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The Shield





Reinforcing relationships with lineside neighbours

IT WASN’T only bricks and mortar that worked well together at this rail project in Kent. The team cemented a good relationship with lineside neighbours as they removed a life-expired bridge across the river Stour in the picturesque village of Chartham, and replaced it with a brand new structure. While relations with local residents ran smoothly, bad weather, flood water and restricted access provided a number of major challenges for the team to overcome. See pages 4 and 5 for the full story.

Eye in the sky

Green signals

Rail lives






First Person Throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we rose to the challenges placed on us as an industry – keeping the railways running, adjusting our working methods and risk controls to reduce the spread, and raising the levels of hygiene in our welfare facilities. Now, as we begin to come out of the lockdown controls it is vitally important that we don’t let our standards drop, and most importantly that we continue to look out for ourselves and each other – not only regarding coronavirus, but also around basic safety controls. I’m a firm believer in those basics:

taking individual accountability for our own fitness to work, basic housekeeping and site tidiness, giving and receiving briefings that are task specific, stopping work if anything changes and reporting hazards and good practice through observation apps or other methods. My experience has been that where our site teams have cultures that focus on these basics, everything else tends to fall into place. Some of that culture features in this issue of The Shield – leading to more sustainable projects and good relations with lineside neighbours, as well as safety.

There’s always room for improvement though, as a recent number of incidents involving people and plant show. That’s among the priorities for the Southern Shield Safety Leadership Team. Over the next month or so you should see members of the team at sites around the region – if you do, please come and grab us and tell us what we need to do to improve safety. Chris Ottley, operations director, Balfour Beatty



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THE ROLLOUT of Negative ShortCircuiting Device (NSCD) training and usage is set to continue across the Southern region, following a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NSCDs enable a safer and more efficient method of applying short circuit protection. They are installed at traction supply points such as substations, but they are operated at a local control panel, situated in a position of safety. This means, in most cases, an isolation can be set up without colleagues having to go on or near the line. Training material has been updated and Network Rail plans to retrain the supply chain ready for the NSCD golive that starts this Autumn. Train

the Trainer sessions will be held from August and selected individuals will be invited to these. Anyone who has not completed the NSCD training course, or hasn’t operated NSCDs for over a year, should speak to their sentinel manager and training partners. The following roles need the new NSCD Operator competency: • Strapmen – Level B • Engineering Supervisors (ES) • Persons in Charge of Possessions (PICOP) • SWL2. For information on how to book these courses and what refresher training is required, contact

NEW POINTS OF ACTION A NEW standard has been introduced, aimed at reducing “points run through” incidents. A points run through is a movement which runs through a trailing set of points which are not set in the correct position for the movement. In the Southern region alone there were 20 point run through instances between February 2020 and February 2021. Antony Hayward, principal design engineer, Network Rail, said:“Incorrectly set points result in damage to the infrastructure, delays to handing back the worksite – delaying our customers and incurring unnecessary cost. Recently in Network Rail, in a nine-week period four sets of points were run through causing 3,200 minutes of train

delays and £256,000 in costs.” The new standard, NR/L3/OPS/255, came into force on 5 June 2021. The main requirement is placing of points stop equipment, such as red lights, at any points that are required to be moved within a worksite for on-track plant and machine movements. The lamps are not allowed to be moved until it has been confirmed by the Person in Charge that the points are set correctly for that movement. As well as being easy to implement, with no additional staffing requirements, it creates an extra check to prevent miscommunication between the machine controller and the machine operator. It also creates a record of movements over all points.

YARD WORK PAYS OFF for residents in flats next door. Over the years, the yard next to Guildford substation had accumulated a lot of waste materials and was in bit of a mess. A number of controlled track switches had also been improperly stored.

An opportunity to transform the area came with the relocation of Wessex mobile operations managers (MOMs) to the site in June this year. A new building to house the MOMs was erected and the site was cleared of rubbish. Useable materials were

properly secured, including the controlled track switches, which were stored in a way that means they can be maintained prior to being installed and commissioned. As well as being tidier, reusing the switches is expected to save money.



A TIDY site is a safer site – and it’s also good for neighbourly relations. That’s the case at a Network Rail yard in Guildford, Surrey, where efforts to remove rubbish and unused materials and add lighting have made the site more accessible and less of an eyesore

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EYE IN THE SKY How using drones on live sites can improve frontline safety IS IT a bird? Is it a plane? No, that object you may see hovering above a railway site, might well be a drone. As well as becoming a valuable tool for surveying and publicity shots, drones are increasingly being looked at as a way of making the railway safer. Drones form part of Network Rail’s Track Worker Safety programme, with the aim of reducing the time people have to spend on track, working in dangerous spaces or at height. Under the control of trained and licensed pilots, like Wessex construction manager Martin Ford, they are currently being used for a wide variety of tasks, from capturing thermal imaging and inspecting assets to quickly identifying access points. Martin qualified in 2020 having completed a mandatory training programme. With strict rules governing their use, flying a drone requires a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority. “I saw a notice asking if anyone wanted to train as a pilot and I thought it looked very interesting,” he says. “I could see how it could have all kinds of safety benefits as well as cost savings, so I put together a business case for it and completed a five-day course. You have to learn air laws and regulations as well as the techniques. You can’t just send a drone up, there are risk assessments and flight plans to be approved by Network Rail before you can begin and all sorts of rules to comply with.” Martin has worked on the railway since starting with British Rail on a government Youth Training Scheme in his teens. His 30 plus years’ experience help him know how to capture the information workers need and also gives him an understanding of where drones could make a real difference to safety. “Seeing things from the air in high definition gives you a whole new perspective on the site layout and size of a job, and the images can also be used in real time with colleagues on the ground analysing the pictures or thermal images. “For example, if we had an embankment slip, we could

fly the drone overhead to get an instant idea of the extent of the slip and where access and egress is, without having to send a person out there and put them at risk in an unknown situation. “Or if we are working on a station canopy, a drone flight could capture detailed images without the need for a possession, scaffold, harnesses and people climbing up on the canopy. Once we look at the footage, we can plan to have people go up to look at any areas where a ‘touch and feel’ inspection is needed.” Many of Martin’s missions to date have involved capturing high quality video images from live sites to show progress to stakeholders or the public via the media. Footage he captured during work at the Huntley and Palmer bridge in Reading (see The Shield, May 2021) even ended up on the local news. “Using technology like this is definitely the right way to go,” he adds. “As well as the quality it offers, it’s cost effective but most importantly there are so many potential safety benefits.” If you think the use drones would be useful in your role or to find out how to become a drone pilot contact:

BURNING ISSUE The sun’s no fun if you’re not properly protected WORKING outdoors for long periods – even when it’s cloudy – can put you at risk of damaging your skin, or worse. Repeated exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays increases the risk of skin cancer. Getting sunburn once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma. That’s why it’s vital to be aware of the power of the sun and follow these simple steps to make sure you are protected while working: • Plan your day – carry out more strenuous works during coolest parts of the day • Walk and work in the shade as much as possible • Take frequent short breaks, in a shaded cool area • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water • Always use sunscreen on all areas of your skin and reapply regularly throughout the

day. Look for a sun protection factor of at least SPF15 – ideally SPF30. • Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments • Report any medications that can affect you working in hot environments. SKIN DEEP It is important to check your skin at least once a month for signs of skin cancer if you have had exposure to sunlight. Signs can include: • Growth of moles • Moles that are growing, bleeding or changing in appearance • Scabby spots and sores that do not clear • Skin discolouration. If the skin does not improve in four weeks you must seek medical advice.

MY DIABETES JOURNEY DIABETES affects almost five million people in the UK. It’s a serious condition but its symptoms can be managed. Construction manager Steve Richards knows this more than most having been diagnosed last year. Steve hopes sharing his story will highlight how easily diabetes can develop, the serious affect it can have on our health and how to manage it. “My first indication that something was wrong was in August 2020,” he recalls. “I lost around eight kilograms in weight without diet or exercise, which I remember thinking was great at the time but I was also urinating up to 20 times a day and my vision had become blurred. I actually felt physically well but a Google search revealed I had five out of the six symptoms of diabetes.” A visit to the doctor showed Steve’s blood glucose level was over five times higher than it should’ve been. He was diagnosed with type 2

diabetes and prescribed tablets. “The thought of taking these twice a day for the rest of my life drove me to research ways I could manage the condition,” he says.“I cut out all sugar and processed food from my diet, ate more vegetables and fruit and started to exercise. I found that my blood sugar returned to normal after a couple of weeks and in February 2021, my six-month blood test showed all my levels were normal.” With his doctor’s permission, Steve reduced and then eventually stopped his medication. “My glucose levels have now returned to normal but I still have to watch my sugar intake and I try to make sure I have at least six to eight pieces of fruit or vegetables a day,” he adds. “My message is that diabetes is not insurmountable; it’s manageable, if you educate yourself and eat a well-balanced diet.”

ACCORDING TO DIABETES UK: • More than 4.9 million people in the UK have diabetes • 13.6 million people are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the UK • 850,000 people are currently living with type 2 diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed • Research has consistently shown that for some people, combined lifestyle interventions – including diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss - can be effective in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50 per cent. Find out more at






STOUR Workers renewing a rail crossing over the river Stour have also been building bridges with local residents

CHARTHAM in Kent may be a very pretty place to work, but replacing a 100-year-old railway bridge across a river in the historic village proved full of challenges. Torrential rain and sweltering heat, access via several landowners’ property, setting up heavy plant on a flood plain and working on a floating pontoon were just some of them. “The only access for large vehicles was over a farmer’s level crossing,” says Brian Moore, site agent for BAM Nuttall. “That meant we had to contact the signaller to arrange a line block every time plant or materials came and went from site. “The field next to the bridge where plant including a 750-tonne crane was situated, is what’s called a functional flood plain. That means it takes in water from the river in severe weather to prevent the village from flooding. When we started on site in January 2021, the weather was awful and the ground completely waterlogged. To take the weight of the plant, we had to first put in around 5,000 tonnes of stone to ensure it was level and then a new access road.” Another challenge was that the new track is fixed to the bridge deck rather than being ballasted, in order to comply with Environment Agency regulations. This meant there would be tight clearances during

Lesley Upton

installation, so the new bridge deck was assembled beside the river before it was eventually put into place during the second May bank holiday weekend. Once in place, the team worked on floating pontoons to access piers under the deck, wearing life jackets until rails and edge protection were put in place. CLOSE CONSULTATION With neighbouring properties just metres away from the bridge, it was also important to keep residents informed before, during and after the work. “There were concerns that the work would make properties prone to flooding,” says Brian. “There were six months of consultation with the Environment Agency and local council beforehand and regular contact with residents both face-to-face and on Zoom throughout. “We also made sure large trucks were directed away from the centre of the village and kept residents informed at every step. Because of this we built up quite a rapport. The residents even gave us a lot of information about the river and the nearby land which came in very useful when we were setting up.” With the main work complete, the flood field now has to be restored. In doing so, the team have offered the removed stone to a local farmer to use on his land.

Everybody needs good neighbours Former crossing keeper Lesley Upton has lived at Riverside Gatehouse cottage in Chartham for almost 50 years. As a former railway employee she understands the importance of keeping the railway in good condition – as a long-standing neighbour, she appreciated the way the project team worked with the community. “I’m right on the river so I could look out of my front window and see it all happening,” she says. “There was a bit of noise and dust, which you expect, but we knew it wouldn’t be for ever. They kept the noise down at night-time, told us exactly what they were doing and when, and they’ve always given us information when we’ve asked for it. They’ve been kind and considerate all the way through.” Realising the significance of the project for future villagers, Lesley and her neighbours are creating a photo book about the bridge replacement for the local historical society.

Always use a safety harness when working


BUILDING BRIDGES IN CHARTHAM Mick Vinnicombe, Ganger supervisor “I’ve been involved wherever I’m needed! One of the biggest challenges was getting the stone into the flood field, especially as the weather was terrible at the time and there was a lot of standing water. Another important task was maintaining an exclusion zone around the crane when that arrived and making sure it had all the correct height and slew restrictors in place. I’m a Safe Work Leader as well, so it’s been important to keep a close eye on everything that’s going on, especially with the amount of movement of plant and people on site.”

Jamie Malcolm, Section engineer “My role is about managing the day-to-day – making sure we have the right materials, the right quality and safety standards, and liaising with relevant authorities. A lot of planning is involved and it’s my role to make sure we’ve covered everything properly. “One of the most important things on a job like this is creating and managing controlled zones. These ensure we keep good segregation between people and plant during certain tasks at certain times. Ensuring these are being adhered to helps make sure everyone gets home safe.”

Janice Muldoon, COVID-19 cleaner

It’s all about RESPECT – seven steps to being a good neighbour





EVVING – keep engine noise to a minimum. No engines idling or unnecessary revving, especially at night. Close doors quietly. MPATHY – ensure our neighbours know how seriously we take our role. If you receive a complaint, handle it with understanding and courtesy.


HOUTING – loud conversations or shouting on site, especially at night is disturbing for neighbours, please keep to a minimum.

ARKING – obstructing private driveways, or parking on grass verges is not permitted –please think before you park. ATING – eating and smoking should always be done off site and during agreed breaks – not in public.


LEAN UP – clean up after yourself, and leave no litter on site, or in car parks.


OILETS – only use provided toilets or agreed welfare facilities – using neighbours’ trees, fences or hedges is not acceptable.

at height, unless other protection is in place

“With all the pandemic restrictions, my job is more than just keeping things clean and tidy. I wipe down all areas that get heavily used – like surfaces, door handles, window frames and catches – as well as all the regular cleaning for welfare areas. When the weather is bad, keeping the floors dry and clear of mud is a challenge but very important to prevent anyone slipping. “There are a lot of people on site but the teams here have been very good at keeping things tidy. I’ll certainly speak up if I see someone not washing their hands or leaving a mess!”

Darren Jackson, Chargehand joiner “I’ve been involved at every stage of the project, from carrying out a lot of the formwork to setting out temporary works with engineers and helping with replacement of the bridge deck. The main risks for me are working at height, working around machinery also heavy lifting – all are quite challenging with lots of people in a small space and require good planning and communication. Having a regular team helps as we all know each other’s capabilities. It’s an interesting job to work on – plus I’ve really enjoyed the good relationship we have with the locals.”





GREEN SIGNALS These environmental initiatives across Southern Shield sites show that safety, performance and sustainability go hand in hand

POWERED BY VEG BAM has committed to running all of its UK construction machinery using recycled cooking oil. Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) is an advanced renewable fuel made from pre-existing bio-waste products such as used cooking oil, plants and organic matter. While it currently costs more than red diesel, it reduces net CO2 emissions by as much as 90 per cent. Sarah Jolliffe, carbon reduction lead, BAM Nuttall, said: “HVO differs from gas oil, diesel and petrol as it isn’t derived from crude oil, the main cause of greenhouse gases. It has been available for several years but it is only in the last 12 to 18 months that HVO has been approved by plant and engine

manufacturers for use in their equipment.” In collaboration with Network Rail, a trial of HVO fuel at Shoreham-bySea in Sussex, helped reduce the amount of carbon produced at the site by 37 per cent. Lessons learnt from Shoreham, where two station canopies are being replaced, are helping teams understand where HVO fuel might be used across other projects. HVO fuel supports BAM’s broader sustainability strategy. Other measures include the phasing out of diesel generators and increasing use of alternative solutions such as photovoltaic cells (solar panels) to generate power at sites.

AN IDEA THAT’S TAKEN OFF ENCOURAGING schoolchildren to flex their green fingers is a great way to build relationships with neighbouring communities – and to promote an interest in nature and the environment. The team delivering the Gatwick Airport station revamp are doing just that – with an extra ‘green’ twist – they’ve provided planters made from recycled building material. The idea came about following a carbon themed Safety Impact Day held by Costain.

“There are always things you can do to be more sustainable, so we started thinking how we could use material that would otherwise go to landfill,” said Willie Gleeson, site superintendent. “So, as well as using leftover concrete to make plant pots, the moulds used to form them are made from recycled metal. We’ve made about 50 so far. It means less waste and also helps local schoolchildren learn about nature and the environment.”

The planter scheme is just one of many sustainability ideas at Gatwick. Another involves using captured rainwater to wash down the site each day. Used timber is also being used to make play apparatus for local schools and nurseries. Willie added: “They are small steps but they all help make a difference.” The station upgrade at Gatwick includes more accessible platforms and a new concourse as well as offices for rail staff.

WILLING AND CABLE RUBBER cable housing, recovered as part of the Hither Green resignalling project in South London, is being turned into surfacing material for a children’s playground. Rather than return the cable for reuse or disposal, Network Rail has agreed that contractor Seva can collect the cable and recycle the rubber before donating the ‘new’ material to the

nearby Grinling Gibbons school. The school is using the material as part of cushioned surfacing in its play area, which is currently undergoing a revamp. “We are really pleased with the outcome so far. This is something we are extremely proud to be part of and that the school pupils will benefit from for years to come,” said Gregg Smith, managing director, Seva Rail Services.

MORE THAN LIP SERVICE SUSTAINABILITY is at the heart of a footbridge and lift installation project at Liphook station in Hampshire. As well as using a solar-powered generator to power the site accommodation, the project team also worked with ecologists to relocate vulnerable wildlife. Particular care was taken to find a new home for slow worms on nearby land.

The project, undertaken by Osborne, is also making use of earth excavated from a railway cutting, rather than bringing in new materials. Liphook’s new enclosed bridge and lifts will provide step-free access between platforms for disabled passengers, people with pushchairs and cyclists. Work at the station is due to complete in November 2021.

Never enter the agreed exclusion zone,


FANTASTIC PLASTIC THE South Rail Systems Alliance team (Colas Rail, Network Rail and AECOM) have installed recyclable polymer composite sleepers as part of a trial at Sherrington Viaduct in Wiltshire. They are the first recycled plastic railway sleepers laid on UK railway tracks. Made from plastic waste, the sleepers provide a sustainable and efficient alternative to timber sleepers and comply with industry

specifications set out by Network Rail, Transport for London and Docklands Light Rail. Their life-expectancy is more than double that of the timber equivalent as they do not rot and are unaffected by water, oil and chemicals. Readings taken on site showed the polymer composite sleepers used much less carbon than existing hardwood and concrete sleepers.

POUR FOR LESS BRITAIN’S largest ever single pour of an innovative new cement-free concrete took place at Chatham Station, Kent. The 300 cubic-metre continuous pour, which supports the foundation for a new step-free access, was carried out by BAM Nuttall and is the first use on the UK railway of the product Cemfree. Using Cemfree rather than traditional concrete on this project, saved approximately 62 tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere – the equivalent of 230,000 miles in an average-sized diesel car. Sarah Borien, head of Environment and Sustainability at Network Rail, said: “This is a great example of how we are working with our supply chain to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to our common sustainability goals.”

GROWING INTEREST SCHOOLCHILDREN in Kent have been enjoying a community garden which was restored by workers from the nearby footbridge refurbishment scheme at Snodland. With lockdown rules easing, pupils at Five Acre Wood Special School, who have complex learning difficulties, were able to attend the garden

in person, having been tasked with selecting herbs and shrubs to plant there. They were joined on the day by teams from Network Rail, BAM Nuttall and Sustrans Community Rail Partnership as well as a horticulturalist. The garden encourages the children to think about where their

food comes from, as well as highlighting the importance of sustainability. Juliette Williams, team manager, Five Acre Wood, said: “A huge thank you to everyone who put this special day together. Our pupils really enjoyed the whole experience and learnt lots from the day.”

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unless directed to by the person in charge

Never enter the agreed exclusion zone, unless direct ed to by the person in charge

It’s a no-go zone until the thumb is shown


FAILING to follow the rules around exclusion zones accounted for almost half of all the people and plant incidents with potential for injury between April and June this year. Recent figures from the Southern Shield Risk Barometer show 88 reported incidents during these periods that could have resulted in someone being seriously hurt. Nearly 50 per cent involved someone entering an exclusion zone without the necessary permission or agreement while the plant was in operation. One event saw an individual go under a train to cut the end of a sleeper just as the train was about to move, and another saw a crane controller stand between the trailer and RRV (road rail vehicle) during on-tracking operations, risking being crushed. To highlight the importance of Network Rail’s Lifesaving Rule around exclusion zones, Southern Shield has created a poster which will soon be on display at sites across the region. It reminds workers to wait for the appropriate thumbs-up signal before entering. As well as following the rules and ensuring proper briefings and signage, technological solutions, such as plant proximity warning systems can help reduce the risks connected with exclusion zones. MyZone, a vibrating device worn on the rear of a hard hat that alerts workers to danger from a hazard, is being used by the Southern Rail Systems Alliance. The Site Zone system, being used by Suttles, provides a vibrating alert to a site worker when entering the exclusion zone, as well as an audible and visual warning to the machine operator.





SAFETY BY THE BOOK She wasn’t born when it happened but Charlotte Dartnell has the Clapham Junction Rail crash in the back of her mind when it comes to doing her job safely THE 1988 Clapham Junction Rail crash, the result of a signalling failure caused by a wiring fault, was a turning point for signalling safety. Among the improvements brought in as result was the Signalling Works Testing Handbook (SWTH) used across the railway today. “This handbook provides all the procedures we need to make sure we test everything correctly and safely,” explains signalling project engineer Charlotte Dartnell. Charlotte, who works for Colas Rail, is currently planning the renewal of two crossovers and two turn outs at Southend. Enabling works start in August and the first of three core signalling works testing (SWT) weekends are due in the middle of October. MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES Charlotte explains: “I get to work with designers, particularly for Switches and Crossing (S&C) track renewals and refurbs, I plan resources in terms of staff, plant, materials, I do the paperwork around access,

testing limits, competencies and I also oversee fatigue management. I love the fact that my role is different every day and that I get to be out on site as well as in an office. I meet so many characters and it’s like we’re just one big family. It’s one of the reasons I joined the railway.” Another area that has improved since the 80s is welfare facilities. Female toilets for example would have been almost unheard of on sites back then but as Charlotte notes, availability of facilities for women is no longer an issue on well run sites like Southend. That’s not to say, work doesn’t have its share of challenges. “The works will take place over eight weekends with three of them core SWT which requires access for 52 hours each time. The rest are p-way stages but there are still signalling elements involved so we need to assist in that,” continues Charlotte. The team has also had to request midweek night access, as it is Red Zone prohibited, during which a team carried out de-vegetation

work in the cess so temporary magnetic fencing could be installed to keep workers away from the track when the line is open. “For us it’s all about working safely so site time, travel, fatigue, working at height and working alongside the track are all factored in,” says Charlotte. “Our SPWEE (safety precautions when working with electrical equipment) training is vital, as is following the Lifesaving Rule of test before touch. One of our biggest risks is over running. We have to come in and take all the equipment out before p-way work can begin and then we have to test everything again after they’ve finished.” STILL LEARNING “We try and mitigate this by having more people do the work, but safety has to come first. If p-way finishes late then our testing times become shorter but it’s vital we complete all our checks properly – we’d rather over run than cut corners.” Charlotte joined Colas Rail’s graduate scheme in 2017 after completing a degree

in Mechanical Engineering at university. She now works with a contracts responsible engineer, two supervisors and a graduate on the Southend project. “I took the graduate under my wing, teaching him everything I know and everything everyone else knows,” she says. “It makes me realise that I know what I’m doing and when he asks something I don’t know I’m not afraid to ask someone more experienced which means I’m still learning too.” Charlotte’s ambitions don’t stop at Southend. She’s currently doing a Masters in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration at Birmingham, funded through Colas Rail’s apprenticeship programme. In October she’ll take the International Rail Signalling Engineers exam. “My aim is to get chartered, which gives me the option to move abroad.” She adds: “When I left university I knew I wanted to work in engineering. It was only when I interviewed at Colas Rail that I realised the railway was where I wanted to be.”

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The Shield August 2021  

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