued to see the dmu services supplanted by hauled stock. May 1st brought 25240 on an unidentified working into Edinburgh whilst later that day 25246 handled the 17.30 Edinburgh - Cardenden. On May 6th 25247 was noted in charge of the 17.10 Edinburgh - Newcastle, a working which seemed capable of being hauled by anything Haymarket could turn out, including dmu’s. This was also the day of the Scottish Cup Final between Glasgow Rangers & Aberdeen at Hampden Park, with five specials scheduled. The 09.30am left behind 25072 & 25087, the 10.00 had 25227 & 25033 whilst the other three featured 40167, 40063 & 40159.

The Spring Bank holiday (May 27th) found 25129 & 25136 on the 08.02 Walsall - Plymouth. The Yarmouth services from Walsall & Derby featured a number of Class 31’s and Class 47’s this season, 25271 & 25280 handled the Derby service on June 3rd with 25303 & 25309 on June 17th. That same weekend pairs of Class 25’s were common on the North Wales coast, May 29th saw 25184 & 25196 on 09.20 Manchester - Llandudno and 17.20 return, 25297 & 25272 on 11.11 Manchester - Holyhead. A seasonal diagram featured the 09.42 Llandudno - Manchester, 13.30 return, 16.42 Llandudno - Crewe, 20.30 Crewe - Bangor and 22.45 return as far as Llandudno. On May 25th 24082 operated this diagram throughout, continuing onto the next day’s, but was replaced at Chester by 25161 whilst on the 13.30 ex Manchester. A little further south the reliability of the Cardiff - Crewe was still troubling. May 30th found 25219 expiring on the 15.08 Cardiff - Crewe, with 37292 assisting at Hereford. Meanwhile 25043 failed near Dinmore Tunnel on the 16.00 Crewe - Cardiff, 47042 on the following parcels pushed the train into Moreton on Lugg.

A Lincoln - Fort William ‘Merrymaker’ on June 3rd reached Cowlairs on time behind 47218, here 25062 & 25230 took over, only to be replaced at Dumbarton Central by 25246 & 27029. On the climb to Glen Falloch 25246 lost its coolant, being replaced at Crianlarich by 25232 which had been travelling south. Arrival at Fort William was over two hours late. Despite careful examination of these two machines prior to the return working 25232 failed whilst on the climb to Corrour. The Class 25 was left here, 27029 continued single handed to Bridge of Orchy where 27043, sent from Eastfield was attached. Time was gained from this point onwards with 47218 waiting at Cowlairs to head south.

June 11th saw a number of extra locomotive hauled workings over the Cambrian route. 25150 & 25263 were in charge of the regular Birmingham - Barmouth, a special from Plymouth to Aberystwyth had 25067 & 25277 from Birmingham, 25131 & 25310 ran throughout from Wellingborough to Aberystwyth, whilst a Bristol - Portmadog had 40004 from Birmingham.

June 8th & 14th saw 24023 & 24081 on the Shotwick iron ore workings. The 07.58 Peterborough - Kings Cross suffered problems at Huntingdon with 31201, so 25136 assisted into Kings Cross.

Breakfast time on June 27th found the 03.58 Ripple Lane - Hawksbury oil train derailing five of its wagons at the site of Brandon & Wolston station (between Coventry & Rugby), destroying several hundred yards of the down line. The rerailing coach from Saltley arrived quickly behind 25142, the line being cleared early on 28th, leaving room for 25116 & 25190 to bring in a train of fresh ballast.

March provided Haymarket based 25035 to take forward the 14.52 Liverpool Street - Edinburgh parcels on July 4th.

The addition summer services and holiday extras provided plenty of unusual diesel haulage on the North Wales line, but the star turn was still the diagram commencing with the 09.42 Llandudno - Manchester (see May notes). June 28th - 30th & July 3rd & 4th saw 24082 on this diagram, July 6th & 7th had 24023. On July 10th 24047 got as far as Chester on 16.42 to Crewe, being replaced by 40145. July 11th & 12th saw 24023 again except it was replaced on the 20.30 Crewe - Bangor by 24063, getting only got as far as Chester before 24035 took over, which succumbed at Llandudno Junction! On July 19th 24047 worked only the first trip. An unidentified Class 24 handled the 11.11 Manchester - Holyhead and 18.05 Holyhead - Euston on July 12th.

The British Open Golf Championship at St Andrews (July 12th - 15th) brought a number of additional loco hauled trains to Leuchars station each day. July 15th saw 25007 arrive from Edinburgh, 20109 from Glasgow and a dmu from Perth.

A Class 25 diagram frequently bringing pairs of Toton Type 2’s to the Manchester area commenced with the 22.12 Nottingham - Sheffield, 00.38 Sheffield - Manchester (ex-17.58 Cambridge - Liverpool parcels), 03.15 Manchester Victoria - Southport, 05.30 Southport - Wigan ecs. Here one handled ballast in the Warrington area, the other a similar duty at Wigan. They returned together to work the 18.08 Manchester - St Pancras parcels!

July 22nd found Newton Abbott host to 25276 & 25282 bringing up an ecs working from Paignton, previously used on an ex Birmingham working. The same day 25278 finally made its escape from Tyne Yard after having been laid up there since May 26th with a bad wheel set. The Gateshead crane was used to install a set during mid July.

The 6L27 Mountsorrel - Radlett stone special of August 1st was in the hands of 25113 & 31244. Class 31’s were still first choice on the Birmingham - Norwich services, but Class 25’s frequently substituted, on August 19th 25131 handled the 10.15 to Norwich, whilst 25115 assisted failed 31276 on August 9th. Further north the 17.10 Manchester - Blackpool, normally a Class 40 turn in summer was hauled by 25070 (July 31st) and 25100 (August 14th). 25284 handled the 09.20 Lancaster - Barrow and 11.04 return (to Crewe) on August 10th. On a longer distance train 25272 & 25299 worked the 16.22 Newcastle - Cardiff on August 18th. 25023 was in charge of the 11.03 Perth - Edinburgh on August 19th, though it is not known if it handled the scheduled 12.50 return. Four days later it was noted with 27021 on the 17.44 Oban - Glasgow. An Open Day at Coalville on August 20th featured a selection of locomotives including 25079 & 40076 brought over specially from Derby Works.

The Doncaster - Muir of Ord grain train, frequently a ScR Class 40 was noted north of Newcastle behind 25034 & 20219 on August 26th. Four days later 25247 working the 06.22 Thornton Yard - Craiginches hit a GPO van stuck on a minor crossing at Barrowfield (Montrose). Fortunately no injuries occurred and the line was cleared within 1 ½ hours.

The stock off the 07.25 Plymouth - Edinburgh is cleaned externally at Craigentinny but is then forwarded to Stirling for internal servicing, normally handled by a Haymarket Class 26, however on September 7th Springs Branch based 25213 made the trip. A surprising visitor on the 15.55 Bristol - Plymouth parcels on September 7th was Haymarket based 25011, which worked as far as Exeter, replaced here by 25155. However it continued its westward march by working the 19.30 Exeter - Paignton!. Visitors to Kings Lynn off the Whitemoor freight have included 25131 on September 11th and 25264 the next day.

September 22nd turned out to be the final day for 25171. Whilst hauling a ten wagon ballast train southbound at Arbroath the train ran out of control and was diverted into the goods yard since both main lines were occupied. It demolished the buffer stops and impacted the retaining wall causing major structural damage to the locomotive, not helped by two of the now derailed ballast wagons demolishing the rear of 25171. The guard and driver’s assistant jumped to safety, the driver taking refuge in the engine room.

September 23rd found 25245 & 25275 working a Birmingham N.S. - Paignton relief . The 18.25 Morecambe - Leeds had 25293 hauling a two car dmu on the 25th, two days later the 19.30 Huddersfield - Wakefield Kirkgate parcels was in the hands of 24047.

With the close of summer only four Class 24's remained intact at Swindon - 24079, 24084, 24085 & 24134. By the end of September 24079 & 24134 had been scrapped, 24085 followed in October leaving 24084 as the last Class 24 at Swindon Works, it would be gone by late November/eary December. It would now be left to Doncaster Works to break up the remaining survivors.

Stone traffic from Mountsorrell to Kennett was now handled by new, air braked high capacity wagons. The second trip on October 4th ran behind 25249 & 25301 and twenty four wagons. A week later Laira based 25155 was at the nearby sugar beet plant at Ely. That same day (11th) 24063 was noted at Healey Mills.

An excursion out of Marylebone on October 14th was handled by 25040 & 31273, the locomotives having come light from Bescot, with 40018 taking over for the Nuneaton - Rotherwood leg. The round trip over the Woodhead route was handled by 76049 with 40018 coming back on at Rotherwood for the run to March where 40067 took over for the return to London.

On October 26th 25136 worked the 17.18 Kings Cross - Peterborough passenger.

On November 8th ex-works 25210 was tested at Northwich on the Tunstead limestone service, working the 17.21 Oakleigh - Tunstead and return followed by the 02.57 Northwich - Tunstead. It then beat a hasty retreat to Longsight for repairs, not unexpected after dealing with these 1,250 ton trains. Further testing on 28th didn’t improve matters, it failed at Hazel Grove on the 11.03 Oakleigh - Tunstead, being removed to Buxton and then forwarded to Derby Works.

The new GLC Freightliner Refuse Terminal at Brent received a trail run on November 8th with 25249 in charge, regular service to Stewartby commenced November 23rd behind 45045. On November 13th 24082 worked the 11.41 Garston - Margam empties as far as Hereford. The locomotive off the 13.08 Bescot - Gloucester freight, booked for a Class 47, was used for the 15.15 Plymouth - Manchester passenger north of Gloucester. This led to a considerable variety of power on this working, ranging from Class 20’s to Class 37’s and combinations of each. Should a Class 47 be unavailable the train normally required banking assistance up Lickey. Likewise the 11.15 Gloucester - Swindon parcels saw much variety including 25267 in early November, this locomotive would go forward on the 15.40 Swindon - Bescot freight.

Early November brought a variety of Class 25’s to Kings Lynn, the 14.47 Whitemoor - Kings Lynn had 25143 (9th) whilst a block oil train for the sugar beet factory had 25212 & 25310 (8th), deputising for a defective 37264. From 13th three more GN services became HST hauled, now with twelve up and ten down regularly scheduled.

Nineteen years of service came to an end for 24047 on November 11th when it burnt out its main generator at Mickle Trafford whilst working the 08.39 Shotwick - Stoke freight. It was assisted to Northwich by 40020, where it was left on shed. 40125 towed it away on November 15th in the 22.44 Northwich - Bescot freight, being taken out at Stoke and dragged alone to Crewe by 40125. By December 13th it was on its way to Doncaster Works accompanying 24035. December 5th found 25067 & 25114 in charge of the 39 vehicle 21.50 Northampton - Willesden freight, whilst passing through Tring thirteen of them derailed, three overturning, closing the slow lines for four days. Little better was December 16th when a return Mountsorrell - Radlett working became derailed on leaving Radlett in charge of 25258 & 31299, the slow lines blocked for seven hours. On a different note a shortage of dmu’s at Etches Park found the evening Matlock services in the hands of a Class 25 with a nine unheated Mk1 coaches in tow. Two days later (18th) 25063 disgraced itself on the 11.30 Cardiff - Crewe, rescued by 47017 but over an hour late into Crewe. Also on passenger duty was 25322 assisting the local dmu on the Windermere branch on November 13th.

November 18th found the 20.50 Tyne - York behind 31233 & 25069 whilst five days later the 19.30 York - Edinburgh parcels was powered by 25239.

The All Blacks Rugby international at Murrayfield on December 9th found four specials running between Glasgow Queen St & Edinburgh, 25226 hauled the last one, 27005/11/20 the first three. Sister engine 25227 was involved in a debacle on November 27th involving the 09.45 Aberdeen - Glasgow Queen St beginning when 47272 failed at Camperdown Jcn, Dundee’s Class 08 pilot was first to assist but a vacuum fault rendered it useless, 26045 off a nearby ballast working brought the entourage into Dundee. 25227 had been procured to take the train forward but promptly failed and was replaced by 27032. This succeeded in becoming a partial failure near Perth, requiring assistance from 26036, finally departing Perth over one hundred minutes late.

After 47500 failed at Bristol on December 27th with the 13.55 Glasgow - Taunton, the only available power was 25298 & 25318 for the run west.

The year closed out with bad weather in the Midlands and North East. Walsall station, as usual, was flooded after torrential rain on December 29th. Heavy snow over the New Year plagued services with delays and faulty equipment made life even more difficult to maintain the timetable. In the West Country Exeter proved to be a graveyard for frozen up locomotives, with temperatures reaching down to -13C most things simply froze up. The 00.05 Paddington - Penzance was reported eighteen hours late at Plymouth, the local services out of Exeter were cancelled since the dmu’s were frozen solid. Exeter contained eighteen frozen up locomotives including 25052, 25206/225/263, the only serviceable machine being 46020, which had been equipped with steam lances for the freeing of pointwork and rodding.

On the SR heavy snow fell on December 30th & 31st causing many equipment related failures especially snow blowing into the electrical equipment and the seasonal problems of shoegear failures on the Bournemouth line REP units. On the SE Division the heavy snow was followed by strong winds which brought the problem of drifting snow, a condition not normally associated with the south. One line so affected was the Ashford - Canterbury West - Minster line, which required the services of a snowplough. The GE lines faired no better, heavy snow disrupting Thornton Fields carriage sidings, causing considerable stock disruption. This resulted in the 10.30 Liverpool Street - Norwich running with a six car dmu of Derby/Cravens units. The Shoeburyness - Pitsea line had snow two feet deep on December 30th, being cleared by the Stratford plough on New Years Day.

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