Regional Rail (RUR) & North-South Rail Link (NSRL)

tangent

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How so?

"Down the road" was always going to include BOTH a 20 year fleet-replacement cycle AND a yards-and-shops upgrade AND a level-boarding platforms/clearances project

We can't get to level boarding and single-level EMUs all that quickly, and we can't string wire all that quickly.

Moving "down the road" is going to require a phased implementation. F-Line and FMCB each have their engineering-or-political reasons why they choose the phases they do, but everybody agrees (don't we?) that it is all going to happen about 1-line-at-a-time.

Electrification starts with the north Providence yard and EMU rolling stock for the Providence Line, and immediately frees up a whole bunch of Krotems.

Hopefully the pace will represent enough new capacity that the Krotems can be redeployed into (Northside) lines and yards that are ready for more-frequent but not-quite-EMU-endgame frequency.
Just from what I have read so far there is no realistic plan for actually doing this in the next decade. Picking a less expensive option that would have been more doable in the nearer term like DMU service for a few stops would have actually put pressure on the state to pull together the money to do this in the next 5 to 10 years. Choosing the 15 to 20 year option kicks the can down the road. Good to have a longer term vision, but not worth much.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Just from what I have read so far there is no realistic plan for actually doing this in the next decade. Picking a less expensive option that would have been more doable in the nearer term like DMU service for a few stops would have actually put pressure on the state to pull together the money to do this in the next 5 to 10 years. Choosing the 15 to 20 year option kicks the can down the road. Good to have a longer term vision, but not worth much.
How are DMU's doable in the nearer-term? You can't buy FRA-compliants today or for at least the next 5-7 years because of terrible business decisions by some of last decade's most ballhyooed manufacturers colliding head-on with "Buy America" sucking the life out of small-unit orders. You literally can get EMU's on the property fresh from the factory decked in Purple Line livery in sooner time than that by purchasing Bombardier MLV coaches and cab cars with the upcoming 200-unit coach RFP, then making a deal with NJ Transit for a couple dozen of their 'slush' MLV power car options.

If you're going to non-specifically criticize them for kicking the can, try picking an example that isn't a strawman's delight at can-kickery as the counterexample. Frankly, if you're concerned about service starts while they get the hardware side of the upgrades settled then the question to ask is "How can we use the soon-to-be-surplus Pullman single-levels, Bombardier cab cars, and a bumper crop of Amtrak leaser locomotives about to become available to service ASAP while the electrification backfills on a timetable TBD?" The last thing we need is a some talking points' repeat of the Patrick Administration's "The vehicle IS the service" DMU purchase bullcrap imposing artificially long timetables on seeding more frequent corridor service because the pols decreed they must blow a wad on the sexy toy before making any promises to run frequent. When in fact there's nothing the current equipment is physically incapable of running if repurposed for fast turns, other than you want to keep that bridge era of diesel push-pulls covering for EMU's-in-wait to be as short as possible because the ops costs chew will start to get unfavorable a few years on. But spare us this "no realistic options" tripe. A whole freaking lot has yet to be prioritized for this rollout, including what to do with the coming equipment surplus to front-load more frequencies sooner.
 

Arlington

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If we went for single level EMUs, could we get Kawasaki M8 or M9s fitted with pantographs and 60hz AC?
 

F-Line to Dudley

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If we went for single level EMUs, could we get Kawasaki M8 or M9s fitted with pantographs and 60hz AC?
No. Those are overweight, overcustomized unicorns designed for New York only. The M9's shouldn't be anywhere near as insanely complicated as they're proving to be, but LIRR's and Kawasaki's mismanagement of them is a case study in mission creep.

There is no "off-shelf" single-level EMU make since the Silverliner V's are a dead-end Brokem lineage that SEPTA is bypassing in favor of parasitic NJT MLV options. And Montreal's MR-90's are pushing 25 years old and would need hefty generational system overhauls to find their place with 2020's makes. Unfortunately that only leaves 2 options: MLV's, 2 x 2 seat bi-level but based on a proven coach model and debugged on NJT's dime, or taking chances with a fresh Euro adaptation in less pants-on-head stupid fashion than Caltrain is doing with its FrankenStadlers.


TransitMatters may yell otherwise, but I don't think single-level vs. bi-level is a nearly big enough hill to die on. If we can really outfit a fleet of MLV's without having to be test guinea pigs, that's a once-in-a-lifetime steal that's hard to pass up. Implementing dynamic PoP and funding level boarding like we mean it ultimately make a much bigger difference to dwell times, and the switch to 2 x 2 seating from 3 x 2 is big unto itself. Bombardier has an overarching strategy after it's perfected this MLV self-propelled to do up the 8-inch boarding BLV coach in the same power car setup, because Toronto is overwhelmingly likely to adopt that. After they get the BLV variant into production they'll turn their attention to filling the single-level gap in the product catalogue. Meaning we probably won't have to wait forever to get our EMU's differentiated by intra-128 flats and outside-128 bi's. The second big supplemental order should be ready to start that differentiation process. So it depends on how flexible they want to be up-front buying the most readily available vehicles for service starts vs. 'stanning for some sort of unassailable perfection that may not matter much for the first 15 years where this buildout is in a process of rapid evolution.
 

Arlington

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As a 125mph rated EMU, the MLV seems good enough to me for launch on PVD-BOS* and we can worry later about dwell times.

Maryland's MLV (for use in the NEC) is the slightly-less-tall car in the middle of this test consist:


* IIRC, RI didn't string catenary PVD-Wickford
 
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HenryAlan

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I don't doubt this at all, and I'm sure that's the pinch point. However, I don't like when the current report states that Old Colony service is 30 minutes peak and 60 minutes off-peak and no changes would be made. To me, that's just dead wrong. We don't have 60 minute off-peak service by a LONG shot.
I don't think that's what they are saying. Here's the quote again:

*Note: Approximate 30 minute peak period and 60 minute off-peak period service applies to all stations, with the exception of Mishawum, Plimptonville, Wickford Jctn,
TF Green and Old Colony/SCR Stations, which are consistent with today’s service schedules.
My interpretation of this is that everywhere would get 30/60 with the exception of the stations and lines listed after the words "with the exception." Those will remain as currently scheduled, which is to say not 30/60, but whatever they currently have for service levels.
 

jklo

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Needham GL with Type 10s should make it to Park in the same time from Needham Center, less time than CR from Heights
Would Type 10 really be able to go faster? Riverside to Park is 40 minutes typically and the issue I've seen has been more getting bogged down at Kenmore than anything else. Needham Heights would be at least that long and likely longer. And Park is a destination for sure but Back Bay and South Station are a bigger draw and I would think would be better with CR, even without electrification.

If it was possible to keep both, that would be ideal.
 

HenryAlan

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I think @Tallguy is probably using Type 10 as shorthand for the entire Green Line transformation process, which includes higher capacity cars that are faster boarding, smoothing some tight turns, better signalling, etc. All told, it will shave several minutes off the Riverside to Park schedule. Riverside is the 4th station after the branch location (just before Eliot, outbound). The Needham branch would likely also be four stops (one infill, plus Heights, Center, and Junction). It would likely be about 35 minutes, which compares favorably with the commuter rail.

As for your concern about destination, South Station might take a bit longer, as it would involve a transfer to Red Line, but Back Bay would be nearly as well served at Copley. Of course, lots of South Station riders are taking the Red Line to Kendal, so they'd again be better served by the Green Line. I'd be most concerned about Ruggles, as it would require a somewhat convoluted transfer and back track.
 

The EGE

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The Type 8s are severely speed restricted, which increases travel times on the D Branch. Once they're purged in favor of the Type 10s, much of the D can be 50mph, which alone is several minutes of time saved. Improved signalling, true level boarding, and dispatching based on real-time data - all of which will reduce bunching - will also measurably improve travel times.
 

jklo

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I'd be most concerned about Ruggles, as it would require a somewhat convoluted transfer and back track.
Ruggles itself isn't that big of a draw, you have Northeastern right there but the bigger employment draw is LMA. Green would be better for sure there since it's closer.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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As a 125mph rated EMU, the MLV seems good enough to me for launch on PVD-BOS* and we can worry later about dwell times.

Maryland's MLV (for use in the NEC) is the slightly-less-tall car in the middle of this test consist:
Raw upper speed isn't really that important. While the MLV EMU's will be rated for 125 MPH because NJT's RFP specs that for the Trenton super-expresses that can hit that speed, in the real world they probably aren't going to be maintained to that standard. There's such vanishingly few spots at commuter rail station spacing where >90 is sustainable long enough to make much difference when drawing up a schedule that there's never been a New Haven Line EMU in the last 86 years ordered with a top speedometer rating of >90, never been a third-rail EMU in New York with a top speed of >90, and never been a NJ/PA/MD EMU maintained at any higher than 100 MPH (even the ones that were factory-orderable at higher than that). For the Providence Line, you're really looking at an absolute cap of 100 MPH where anything higher--even factory-orderable makes like the MLV's--ends up shortening component livespans to hold them to a maintenance standard for 110-125 MPH when they might not see more than a few seconds' worth of triple-digit speeds during the course of an entire service day. Indeed, the Rotem and rebuilt Kawasaki bi-levels + HSP-46 locos are capped at 93 MPH, which is about the most they could rev up to on a Providence Line schedule. An EMU set is looking at roughly the same, because Providence does not feature very many express runs; Sharon, Mansfield, Atttleboro, et al. are just too important to skip.

* IIRC, RI didn't string catenary PVD-Wickford
That's only on the short lengths of freight track that both stations sit on. The mainline is entirely wired state line to state line. RIDOT will need a federal grant of its own to fund Cranston substation upgrades, wire-up of Pawtucket layover, and a couple infill sites. Not big money, but because they're a financially constrained state and MassDOT can't launder the money some fed help would really make a difference. The complete list of electrification upgrades you have to do to the NEC:
  • Sharon substation doubling of capacity (covers South Station terminal district + Fairmount Line needs)
  • Other terminal district fittings (TBD electrified layover tracks, etc.)
  • Wire-up of any service-increasing trackwork, such as tri- and quad-track construction (not needed as a base requirement for electric-anything, but practically needed to support RUR frequencies)
  • Attleboro Station platform track wire-up (center Amtrak passers are the only powered tracks).
  • Pawtucket Layover wire-up.
  • Pawtucket Station wire-up (planned during construction).
  • Cranston substation expansion for Norton, MA to Groton, CT power section (less intensive work required than Sharon)
  • T.F. Green. . .
    • northbound/Track 4 platform construction + wire-up
    • construction of freight gauntlet track on current platform track (so P&W autoracks can slot *between* the wires on Tk. 1 & 3
    • wire-up of Tk. 3
    • (if greenlit by RIDOT & Feds) construction of Amtrak platforms on Tk.'s 1 & 2
  • Wickford northbound/Track 4 construction + wire-up, and wire-up of the existing platform track (no special freight clearance considerations)
  • Any other RIDOT infills (Cranston, East Greenwich, West Davisville) greenlit for construction to coincide with the base electrification requirements.
  • Davisville Yard construction (shared RIDOT/T/Amtrak maintenance Yard at the Quonset Point freight turnouts...tracks here would be powered).
 

Riverside

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  • Attleboro Station platform track wire-up (center Amtrak passers are the only powered tracks).
Minor quibble, but the northbound easternmost track (Track 4 I think?) is also powered right now. Or at least it's wired. I've wondered about that for a while, actually, why there's that asymmetry.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Minor quibble, but the northbound easternmost track (Track 4 I think?) is also powered right now. Or at least it's wired. I've wondered about that for a while, actually, why there's that asymmetry.
That might've been recent for track work, since old Street View pans of the station had only the center tracks wired.

It's only a few thousand bucks in hardware, so could've easily been done in secret if Amtrak was track-shifting for an expected track outage.
 

tangent

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How are DMU's doable in the nearer-term? You can't buy FRA-compliants today or for at least the next 5-7 years because of terrible business decisions by some of last decade's most ballhyooed manufacturers colliding head-on with "Buy America" sucking the life out of small-unit orders. You literally can get EMU's on the property fresh from the factory decked in Purple Line livery in sooner time than that by purchasing Bombardier MLV coaches and cab cars with the upcoming 200-unit coach RFP, then making a deal with NJ Transit for a couple dozen of their 'slush' MLV power car options.

If you're going to non-specifically criticize them for kicking the can, try picking an example that isn't a strawman's delight at can-kickery as the counterexample. Frankly, if you're concerned about service starts while they get the hardware side of the upgrades settled then the question to ask is "How can we use the soon-to-be-surplus Pullman single-levels, Bombardier cab cars, and a bumper crop of Amtrak leaser locomotives about to become available to service ASAP while the electrification backfills on a timetable TBD?" The last thing we need is a some talking points' repeat of the Patrick Administration's "The vehicle IS the service" DMU purchase bullcrap imposing artificially long timetables on seeding more frequent corridor service because the pols decreed they must blow a wad on the sexy toy before making any promises to run frequent. When in fact there's nothing the current equipment is physically incapable of running if repurposed for fast turns, other than you want to keep that bridge era of diesel push-pulls covering for EMU's-in-wait to be as short as possible because the ops costs chew will start to get unfavorable a few years on. But spare us this "no realistic options" tripe. A whole freaking lot has yet to be prioritized for this rollout, including what to do with the coming equipment surplus to front-load more frequencies sooner.
Good to see our DMU estimates are in the same range... 5 to 7 years. Which is nearer term than electrification unless you think electrification can practically happen in the next ten years? I mean realistically. Large capital investment and scheduling years of service disruption for construction. Buying additional buses to carry passengers during all those service disruptions. Selling years of commuter hell to politicians once they realize the price tag and service disruptions which will inflate the price as they try to reduce disruptions or more likely just spread them out making it overall more expensive and more disruptive but more palatable from a re-election perspective.

To be practical we are going to have to see a 10 to 15 year build out of dedicated bus lanes along routes that parallel those lines. Which would be a good thing, but it doesn't get us to electrification in the next 10 or 15 years. I think 20 years is more realistic.

Though I am interested to hear more how they could practically achieve higher frequency service with existing rolling stock and equipment? That would be a preferable nearer term stop gap solution. If it just means hiring some people, better management and some smaller less disruptive infrastructure investments that could be a 2020 to 2025 win.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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Good to see our DMU estimates are in the same range... 5 to 7 years. Which is nearer term than electrification unless you think electrification can practically happen in the next ten years? I mean realistically. Large capital investment and scheduling years of service disruption for construction. Buying additional buses to carry passengers during all those service disruptions. Selling years of commuter hell to politicians once they realize the price tag and service disruptions which will inflate the price as they try to reduce disruptions or more likely just spread them out making it overall more expensive and more disruptive but more palatable from a re-election perspective.

To be practical we are going to have to see a 10 to 15 year build out of dedicated bus lanes along routes that parallel those lines. Which would be a good thing, but it doesn't get us to electrification in the next 10 or 15 years. I think 20 years is more realistic.

Though I am interested to hear more how they could practically achieve higher frequency service with existing rolling stock and equipment? That would be a preferable nearer term stop gap solution. If it just means hiring some people, better management and some smaller less disruptive infrastructure investments that could be a 2020 to 2025 win.
That's 5-7 years IF the market warms. Right now Stadler is still non-waiverable for the freights one has to encounter in MBTA terminal district territory, and because those were the only things being pushed around Buy America regs they've managed to do a steady if not altogether gangbusters business off the backs of expansion systems. That is still not a sustainable blueprint for success. The FRA-compliants are--of course--designed from the ground up as domestic product. So when all of the vendors producing said product are foreign you can't simply can't open up a pop-up factory factory to assemble orders or 7- and 18- units like Nippon-Sharyo did for SMART and UP-Express (which is immediately electrifying!!!). Nobody's can make money on orders that small. N-S thought this business was going to be gratis while it built 130 bi-level corridor cars for Amtrak, muscled itself in as the heir-apparent for the Superliner III LD cars, and continued to schlep some Metra gallery car (EMU and push-pull variety) business. Then their Amtrak product, already years late, failed a crucial crash test....and never ever un-failed it. They lost their shirts on the penalties from that canceled contract, and this DMU product of theirs that was supposed to be a loss leader to lock up favors while they pursued world (or at least 8-inch boarding) domination was suddenly a very expensive commitment to still be saddled with. They finished the orders and promptly withdrew the product from the market.

No one else can make a buck doing this on the FRA-compliants when orders are line-by-line, expansion-by-expansion, no more than 1-1/2 dozen at a time. The Stadlers move because no modification = no need to bother engaging any of the Buy America machinery. Great if you can get it; too bad we can't. Nothing projects different in the FRA-compliants space for the forecastable future. The next buyer who's got to make an FRA-compliants purchase is either 1) West Side Express, who have ridden out their original-purchase Colorado Railcar lemons and are now mixing/matching refurrbbed Budd RDC's until UP-E electrifies and puts its fleet for sale, and 2) SMART who'd also be gunning for UP-E's fleet as expansion room (possibly making them the only user in the world of that make by this point). It's all lateral movement driven by the pending fleet replacement of Toronto's diesels. Meanwhile, the smallest EMU order of the last 30 years was Metra Electric's initial '05 batch of Highliner II's with only 25...and they and NITCD followed that up with a second batch of 175 barely 5 years later. You have orders of 113 MLV's for NJT, another 120+ for SEPTA, and 500+ options...then 94 more Kawasaki M8's on-order from Metro North and 328 M9 cars from LIRR. Not 6 or 8 or 12 cars...hundreds apiece.

The only manufacturer with an extant FRA-compliant DMU determined they could no longer afford to assemble their product here. And right now...they're the only manufacturer with such a product to float. So you are either looking for CRRC or the Chinese to pull a DMU rabbit out of the hat with a product we don't know yet they're even R&D'ing (and why would they when the push-pull, EMU, and subway markets they are trying to crack will keep a factory open for years with far larger orders). Or, we've got to hope that the recent relaxing of FRA standards gets the Euros like Stadler a little more adventurous about adapting their wares for the domestic market. At those unit totals, fat chance...if there's only going to be dreeps and dribbles of domestic interest, then they have to keep living outside of Buy America like they always have. There's the extremely unlikely chance Bombardier will do something for Canada, but they didn't think to do that already when UP-E needed DMU's and now they don't. If not those possibilities...that have no quantifiable probabilities going for them in 2019...then who???

Yeah, the market can get off the fence in 7 years. It can also not just as easily. This isn't an aB-only question. The whole editorial board of Railway Age Magazine asks this every day.
 

Tallguy

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If Regional Rail is not derailed,we will have so many projects to hit the feds with that we could buy alt compliant euro stuff, like the DEMU FLIRT for ER with state money and not worry about Buy American. Get them in three yrs, plus a year for the RFP etc. NEC/Fairmount electrification should be quick and relatively painless, and there and platforms is where we should be looking for grant money. Either piggyback on the MLV order for the EMU needs with fed money. Four-five years out? Or use state money to buy european here as well. I happen to like the Bombardier Aventra myself, but you pickem. First order would be for 20 trainsets. Could have nearly bought them for the money we are spending on the H-R crapcars.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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If Regional Rail is not derailed,we will have so many projects to hit the feds with that we could buy alt compliant euro stuff, like the DEMU FLIRT for ER with state money and not worry about Buy American. Get them in three yrs, plus a year for the RFP etc. NEC/Fairmount electrification should be quick and relatively painless, and there and platforms is where we should be looking for grant money. Either piggyback on the MLV order for the EMU needs with fed money. Four-five years out? Or use state money to buy european here as well. I happen to like the Bombardier Aventra myself, but you pickem. First order would be for 20 trainsets. Could have nearly bought them for the money we are spending on the H-R crapcars.
Absolutely. Arguably we need the FRA-compliant DMU's market to un-freeze to put all the tools to work, but frozen solid it continues to be...longer than anyone thought it would go for. The original RFP for Nippon-Sharyo equipment on the Fairmount LIne from over half-decade ago was a 24-car (married-triplet) base order. With N-S shutting its doors soon after, that's exactly the kind of quantities that are much too small to open an assembly factory when nearly all EMU and coach orders (or both in the case of the Bombardier MLV's) are far larger. So unfortunately finding a way around the deep freeze means finding a way to increase the unit quantities to something "general purpose". That unfortunately is very hard with DMU's when fuel efficiency stinks on a trans-495 schedule compared to P-P, the better-than-PP/much-worse-than-EMU acceleration only finds its niche on certain stop spacings most likely to reside on intra-128 schedules, and the extra fuel/engine bulk makes hybridizing the setup with trailers for capacity management far more difficult than, say, the plug-and-play MLV's. They'd have to filet diesel ops to keep the cost margins appropriate for each type of equipment, but that pigeonholes DMU's into a very small fleet size (which would be fine if it the market hadn't already spoken such volumes about how that doesn't wash with Buy America). 'Round and 'round we go.

I wish Bombardier would qualify something for the relaxed regs too, but they show zero indication of wanting to. And why should they? 600+ MLV's 'slush'-orderable, going gangbusters for the GO Transit electrification order of 8-inch boarding BLV EMU's that'll be almost as large units-wise, then no doubt a single-level product of some sort to cap off the modular product offerings. Moving a dozen DMU's here and there between those monster EMU and P-P orders means nothing to them. They're happy to keep that product in Europe where the build quantities are much larger. If the Canadian gov't charity doesn't compel it under their "Buy Canadian" home-field advantage, then they see less than nothing to chase wrestling with "Buy America".


So it's getting to the point where now that RUR is a go we have to start plotting for what the Plan B's are going to be if the market doesn't jar loose in the given time frame. Because this deep freeze has outlasted prediction and is persisting into a volatile tariff environment which means the small-unit orders really aren't rounding out the mix like they used to. I think those Plan B's have to include a 12-year max (no more, even the pretty-good condition Pullmans and rebuilt F40PH-3C's aren't going to stretch longer than that) of subbing the P-P equipment on seeder routes with aggressive PoP automation and precision trainset management...so long as there's an up-front transition plan for moving off the costlier-to-run (but very much schedule-capable) equipment when better stuff is available. We can do that much, and it doesn't have to succumb to the "vehicle is the service"-itis of the initial Fairmount/Indigo DMU plan so long as there's an established budget + pecking order of wean-offs to electric equipment or _____ TBD.
 

tangent

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If Regional Rail is not derailed,we will have so many projects to hit the feds with that we could buy alt compliant euro stuff, like the DEMU FLIRT for ER with state money and not worry about Buy American. Get them in three yrs, plus a year for the RFP etc. NEC/Fairmount electrification should be quick and relatively painless, and there and platforms is where we should be looking for grant money. Either piggyback on the MLV order for the EMU needs with fed money. Four-five years out? Or use state money to buy european here as well. I happen to like the Bombardier Aventra myself, but you pickem. First order would be for 20 trainsets. Could have nearly bought them for the money we are spending on the H-R crapcars.
Perhaps we need to rethink the procurement then. Pooling our needs with other cities would give us the buying power to kick start the market. Make it a multi-city procurement for say 2 winners for 100 units each. Or three winners 100 units, 100 units and 50 units. I expect there is sufficient demand in aggregate. And once the market is established there should be additional demand for smaller FRA compliant orders.
 

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