Review of InnoTrans 2018


October 2018

With this year's edition, the leading international trade fair for transport technology has once again been able to attract more exhibitors and visitors. This also caused a rush of visitors to our stand. We look back with joy and pride on four successful trade fair days with numerous exciting contacts, which we cultivated according to our motto «Handle with care». One of them was the visit of the Swiss ambassador, Dr. Paul R. Seger. In addition, we had the pleasure of celebrating the birthday of our President, Peter Laborenz. Here are some impressions.

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The LVT system with RFID tracking

September 2018

Sonneville and its licensee Vigier Rail are now working with Idencia, a global provider of RFID tracking for concrete products, to give their customers the ability to digitally collect and track product information over the life of the product. Below you will find a related article:

Idencia and Vigier Rail Partner to Offer RFID Tracking



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«Golden Sleeper» in the Ceneri Base Tunnel

June 2018

The Ceneri Base Tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel and the new line near Biasca together form the southern part of the Gotthard axis of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA). Sonneville’s European LVT licensee Vigier Rail supplied the individual LVT supports of the ballastless track for the Ceneri Base Tunnel – as it did for the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

After around nine months of installation, the time had come on 30th May 2018: the «Golden Sleeper» was installed in the Ceneri Base Tunnel. The last part of the slab track with golden LVT supports was built in a festive ceremony in the tunnel. This was not only a great moment for the contractor and AlpTransit Gotthard, but also for Vigier Rail and Sonneville and an important milestone for the project. In total, 98,000 LVT supports are used in the Ceneri Base Tunnel over a length of 15.4 km double track. The opening and commissioning of the tunnel is scheduled for 2020.

LVT is thus the first choice for Switzerland's largest railway tunnels – the Gotthard, Lötschberg and Ceneri Base Tunnel – and Vigier Rail and Sonneville are proud to have contributed to these projects of the century.

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LVT Panel – the innovation for track renewal

January 2018

With the more intensive use and aging of existing railway and metro lines, the renewal of these tracks within minimum service breaks is required.

To extend the life-cycle of the track, the conversion of existing ballasted tracks into slab tracks during the renewal provides a significant advantage for railway operators around the world.

Usually existing tracks face a high traffic flow, and for renewal works only short service breaks during night times are available. To allow slab track construction in concrete design during short closures, it is required to use as many prefabricated elements as possible, in order to minimize work on site and enhance quality.

For this purpose, Sonneville AG has developed a concrete slab track solution combining pre-assembled short concrete panels with the advantages of the LVT slab track system: LVT Panel.

As the first reference in the Swiss Federal Railways network, ten «LVT Panel» were installed at the beginning of December 2017, each with four LVT standard supports, manufactured by Vigier Rail, during the rehabilitation of the «Axentunnel» on the access route to Ceneri and Gotthard Base Tunnels.

The advantages of «LVT Panel» are obvious:

  • Use of the approved LVT system
  • LVT supports integrated in a concrete panel
  • Short concrete panels holding 4 supports for easy transport and installation
  • One basic design for all track geometries
  • Fast installation procedure in short closures
  • Reduced need of in-situ concrete on site
  • Immediate operation with temporarily reduced speed
  • Full vibration attenuation performance of LVT system
  • Functional drainage

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Relationship with RZDstroy enlarged

September 2017

We are pleased to announce the deepening of the cooperation between RZDstroy and Sonneville AG related to the LVT slab track technology. Sonneville and RZDstroy agreed to widen the responsibilities for slab track projects also for the Republic of Armenia, Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan and Republic of Kyrgyzstan. An amendment to the existing agreement had been signed during the «1520 railway exhibition» in Moscow on 30th of August 2017.

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Change in the Sonneville Management

August 2017

Sonneville AG has successfully carried out a number of projects together with its worldwide partners. Since its integration in the Swiss Vigier Group in 2009, Sonneville has grown signifi­cantly. Therefore we are glad to inform you about the latest changes to our organisation, which should lead to a continuously prosperous development in the future.

Mrs Anabel Hengelmann, President of Sonneville AG, has been nominated as Chairwoman of Sonneville’s Board of Directors and consequently handed over the position as President to former Vice President Peter Laborenz. We are very glad to pass on the operative respon­sibility to Peter Laborenz and very sure that with his broad technical experience and his well-established market knowledge to have a great personality to head Sonneville. Anabel Hengelmann will still play an important role at Sonneville and will further assist the team by sharing her long-time railway experience and network.

Additionally, Mr. Alexander Geschka, former Project Manager at Sonneville, took over the position as Vice President.

With this new organization we will strengthen our successful cooperation with our existing partners and clients and continue to establish Sonneville in new aspiring countries. We are looking forward to working together with you on prestigious future slab track projects.

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First delivery for Ceneri Base Tunnel

April 2017

Sonneville’s European LVT licensee Vigier Rail supplied the first 600 LVT Standard supports for the Ceneri Base Tunnel project for a test installation prior to the start of the track installation in May 2017. The Ceneri Base Tunnel is an integral part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA), the new North-South railway corridor in Europe, and another important part to create a flat railway trajectory through the Alps. The 2 x 15 km long tunnel is located in Ticino, a canton in the southern part of Switzerland, and is only about 30 km south of Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest railway tunnel in the world, which started revenue service in 2016 and is also equipped with the LVT slab track system.

The LVT track in the Ceneri Base Tunnel will be installed by the consortium AMC, in which the Italian track work contractor GCF will lay and assemble the LVT track in the two tubes until the end of 2017.

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InnoTrans Berlin, 20 – 23 September 2016

September 2016

Vigier Rail and Sonneville are prepared for this year’s InnoTrans in Berlin. The whole team is looking forward to welcoming you at our booth 224 in hall 26 with our slogan:

the art of creating future

Please find some impressions on the right:

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Opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel

June 2016

The opening of the new Gotthard Base Tunnel was celebrated with a big inauguration ceremony on June 1st 2016. This event created a worldwide recognition of the Swiss Engineering capabilities. Below you can find some international articles about the opening:

Sonneville is proud to be a part of this once in a lifetime project, that not only represents the world’s longest but also deepest railway tunnel. Our European licensee, Vigier Rail AG, manufactured and delivered around 375’000 LVT supports and therefore ensured that the track could be built with very high precision to allow trains to pass at 250 km/h (155 mph) underneath the Gotthard.

Besides European leaders and other high ranked personalities, also our President, Anabel Hengelmann, and our Vice President, Peter Laborenz, were invited to the festivities.

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Signing of Memorandum of Understanding between RZDstroy and Sonneville AG

April 2016

The long standing and excellent relationship between RZDstroy, the Russian licensee of the LVT system, and Sonneville AG was taken to the next level by signing a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).  

The business relationship was so far limited to sales activities and the LVT block production in Russia. Besides this, there already was some cooperation outside of Russia on a project based agreement, but the now signed MoU allows RZDstroy to also promote the LVT system in Italy, Serbia, Kazakhstan and on EEU Customs Union market, countries that yet have no LVT installations, besides Russia in the EEU. This win-win situation will allow RZDstroy to expand their sales area significantly and promote the LVT system in these countries and will at the same time give Sonneville AG the chance to benefit of the excellent business contacts RZDstroy has in those markets.

The document was signed by Mr. Evgeny Dorot, Deputy General Director of RZDstroy, and Mrs. Anabel Hengelmann, President of Sonneville AG, during the Swiss-Russian Joint-Economic-Commission that was held March 15, 2016 in Bern, Switzerland.

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LVT system in the Metro Moscow network

April 2016

Since 2012 Sonneville has a very fruitful partnership with the Russian licensee «RZDstroy» and their local manufacturing partner «Stroyindustria».

Besides two tunnels (tunnel 6 and 7 on the Moscow – Adler line) in the RZD network near Sotchi, more than 100’000 special shaped LVT supports (LVT-M) where produced and delivered to several extension and rehabilitation projects in the Metro Moscow network.

The original purpose of these supports was to replace wooden blocks encased in concrete, the standard ancient design of slab track in the Metro Moscow network. The wooden ties reached their lifetime but the surrounding concrete was still in a good shape. Therefore the special cavity LVT support was chosen to replace the wooden blocks and additionally add some more resilience to the track. The replacement was done in short night breaks in areas where several blocks had to be replaced. After the removal of the wooden blocks the LVT-M were grouted in the remaining cavity.

After the good experience with the installation and performance of the system as a replacement, Metro Moscow decided to use the special supports also in the new construction of tracks. In several extensions around Moscow and also in the construction of the new Line 8A between Delowo Zentr and Park Pebody the special LVT supports were installed.

Additionally to the special LVT supports, in several projects also a total of 9 turnouts and one double crossover were equipped with LVT S&C supports. Sonneville assisted the local design office with the block distribution and due to Sonneville’s long and worldwide experience, the initially foreseen pretension sleepers in the frog area could be avoided and the turnouts could be constructed entirely with LVT supports.

The success of LVT in the Metro Moscow is not yet finished as also in 2016 several projects in the network are foreseen to use special LVT supports, like the extension of Line 2 in Hovrino.

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LVT track successfully tested at 275 km/h

© AlpTransit Gotthard AG

November 2015

During the weekend 7 / 8 November 2015, DB's ICE-S successfully travelled at speeds of 275 km/h on the LVT slab track through the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland. This demonstrated once again the excellent track geometry of the LVT track, which guarantees maximum travelling comfort. Everyone involved in the project as well as the official test supervisors are extremely satisfied with the outcome of the tests. Speeds of up to
250 km/h were reached on short sections of both the southern and northern access routes. At the very least, this successfully concludes the validation proof of the LVT slab track within the tunnel.

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LVT in Israel

September 2015

The new Gilon Tunnel will be equipped with the LVT system. The tunnel is part of the new Akko – Karmiel line in northern Israel and connects the costal railway line with the city of Karmiel.

Sonneville partnered with the precast manufacturer Solel Boneh as licensee of the LVT system in Israel and since beginning of April 2015 they manufacture the 40’000 LVT concrete blocks. Besides the know-how, Sonneville provides also the casting machine as well as the block pads and rubber boots for the LVT supports.

In the beginning of 2015 the casting machine was shipped from its recent installation in Taiwan to Israel and was set-up, maintained and powered-up by Vigier Rail/Sonneville technicians. After that the employees from Solel Boneh were trained in handling the machine and the entire manufacturing process of the LVT supports.

The installation of the supports in the Gilon Tunnel is expected to start in November 2015.

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Moscow Metro Extension

January 2015

In December 2014 the new 2,2 km long Moscow Metro line from Yugo-Zapadnaya to Troparyovo was put into operation. Moscow Metro decided to use trapezoidal LVT supports for this project, as they could already gather experience with this kind of support in other projects. The newest extension also includes two 1/9 turnouts and a 2/9 type scissor crossing, which were installed with standard type LVT S&C supports.

Besides this project a total of over
54’000 trapezoidal LVT supports have already been delivered to various projects within the Moscow Metro network. LVT is not only used in new installation projects, but also as a refurbishment of existing slab tracks. The previously installed slab track system in the Moscow Metro network uses wooden blocks encased in concrete. Standard track maintenance requires the operator to replace the blocks from time to time after they reached their lifetime. For this, Moscow Metro searched a system that can be installed quickly, requires almost no maintenance but allows an easy and quick exchange of each component. LVT was chosen as it offered a special support designed exactly for this purpose and Sonneville AG already had experience with it in other projects. Additionally an effective vibration and noise mitigation, as provided by every LVT support, was brought into the network.

For the refurbishment the wooden blocks (single or multiple blocks) are taken out of the concrete slab during night shifts and are replaced with the special LVT supports. After the alignment has been set, the supports are grouted into the existing cavities from the former wooden blocks. This exchange work can be executed even in short service breaks of only a few hours.

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Gotthard Base Tunnel – "golden sleeper" installed

November 2014

On Thursday October 23, 2014, Vigier Rail AG produced the last of in total 380'000 LVT supports for the Gotthard Base Tunnel. The commonly known "golden sleeper" was indeed golden. On the occasion of the actual golden sleeper installation in the Gotthard Base tunnel, an official ceremony was held on October 31 in Erstfeld. You can review this event on the official Gotthard Base Tunnel homepage:

Sonneville is very proud to be part of this project of the century. For your further interest our brochure about the LVT system for the longest railway tunnel in the world is now ready for download.

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Trade show report InnoTrans 2014

November 2014

From 23 – 26 September 2014 the Innotrans (the leading international trade fair for transport technology) was held for the
10th time in Berlin. With 2'758 exhibitors and 138'000 visitors again a new record was set. Vigier Rail AG and Sonneville AG were present with a combined booth.

As project of the century the Marmaray tunnel in Turkey was introduced. It does not only connect Eminönü with Üsküdar, but also London and Beijing. Thanks to numerous references and the compelling properties Turkish National Railways TCDD relied on the Low Vibration Track (LVT) System in different layouts for this ambitious project.

Also this year we can draw a positive summary of the trade show. We would like to thank everybody for the large interest in our products and are glad about the numerous visits at our booth.

Already now the entire team from Vigier Rail and Sonneville looks forward to the next Innotrans from 20 – 23 September 2016 in Berlin.

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Inauguration of the Durchmesserlinie Zurich (Cross-city Link)

July 2014

With the inauguration of the Durchmesserlinie Zurich (Cross-city Link) on July 12 2014, the Cross City Link Zurich finally becomes reality after a 15 year period of planning and construction. The new tracks are of great importance for the intercity line Geneva-Bern-Zurich-St. Gallen, but at the moment they are solely used by various commuter lines.

As soon as the bridges Kohledreieck and Letzigraben (also planned with LVT) between Altstetten and Zurich main station are open for service, also the intercity trains will use the new Löwenstrasse station and the 5 km long Weinberg tunnel instead of the overground terminus.

Besides the use of LVT standard and LVT HA for more sensitive areas, also all 16 turnouts are equipped with LVT S&C to ensure a constant track modulus. As a world premiere, LVT traffic was installed to give a safe passage of the tracks for track maintenance staff and also passengers in case of an emergency stop of the train in the tunnel.

Sonneville is proud to be part of this monu-mental project through its European licensee Vigier Rail. This project very well reflects the versatility of the various LVT products and the innovative solutions Sonneville engineers can come up with together with the client.

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LVT system for the Durchmesserlinie Zurich (Cross-city Link)

LVT traffic installation - the specially developed formwork covers separate the high shoulders from the cast-in-place concrete layer.
Ballastless track with LVT traffic

July 2013

The installation and equipping of the new Löwenstrasse through station in Zurich with the LVT system and LVT points has been in full swing since January 2013. By the middle of March, 50% of the whole station area had already been built. Then, from around May 2013, the Weinberg Tunnel had been equipped with LVT Standard, as well as LVT HA (high attenuation) which provides the maximum protection against vibrations.

In addition, at certain spots the newly developed LVT traffic will be introduced into the Standard and HA versions. This will facilitate safe track crossing with rescue and maintenance vehicles fitted with pneumatic tyres.

The work on the slab track is scheduled to finish in December 2013. By then, a total of 13.3 km LVT Standard track and 16 points with the LVT system will have been installing.

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Vigier Rail AG and Sonneville AG at Suissetraffic exhibition from 27 to 29 May 2013 - which is part of the UITP World Congress in Geneva

May 2013

Once every two years, the UITP (International Association of Public Transport) holds its World Congress in different countries. After Dubai 2011, this year Switzerland has the honour of being the host country. In order for this significant event to be an appropriate platform, the UITP and Suissetraffic have decided to hold the third one as part of the "60th UITP World Congress and Exhibition" in Geneva on the exhibition grounds of PALEXPO.

The sister companies Vigier Rail AG and Sonneville AG will be represented on site with a joint exhibition stand showing the following systems:

Low vibration track (LVT) – a system conquers the world
Over 1,000 km of the internationally well-known and successful "Low vibration track (LVT)" system have now been installed worldwide. For even more demanding requirements with regard to noise attenuation and vibration mitigation, the LVT system has been expanded with "LVT-HA (high attenuation)". Larger blocks and softer pads result in the low natural frequency of the system, which is in the same range as lightweight spring-mass systems.

LVT traffic - a mobility concept on rails
Therefore, vehicles with pneumatic tyres will now also be able to travel on ballastless track. The combined track, which consists of an additional layer of cast-in-place concrete and newly developed LVT supports, makes it possible for normal rescue and maintenance vehicles to access tunnels.

Where "local public transport" is concerned, Vigier Rail manufactures a variety of sleepers that are suitable for the most varied of operating systems. Minimal expenditure on maintenance over the decades and modern installation devices are advantages worthy of mention here.

We wish all congress participants fascinating presentations and look forward to surprising you on our Stand B210 in Hall 2, with the following slogan:

5 continents – 1 soul / 5 continents – 1 system 

We offer you a musical journey around the world accompanied by culinary specialities. Various tasty snacks and special guests await you there:

Pianist and singer, Nico Brina & Band
One of the most in-demand pianist in Europe with an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest "Speed boogie pianist".

Monday, 27 May 2013           Presentations at 10.30/13.00/15.30/17.30
Tuesday, 28 May 2013          Presentations at 10.30/13.00
Wednesday, 29 May 2013     Presentations at 10.30/13.00/15.30/17.30

See you soon!

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Installation of LVT-system as part of the Line 7 Extension project, New York, USA

Assembled track
Concreted track incl. center trough

March 2013

The existing Line 7 (Flushing Line) in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Network in New York is extended westwards by 2.1 km (7’000 feet). Once opened, it will connect the prospering westside area around the Javits Convention Center (Hell’s Kitchen) to the extensive MTA network in Manhattan.

The tunnels and stations have been built with tunnel-boring machines and are now equipped with the LVT slab track system, starting in November 2013 until mid 2013. Therefore 14’000 LVT supports are being installed and also a double crossover is equipped with LVT S&C supports.

All blocks are produced by our licensee Construction Polymers through their partner KSA in Portsmouth, Ohio, and are also assembled there. After the acceptance through a certified engineering company, the supports are delivered on trucks directly to the construction site.

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Project success in Turkey

December 2012

The Low Vibration Track system (LVT) for slab tracks, which has many references worldwide, will be used in another ambitious project, the tunnel crossing Bosporus called Marmaray. This about 12km-long line with double-track consists out of tubes under the European and Asian side of the city connected by an immerse tube beneath the Bosporus.

Beside the installation of LVT Standard system, sections where the LVT High Attenuation system and special LVT supports for height adjustment are required. With these emphasis is being put on protecting the environment and the city’s historical buildings as well as the geological conditions.

The opening of the tunnel is planned for 2013. We are very proud to be part of this prestigious project, in which for the first time, two continents are connected with the LVT system.

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Record number of visitors to InnoTrans


September 2012

The sister companies, Vigier Rail AG and Sonneville AG, again had a presence at the world's largest trade fair for the rail industry in Berlin with a joint exhibition stand. The ninth InnoTrans attracted visitors from 140 countries.

An absolute must for specialists from the world of rail transport technology, InnoTrans provided an outstanding platform, which we took advantage of to also present our "LVT Traffic" world premiere. We have redefined trafficability on ballastless track.

The globally famous Low Vibration Track (LVT) stirred up a great deal of interest with exhibition visitors. To date, more than 1,000 km of track has been built in the world using LVT technology.

In the case of the flat sleepers for normal and metre-gauge track that we also exhibited, we were delighted to receive official approval from the Swiss Federal Office of Transport for the B06 FS just a few weeks before.

Needless to say, the "Gotthard base tunnel" project of the century was also one of our themes. We showed the longest railway tunnel in the world using a detailed film about the installation of the track.

The two roller figure skaters who dazzled our visitors with acrobatics and culinary delights proved to be an eye-catcher. Our conclusion on this year's trade fair - lots of interesting discussions and delight at the large numbers of visitors. Many thanks indeed for visiting us and for the interest you showed.

We hope you will honour us again with your presence at InnoTrans in Berlin in two years' time from 23 to 26 September 2014.

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LVT traffic - Trafficability on ballastless track redefined

July 2012

A mobility concept on rails

A new type of low vibration track (LVT) system now exists: with LVT traffic, vehicles with pneumatic tyres can also run on ballastless track.

Modern rescue concepts are frequently based on vehicles running on pneumatic tyres going into tunnels. LVT traffic makes this possible: the combined track is realized by an additional cast-in-place concrete layer and newly developed LVT supports. These have high shoulders and can be separated from the cast-in-place concrete layer with special developed formwork covers. This means that LVT traffic displays the same exceptional behaviour in terms of track deflection and vibration mitigation as all previous LVT solutions.

The advantages:

  • With excellent vibration attenuation and dual level elasticity, LVT traffic has the typical properties of an LVT system.

  • All components can be easily replaced.

  • The solution does not depend on track geometry.

  • The track can be assembled easily and efficiently without precast elements.

  • The construction process is in line with conventional ballastless track construction methods.

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Article in the "Swiss Knowhow" magazine

May 2012

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Sonneville shows his presence at important railway-exhibitions worldwide

September 2011


September 19 - 21, 2011 the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) hostet the annual conference & exposition in Minneapolis (MN), the major North American railway industry event.

The stand was positioned well and was equipped with a track with LVT-blocks. In addition to the fair, the AREMA Committee was on site.

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Expo 1520

The III International Rail Salon EXPO 1520 was held in the town of Scherbinka outside Moscow from 07 - 10 September, 2011 on the premises of the Experimental Ring, branch of the Railway Research Institute.
EXPO 1520 is an international salon showcasing the latest achievements in rail equipment, technology, infrastructure, services and logistics.

Many visitors could learn about the slab track system Low Vibration Track (LVT). Three of the four longest tunnels in the world will soon be equipped with the LVT system.

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Hand over the reigns of power

March 2011

After a long sucessful period Bernard Sonneville sold his company Sonneville International Corporation to the Swiss Vigier Group in 2009. Over 50 years of cooperation this was a logical next step. Since then he has been assisting the new management in the position of a strategic advisor. End of March 2011 also this cooperation comes to an end. We thank Bernard Sonneville for his support and wish him all the best for the next stage in his life.

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