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Old 12-01-2008, 09:55 PM   #21
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

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Originally Posted by czsz View Post
Sorry if I wasn't clear. I only meant that extremely long-distance (read: coast to coast length routes) would never really be competitive. Even in Europe no single high speed line is longer than Paris-Marseille, which does not begin to compare to, say, Boston-Seattle. I think New York-Chicago is the longest line that could really be competitive in the US.
I guess I wasn't clear-when I said Boston-Seattle and the other coast to coast routes, I intended for stops to be included in all major cities along the way. Boston-Seattle, for example, would include Boston to NYC to Cleveland to Chicago to Omaha to Seattle, possibly with a few minor stops along the way.
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:16 PM   #22
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

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Thursday, April 16th, 2009 at 12:20 pm
A Vision for High Speed Rail
"I'm happy to be here. I?m more happy than you can imagine," said the Vice President, a noted rail enthusiast, before introducing the President for the release of his strategic plan for high speed rail in America. Revolving around the $8 billion in the Recovery Act and the $1 billion per year for five years requested in the President?s budget to get these projects off the ground, the President painted the picture that will become a reality as a result of these investments:
What we're talking about is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city. No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. (Laughter.) Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination. Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America.

Now, all of you know this is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future. It is now. It is happening right now. It's been happening for decades. The problem is it's been happening elsewhere, not here.

In France, high-speed rail has pulled regions from isolation, ignited growth, remade quiet towns into thriving tourist destinations. In Spain, a high-speed line between Madrid and Seville is so successful that more people travel between those cities by rail than by car and airplane combined. China, where service began just two years ago, may have more miles of high-speed rail service than any other country just five years from now. And Japan, the nation that unveiled the first high-speed rail system, is already at work building the next: a line that will connect Tokyo with Osaka at speeds of over 300 miles per hour. So it's being done; it's just not being done here.

There's no reason why we can't do this. This is America. There's no reason why the future of travel should lie somewhere else beyond our borders. Building a new system of high-speed rail in America will be faster, cheaper and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already overburdened aviation system ?- and everybody stands to benefit.
The inclusion of high speed rail in the Recovery Act was one of many symbols of the new vision for America and its economy that guided the plan. As the Vice President explained in his introduction, joined by Transportation Secretary LaHood, in addition to putting Americans to work across the country it went towards several the Recovery Act?s key goals:
And we're making a down payment today, a down payment on the economy for tomorrow, the economy that's going to drive us in the 21st century in a way that the other -- the highway system drove us in the mid-20th century. And I'm happy to be here. I'm more happy than you can imagine -- (laughter) -- to talk about a commitment that, with the President's leadership, we're making to achieve the goal through the development of high-speed rail projects that will extend eventually all across this nation. And most of you know that not only means an awful lot to me, but I know a lot of you personally in this audience over the years, I know it means equally as much to you.

With high-speed rail system, we're going to be able to pull people off the road, lowering our dependence on foreign oil, lowering the bill for our gas in our gas tanks. We're going to loosen the congestion that also has great impact on productivity, I might add, the people sitting at stop lights right now in overcrowded streets and cities. We're also going to deal with the suffocation that's taking place in our major metropolitan areas as a consequence of that congestion. And we're going to significantly lessen the damage to our planet. This is a giant environmental down payment.
The report formalizes the identification of ten high-speed rail corridors as potential recipients of federal funding. Those lines are: California, Pacific Northwest, South Central, Gulf Coast, Chicago Hub Network, Florida, Southeast, Keystone, Empire and Northern New England. Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston to compete for funds to improve the nation?s only existing high-speed rail service:
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:56 PM   #23
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

The "Other" passenger rail routes - the non high-speed ones - are rather few and far between on the map. It would seem that there should be more conventional rail routes to connect major cities in those corridors not covered by proposed high speed rail.
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:41 PM   #24
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Again, the weird arbitrariness with the routes. Why is there a branch for Savannah and Columbia, SC, but no connection between the Southeast system and Florida, or between the Keystone/Empire and Chicago hub? If not through trains on these routes, why not give someone the option to at least connect between networks?

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The first thing we need to do is change the definition of "High Speed Rail" in this country. Calling the NE Corridor "high speed" is embarrassing.
Agreed, although note that Obama, in his speech, referenced systems that are far speedier than Acela as benchmarks, and the NEC is allowed to compete for funds in the pool for its own improvements.
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Old 04-17-2009, 08:15 AM   #25
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Hope they can make this vision "affordable", unlike now. $109-$140 from Boston to New York on Acella? I'll pass. I'd say $60-$80 range is a fair price...

Notice how they're not proposing anything going to Las Vegas .. the infamous train to nowhere. What about Phoenix, and Albuquerque, Sante Fe ... or evening connecting the high speed line from San Francisco to Portland? Actually now that I look closer, connect Jacksonville to Orlando and Buffalo/{Pittsburgh to Cleavland. Make it more continuous.
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:04 AM   #26
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Mapquest tells me it takes 6 hours and 41 minutes to get by car from my home in Charlotte to my preferred hotel in Washington, DC. Having done this frequently, I can verify that this just about exactly right. If they occur, traffic jams on the interstate can add as much as an hour to this time. I hate the drive: boring, ugly, stressful, infested with trucks. The distance is 398 miles.

To make the same trip door to door by air takes me 4-1/2 hours if there are no delays. This includes airport transportation and allowing time for the security search. So I save 2 hours and 11 minutes. I hate to fly: uncomfortable, stressful, and somewhat dangerous during the hour you?re actually in the air.

By train, I?m forced to depart at 7:40 a.m. or not at all. The train is scheduled to arrive in Washington 13-1/4 hours later at 8:58 (an average of 30.0 mph), but it?s almost always late --sometimes by several hours. Though the train is pleasant transport, this is a ridiculous way to travel, and it becomes stressful as the train gets further behind schedule. Including transportation to/from the stations, you have to allocate 14-1/2 hours door to door even if the train is right on time. More than twice as long as driving, and over three times flying.

If the train took an hour longer door to door as driving, and it gave me a second option for departure, I would use it every time. This means it would have to get from Charlotte?s station to Washington?s in 6 hours and 40 minutes. To do that, it would have to progress at an average speed of 59.7 mph, including stops --the same speed as driving. This is routinely achieved by European trains that no one refers to as ?high speed.?

I never mentioned cost. Driving is cheapest, the plane is half again as much. If the train were faster and reliable and cost the same as the plane, I'd take it every time.
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Old 05-03-2009, 09:19 AM   #27
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

From SSC:

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Originally Posted by Metropolitan View Post
We often hear people saying that the US is too large and its population density too low to make an HSR network viable.

Here's a map showing both Eastern US and Western Europe at the same scale. In red, you can see European HSR network. As you can see, a system as extensive as the one currently existing in Europe would be already far enough to serve most of US HSR needs.




In looking at that map, I realized how much we actually underestimate European distances compared to US distances. For instance, we imagine Boston and Miami to be incredibly far away, but Boston is actually closer to Miami than Hamburg is to Sevilla ! Both European cities being actually served with high speed rail...

I think that if we don't realize that European distances aren't that small, it's because of two major problems: First, half of the US is empty (all the Rockies and desert states) and can thus be ignored here. Second, Europe has a very weird shape with tons of islands and peninsulas. As such, there are tons of water in Europe (North sea, Med sea, Adriatic sea, Baltic sea), which are of course not counted in land area but which don't put Helsinki, Palermo or Edinburgh any closer.
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:55 PM   #28
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

These European HSR networks are ostensibly connected, but they really work more like short-corridor or hub-and-spoke systems as are proposed for the Midwest and Texas. It's still true that most of the country, even in the east (including places like the Ohio valley and the Carolinas' Atlantic Coast) are too spread-thin and depopulated for viable routes, and that long-haul routes like Boston-New Orleans would not be a safe bet without major improvements in speed.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:26 PM   #29
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Nonsense.
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Old 05-03-2009, 07:05 PM   #30
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

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Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
Nonsense.
Care to explain? Long haul HSR isn't very popular in Europe due to the extreme cheapness of Ryanair and easyJet. I doubt it will be popular in the US as well; the demand just isn't there, so the long-haul US HSR lines are unlikely to be built in the first place.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:48 AM   #31
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Another big difference is that most of the European cities served by high speed rail are much more dense and have much better intracity transit services. There's a good chance that the Brussels to Berlin train rider is able to either walk to a high speed rail station or take a direct transit link there on both ends of their trip, than the Charlotte to Indianapolis traveler. And once you have to add in parking fees and/or rent a car, most metropolitan Americans will find it easier (and cheaper) to make the trip via air.

The typical Boston to NYC Acela rider is originating at a downtown office or a location easily served by the MBTA or MTA, and destined for same. They are not using Acela for trips between Tewksbury and Pasippany.
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Old 05-04-2009, 09:59 AM   #32
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

One day short trip air travel will not be profitable enough to survive. An alternative is needed. Certainly long distance flights will remain but shorter routes in the 500 mile range will not. When that happens the physical layout of our metropolitan areas will slowly change as land values near train stations go up. It will be a 30 - 50 year shift.
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:04 PM   #33
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

^

I agree with the first few points. But the future layout of metropolitan areas and land values near train stations will likely have very little to do with the primary travel mode used for 500 miles trips. Land costs around successful CBD intercity rail stations are already high (Union, South, Penn, Grand Central) absent a comprehensive HSR network. Land costs around the northeast airports the currently dominate the 500-mile trip market (Logan, LaGuardia, Newark, etc.) are likely lower than they would be absent that function being served there.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:17 PM   #34
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

I think they're only lower for certain things. It would be wrong to say that an airport didn't stimulate demand for services which brings up land costs around them. It's true that the value for, say, residential real estate might plummet, or for certain high-income commercial uses, but it's the opposite for virtually anything else.
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Old 05-04-2009, 03:41 PM   #35
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Right, but presumably residential and high-income commercial uses were the ones Benson was thinking of when he spoke of increasing land values around HSR stations (and not freight forwarding, rental car facilities or Hampton Inns with long term parking).

As center cities hopefully continue to become more desirable places to live and work HSR will be more likely to succeed. But the reason is that those higher income residents and uses drawn by the benefits of the center city also happen to be more likely to make use of high speed intercity transport. Not the other way around.
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Old 05-04-2009, 04:02 PM   #36
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Oh, I don't know about that. It took half a century of subsidization of road and air transport to create our current landscape. It wasn't simply that people "came to prefer" suburbia and the infrastructure followed. I don't see why HSR/mass transit/"smart growth" can't work in the same way.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:58 AM   #37
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

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A Bridge to Somewhere
Sometimes, if you build it, they really do come.
By Alex Marshall | June 2009
Alex Marshall
is a Senior Fellow at The Regional Plan Association in New York City. E-mail him at alex@alexmarshall.org.

Most transportation improvements happen mainly because one thing leads to another. A lot of people want to cross a river, you build a bridge to replace the overcrowded ferry. Lots of cars are on a road, you expand the road into a highway. More and more people want to fly somewhere, you build a bigger airport.

And that?s a legitimate way to plan transportation.

But there is another way. Rather than reacting to demand, you anticipate demand. You build a bridge or a road or an airport that leads where people are not traveling very much. This is riskier than simply responding to demand, but the payoff is potentially bigger.

The greatest historical example is the Erie Canal. In the early 1800s, few were trying to get from Albany, New York, to the tiny town of Buffalo, an almost impossible journey of nearly 300 overland miles through dense forest, rivers and rugged terrain. It was only a dream?in this case a governor?s?that if a canal were built, passengers and shippers would want a route to Buffalo, on the Great Lakes, so they could travel along the lakes to the Midwest. Because it was an unproven idea, many derided the Erie Canal before and during its construction.

But not after. Financed with unprecedented levels of debt by the state, the Erie Canal became the greatest public works project of all time, measured by the amount of wealth created. The Erie Canal now connected the Midwest to the East Coast and to the rest of the world. The canal was the reason New York City became the nation?s economic capital. It repaid the public debt many times over.

But you don?t have to go back two centuries to find projects that anticipate demand and make it work. Spain, eyeing the fast trains in France in the early 1990s, opted to build its first high-speed rail line from Madrid to Seville, a beautiful city of Moorish architecture and Flamenco dancers, but not an economic dynamo.

Many thought a better choice would have been to build it between Madrid and the thriving city of Barcelona. Many businessmen already made that journey, and many wanted to do so more quickly and easily.

I rode the new Seville line in 1994, shortly after it opened. I made the 300-mile trip from Madrid to Seville in less than two hours, visiting the Seville World?s Fair and returning to Madrid in time for dinner. Even so, I wondered at the wisdom of making Madrid-Seville the first line in the system.

But over the past 17 years, the line to Seville has jump-started the economy not only of that city but of an entire region of the country, beautiful but struggling Andalucia. And once the rest of Spain saw how well high-speed train travel worked, the network was expanded, to Barcelona and other major cities, as well. There are predictions that by 2020, nine-tenths of the country?s population will be living within about 30 miles of a high-speed train connection.

It?s not only transportation between cities that illustrates this principle. It?s also transportation within a city or metropolitan area. While Spain was building its high-speed rail network, Paris was constructing its latest subway line, The Meteor. This high-tech marvel with conductorless trains and sliding glass doors goes from the busy Left Bank along the Seine over to the Bercy district on the other side, long an underused part of the city filled with older industrial buildings. Planners thought that a good way to drive metropolitan growth into an underutilized area was to build a fast subway line there?along with a nearby billion-dollar National Library. It worked.

In all these examples, planners ignored areas of substantial existing demand, and put the public money into places where there was little congestion. They understood that congestion, whether on a train or a road, is not always the best indicator of where to invest transportation dollars.

This is as true in the United States of 2009 as it was in Albany in 1820. Planners within a metro region in the United States are not necessarily making a mistake if they ignore a congested highway in a ?favored quarter,? and instead spend with a goal of driving population and economic growth into a less-favored area.

Americans seem to recognize that infrastructure investment can jump-start an economy. But as states and localities decide where to put their money, they shouldn?t simply generate studies to show where the traffic is. They should ask how transportation can expand commerce and trade, and make better places to live.

Former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska was derided for his infamous ?bridge to nowhere,? which connected remote Gravina Island to the Alaska mainland. And maybe this was a boondoggle. But the mere fact that nothing much had been happening on Gravina Island doesn?t automatically make the creation of access to it a bad idea.

Sometimes a bridge to nowhere can create a somewhere in the end.
http://www.governing.com/column/bridge-somewhere

A good article on proactive transportation planning. Whenever I read something like this I always say "damn silver line bus." Another reason for investing in a real subway line.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:07 PM   #38
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Heya, Buffalo.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:37 PM   #39
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

interstate highway system a good example.
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Old 06-03-2009, 03:27 PM   #40
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Re: High Speed Rail (Boston to... Texas?)

Quote:

Biden to governors: Be bold on rail
Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor June 3, 2009 01:38 PM

Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and other governors at a White House roundtable today that they should think boldly about high-speed rail.

The $787 billion economic stimulus package includes $8 billion for high-speed passenger service, and President Obama is asking for $5 billion more in his budget. The White House says that detailed guidance for applying for the money will be announced later this month and the first round of grants will be awarded as soon as late summer 2009.

But the Globe reported last month that the Northeast is behind California and the Midwest in the competition for the cash, in part because it has not put as much time and money into organizing a regional effort.

?Everyone knows I?m a big believer in our nation?s rail system ? I?ve devoted a big part of my career doing what I can to support it ? and I?m proud that this administration is about to transform that system fundamentally,? Biden said in a statement. ?Thanks to an $8 billion investment from the Recovery Act, we?re going to start building a high-speed rail system that will loosen the congestion suffocating our highways and skyways, and make travel in this country leaner, meaner and a whole lot cleaner.?

America is ready to embrace a new level of passenger rail service that offers a safe, convenient, and sustainable way to travel from city to city, and region to region,? added LaHood. ?President Obama has handed us an extraordinary opportunity ? and now it is up to all of us to seize the moment. With creative input and contributions from governors across the country, I believe we?ll be able to do just that.?

Other governors in attendance, according to the White House, were Pat Quinn of Illinois, Sonny Perdue of Georgia, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Jay Nixon of Missouri, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.
http://www.boston.com/news/politics/...to_govern.html

Admittedly, I haven't done enough homework on this subject and I'm also a bit partial to the South Coast having grown up there.

However, I think high speed rail should be considered for the Fall River/ New Bedford commuter rail line. I know it's a relatively short route, but it's an about 75 minutes via standard rail and even slightly higher speeds could significantly reduce that commute time which really would make the South Coast a much more viable commuter option.

Right now, stops are planned in New Bedford (3 stops) Fall River (2 stops), Freetown (1 Stop) and Taunton (1 Stop) before the line connects to the existing Stoughton line and continues into South Station. To allow for higher speeds to be reached along the corridor, stops could be cut out. New Bedford could eliminate at LEAST 1 stop and probably 2 (keeping only the downtown stop and possibly the industrial park stop) while Fall River could easily just keep the downtown stop. Freetown doesn't need a stop at all. In fact, many residents of Freetown are hesitant to accept having a stop built in Freetown as they feel it will "adversely affect the small-town feel of the community" (I know, surprising attitude in Massachusetts). Limiting the number of stops to one in Fall River, one in New Bedford (possibly 2) and one in Taunton before connecting to Stoughton (which would need some updating) would allow trains to reach Boston form Fall River and New Bedford in under an hour.

Given that funding is an issue for the South Coast commuter rail project, if the federal funding for higher speed rail is available, then it makes sense. Furthermore, if it's regional cooperation that is desired, the Fall River spur can EASILY be extended into Rhode Island down to Newport. It's absolutely mutually beneficial for Boston and South Eastern MA and RI. If the Southcoast can become a viable commuter option you're looking at significant revitalization in the area as its coastal location, interesting ethnic populations and diversity as well as relatively low housing costs make it VERY attractive to anyone looking to live/work in the Boston area. For those in Boston, having a quick rail service to New Bedford for the Martha's Vineyard ferry and even New Bedford's attractions and having high-speed service to Newport has got to be an ideal prospect.

Finally, part of the South Coast rail project is renovation and upgrades at South Station (including, I believe, additional platforms). Funding that comes from high-speed stimulus could help pay for these upgrades.

I know it's a shot in the dark, but if there's a possibility it can work, I'd like to see it looked into. The Downeaster to Portland could use a high-speed upgrade as well and high speed service to Springfield (Albany?) via Worcester doesn't sound like a bad option either.
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