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04/04/2016

Monday 4th April 2016 ~ Who'd Run a Bus Service ?

March was a very trying month for the operators of the X1 service. After a relatively quiet period for incidents on the A47 and fleet  problems, March certainly gave those in charge a headache !
On Wednesday 2nd the service ran well with the exception of the 12.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough which turned up at Wisbech 24 late with 33811 only ten minutes before the next bus, 33817. This was a reaction to an earlier incident at East Winch.
33813 had its MOT completed on 3rd and returned to traffic on 5th whereupon 33805 was stopped for the same reason and this was back at work on 10th just a few hours after MOT completion.
 The evening of Sunday 6th saw two problems, firstly the 21.20 Peterborough - King's Lynn with 33811 suffered vandalism at Walton Highway when a window was broken. The bus eventually arrived in Lynn 35 minutes late. By coincidence at almost exactly the same time, 33809 failed at Honingham with a fuel problem on the 22.20 from Norwich and 33806 was sent out as replacement, although 33809 was resuscitated and got as far as Dereham, it was repaired at King's Lynn and managed to be back in service early next morning. 
On Thursday 10th, 33803 finished its duty and limped into Vancouver Avenue after which it shut down and was unable to be moved, this happened at the garage's busiest time and a queue of buses developed until eventually 33803 responded to treatment ! It was subsequently grounded until 15th while the fault was established and rectified.
The morning of Friday 11th saw disruption on the Peterborough - Wisbech section after an accident at Eye Green. The 07.30 from Peterborough (33813) was 13 late from Wisbech and the next service due to depart at 08.55 arrived at 09.27 with 33812. Taking a double load of passengers the lateness had increased to 39 minutes at Walpole. The 08.35 from Peterborough ran 51 late and the 09.05 (33805) was 33 late into Wisbech. After this things quickly returned to normal.
Monday 14th saw 33805  taken out of traffic and replaced by 33814 after becoming noisy. After inspection 33805 was eventually towed to ZF Powertrain at Willenhall for attention to its back axle. It was seen being hauled along the Wisbech bypass by Bruce at 09.30 on 16th. Back to the 14th and 33816 hit a stray dog at Thorney while working the 15.15 from Peterborough. After inspection at King's Lynn 33816 was able to continue in traffic.
Another A47 accident on the Pullover Road west of Lynn caused delays on Thursday 17th. The 07.15 Swaffham - Peterborough (33812)  left Wisbech  23 late as a result, but a swift turnaround at Peterborough saw it arrive back in Wisbech at 10.26, just a minute after its scheduled departure time eastbound. Other services seemed unaffected.
Late on the evening of 17th, 33804 failed just after leaving Peterborough with the 23.30 back to King's Lynn. Fitters attended and were able to get the bus back home. It had a fuel fault and was back in traffic two days later. By Sunday 20th, 33806 was stopped for MOT work and with 33805 still away at Powertrain, 33818 was summoned from Lowestoft to assist in keeping the passengers moving. 
Monday 21st began with 33818 in action working the 07.15 Swaffham - Peterborough, however, this was not  to be a good start to the week and a three vehicle accident near Thorney caused havoc with some services taking the Thorney to Whittlesey route to avoid the obstruction. After the 08.20 service to King's Lynn left Wisbech on time, the next eastbound X1 was 33808 at 09.45 and then 33803 at 09.58 and 33804 at 10.12. The latter had borne the brunt of the delays and was actually the delayed 08.55 departure ! 33818 came back 26 late and then the service got back to normal with 33811 at 11.27 (37 late) and followed by 33807 at 11.29 (9 late). All this had a chaotic effect on positioning of buses and drivers and it was amazing how the service returned to being punctual.

Thursday 24th was predictably busy being the day before the Easter holiday and during the afternoon an accident on Guyhirn Bank with a lorry and three cars affected the X1. The 14.54 Wisbech to Peterborough with 33807 departed 15 minutes late and left by its normal route, however, it did a U turn at Cromwell Road roundabout and by 15.32 it was back in Wisbech to take the diversion via Wisbech St. Mary Even more unusual was the route of 33815 on the 14.15 from Peterborough which ran via Wisbech St. Mary but then encountered a further blockage in Wisbech Old Market, enterprisingly the driver took the route over Town Bridge and took the tight left turn to resume the normal route past the Clarkson Memorial down Nene Quay. This is the first time I have seen this manoeuvre attempted !
The Easter holiday traffic had a detrimental effect on the timetable and on Good Friday Bruce reported the following : 
10.05 ex Norwich 33815 11 late, 11.05 ex Norwich 33806 46 late, 12.05 ex Norwich 33811 24 late and 13.05 ex Norwich 33818 19 late. Going east the 11.05 from Peterborough was 33814 running 37 late, the 12.05 ex Peterborough was 33804 34 late and suggesting that 33806 terminated at Wisbech it returned on the 14.05 from Peterborough just 4 minutes late. All observations made near Walpole Highway.
Very unusually on Easter Sunday and Monday the same six buses were out on the road, these being 33804/10/11/13/15/17.  
On 26th 33806 was stopped with an alternator problem but it was back in use on 30th, while 33805 arrived back on 31st and plans were made to return loan vehicle 33818 to Lowestoft, however, the best laid plans and all that. 33808 decided to play up. It was taken on a test run and lost all power on the A47 Tilney bypass. It was collected from this point and carted off to ZF having the gearbox drive plates problem. This is surprising as all the fleet have had remedial work carried out to prevent this. So 33818 is still with us as I write and 33809 is now being prepared for its MOT.
All this has rather overshadowed the announcement of the changes to the western section of the service taking place from 17th April. The opportunity to again provide a regular interval weekday evening service has again been passed over and instead the 20.20 departure from King's Lynn will now terminate at Wisbech, which sounds guaranteed to provide some fun.  The evening departures from Peterborough will now be at 19.30, 20.30 and 22.30. The 22.30 departures from Norwich and Peterborough will be the last two arrivals in King's Lynn at around midnight. On Sundays the late evening service is completely withdrawn and the last two services into King's Lynn are the 20.05 from Peterborough and 20.20 from Norwich. The latter is the last arrival at King's Lynn at 21.46.
The new timetable can be downloaded here :



01/03/2016

Monday February 29th 2016 ~ View from on High

Nearly managed to miss a calendar month without an update, but hey we don't get February 29th every year so let's get on with it.
The revised timetable in the west is due to begin on about April 17th. As expected the gap in the evening service from Peterborough is to be corrected and although last buses will be earlier, at least we can get back to a regular timetable (well that's what I'm hoping !)
I recently had a trip to Norwich on the X1 at the invitation of our old friend Victor Meldrew.  I already had a Western Ten trip ticket, so it just meant buying a Dereham to Norwich day return to fill the validity. It did make me wonder how many people actually do this, as the driver seemed very surprised when we went downstairs at Dereham and explained the circumstances. Nevertheless, we had a good day and I took the opportunity to take some photographs from upstairs of passing services. Apparently consideration is being given to abandoning the 5 year rolling replacement programme and the current fleet may be replaced after 4 years. Among the options being discussed are a new fleet of coaches with extra capacity for use on the western section, while existing vehicles may remain on the Norwich - Lowestoft leg. This is all very uncertain though and planning is at an early stage.
MOT's have started on the King's Lynn Enviros although the plans were disrupted when the first candidate, 33803, was away for repairs when it was due, so 33804 took its place. In fact 33803/6 were both away for repairs at Cummins and Full Circle, so this saw the temporary loan of Lowestoft's 33819 to cover the shortfall.
33803 was absent from 29th January to 12th February after sustaining a severe oil leak and 33806 which had been involved in a scrape with an errant car was out of service between January 23rd and February 4th. 33819 arrived to help out on January 28th and returned home after use on 11th February. The MOT on 33804 took place between 7th & 10th February.
Zak Nelson reports that the Lowestoft fleet of Enviros has at last received vinyls stating ' Cared for by the Lowestoft  depot team' which is good to hear.
Here are the aforementioned pictures taken on my day trip to Norwich .....
We were just approaching Walton Highway having left the B198 when we encountered 33806 heading for Peterborough on the 06.45 from Norwich, the first westbound through service of the day.
On the Pullover Road just west of the roundabout 33809 flew by with the 07.15 ex Norwich


The new King's Lynn Interchange with 33817 occupying the X1 bay with the 09.35 Peterborough departure (07.45 ex Norwich). Conflicting arrival times mean some services have to use alternative bays as seen here.
On loan to King's Lynn depot to cover for absentees, Lowestoft allocated 33819 passes through Middleton spot on time on the 08.15 Norwich - Peterborough


Necton and 33812 with a cheery wave from Wyn arrives on the 09.15 from Norwich. The 08.05 from Peterborough which I was on with 33816 is booked to pass this service at 10.14 here so the timetable was running well to schedule.
Having just left Easton and rejoined the A47, 33813 passes by on the 10.30 Norwich - Peterborough X1 and another wave from GH, we are doing well !
Shortly after leaving Norwich 33815 heads for Dereham on the 11.00 Norwich - Peterborough.
Last one for now and contrasting liveries on former X1 Geminis. 37573 nearest the camera is in new Excel livery with a connecting X1 to Lowestoft, while 37569 in the distance is ready to leave on the direct service X2.
All photographs were taken on Tuesday February 9th 2016

21/01/2016

Thursday January 21st 2016 ~ Frost but no snow

Well I can hardly believe Christmas and New Year have passed the blog by ! Hope you all had good ones. Time to catch up with goings on . Firstly a word about the proposed changes at the western end of the route - these have now been postponed owing to a delay in finalising the drivers rosters and registering the changes with VOSA. March 2016 now looks more likely. Slightly revised fares came into operation on 11th January.
Since the last post the service has generally well with a few notable exceptions. Pre Christmas congestion affected a few services on 16th December, the 08.35 Peterborough - Norwich (which is a pretty good guide as to morning traffic conditions) was 17 late into Wisbech with 33805 and Friday 18th was predictably busy. 33810 which had worked the 08.35 was only 6 late but by the time it had been to Norwich and back it was 23 late on the 14.24 Wisbech - Peterborough, also that day the 15.24 westbound was 14 late with 33805. By 22nd afternoon services were generally running around 15 minutes late and on 23rd the 12.25 Wisbech - Norwich was seen 23 late at Walsoken with 33809 while other services were only slightly delayed.
 Christmas Eve was marred by a car crash at Wendling which occurred around 14.30 and tragically claimed the lives of three people. Not surprisingly the X1 was diverted to avoid the area and delays were inevitable. The 14.45 and 15.45 services from King's Lynn to Peterborough are believed to have been cancelled as was the 16.15 Peterborough - Norwich and 19.40 return to King's Lynn but otherwise services ran,though often well out of course. The 16.39 arrival from Norwich (33808) then did the delayed 16.15 to Peterborough and 33812 which was due in from Norwich at 17.39 then formed the delayed 17.15 eastbound back to Norwich. With a few vehicle swaps for maintenance purposes in the period between Christmas and New Year, things ran fairly smoothly.
Into 2016 and the first few days were quiet with only an accident at West Bilney causing slight delays on 5th : 33816 seemed to be the only westbound bus affected and this was 25 late departing Wisbech for Peterborough on the 10.44 service.
 Flooding is not a phenomenon which normally affects the X1 route, but the very heavy rain of January 7th caused chaos in the afternoon. The A47 was under water near Honingham and then an accident nearby made things worse. Some X1 services were diverted to reach the A1047 and arrive from the Fakenham direction in Norwich. The repercussions of this were not evident  on the western section until after the 11.00 from Norwich had passed through on time. Subsequent services ran. Westbound from Wisbech services ran as follows : 13.54 to Peterborough 33807 20 late, 14.24 33817 36 late, 14.54 cancelled, 15.24 33815 35 late. Darkness fell after that but delays and cancellations continued. Fortunately next day, Friday 8th, the X1 service ran completely to timetable so everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The evening of Sunday 10th saw an unexpected vehicle swap when 33805 went into derate mode and had to be changed for 33814 to work the 19.58 King's Lynn - Peterborough and 21.20 return.
Failures in service have been rare though, On 29th December 33804 failed at Hockering but was able back to limp back to King's Lynn on the 18.40 ex Norwich. The next leg of the turn, the 20.20 King's Lynn - Peterborough was taken on by 33813, 33804 was taken out of service and went to Cummins at Wellingborough for repairs.Ian spotted it returning through Thorney on Friday 8th on tow and it eventually returned to traffic on 12th January. 33808 departed from King's Lynn as the 16.45 to Peterborough on 13th but was halted at Tilney with its engine in derate mode. 33809 was despatched to take over, then next day 33816 broke down with a suspension fault in Wisbech bus station before leaving as the 11.44 to Peterborough. 33810 was sent to the rescue but resumed the turn with the 13.25 to Norwich. 33816 was repaired and was out again next day. To date (21st) 33806 has worked on every day since January 2nd and apart from the three Bank Holidays has worked daily since 14th December.
Over in the East reports have been few but Malcolm says that the most unusual sight of late was on 4th January when the 09.45 Norwich - Lowestoft had the delights of ex Cornwall Dart thingy 42914.
Finally in this report a look at the King's Lynn fleet mileage as at 7th January, I hope to bring you the Lowestoft fleet next time.

33803 222367
33804 237150
33805 244140
33806 251315
33807 232990
33808 220640
33809 072006*
33810 246576
33811 238620
33812 255620
33813 237004
33814 248677
33815 246005
33816 226065
33817 226886

* 33809 has been fitted with a replacement odometer. The hub meter read 239294. Highest mileage is 33812 and lowest 33808 which has had a couple of occasions out of traffic for bodywork repairs.

Oh and I nearly forgot - the guys who fix the boards on the buses have had a bit of a nightmare of late - I am told an old hand is to step in and put things right.




15/12/2015

Tuesday 15th December 2015 ~ Early to Bed

Well since my last offering, there has been a revised timetable introduced on the eastern section between Norwich, Yarmouth & Lowestoft. These alterations mean a slightly reduced service at Lowestoft as a few services now terminate at James Paget Hospital. There have also been big changes on the X2 with the main service now running fast from Beccles to Norwich and the X22 supplementing this by calling at Loddon and the villages. Kieran Smith explains the changes in greater detail here : http://norwichbusesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/major-changes-to-first-x1-and-x2-this.html
Lowestoft now have Geminis 37575/6/7/9 in addition to 37563 -72 inclusive on their books to cater for the increased vehicle requirement. While on the subject of Lowestoft, Plaxton Pointer Dart 42943 (ex Camborne) has arrived at the expense of 43865 - the latter a 7'6" wide Caetano Nimbus bodied Dart which may be more suited to Cornwall's narrow lanes, assuming this was a straight swap and East Norfolk bus blog reveals that this is indeed the case with 42358 and 43861 also heading west. Back at Yarmouth, ex Green Line 37275 is now expected to appear in these parts before long to increase the fleet of X1 vehicles. Thanks to East Norfolk Bus Blog for this gen. Paragon coach 20501, formerly of X1 fame, along with 20515 has been busy operating rail replacement services on the eastern part of the X1 route during the recent diesel unit crisis at Crown Point
Photo copyright : Kieran Smith

At the Western end of the X1, the late night services are being curtailed from next month. Currently the last two buses arrive back at King's Lynn around 01.00, but in the revised timetable the last bus is believed to be due back an hour earlier. On Sundays the service finishes much earlier from January, the present 01.00 finishes being scaled right back so that the last arrival at King's Lynn garage is at about 22.00. It is not known whether the new schedules will see the evening services revert to an hourly interval pattern rather than the ragged departure times in the present timetable. 
Looking back over the last month, the usual causes for delays have been evident, namely incidents on the A47, in particular the Acle Straight. On the western section, Tuesday 17th November was a poor day with the peaktime 07.15 Swaffham - Peterborough leaving Wisbech 17 minutes late (33815), however, some smart driving saw it come back just a minute behind schedule,  The next bus ran to time, but an hour later the 09.44 ex Wisbech westbound (07.15 from Norwich) passed by 16 late with 33814, this also regained most of the deficit though coming back just 2 minutes late. Later the 11.44 Wisbech - Peterborough came past 18 late with 33804 but the arrears had been reduced to 7 minutes on its return eastbound. Finally on 17th the 13.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough and 14.45 return were cancelled due to no driver being available. An accident on Wisbech Horsefair roundabout caused a few problems on the morning of 19th and 33803 on the 10.44 Wisbech - Peterborough eventually got away 18 minutes late. The 07,30 Peterborough - Norwich due through Walpole Highway at 08.31 was delayed on Monday 23rd, 33814 running 16 late and next day 33803 was 10 late on the same service. This one is usually a fairly good timekeeper. On the 24th also, the 09.35 from Peterborough had a unhindered run and was seen coming into Wisbech 4 early with 33815. During December thus far services have in general run quite well with the expected heavier loadings. Friday 11th was a good example when just one service was seen delayed, this being 33816 on the 15.24 Wisbech - Peterborough which had lost 15 minutes. A rather bizarre if unfortunate incident happened on Wednesday 25th November, a motorist was stung by a wasp and went into cardiac arrest causing closure of Guyhirn bank on the A47. 33806 working the 13.24 Wisbech - Peterborough departed on time by the usual route, only to be halted by the congestion, so it then turned round and came back into Wisbech at 13.42 before taking the route via Wisbech St. Mary. 
The King's Lynn fleet of Enviros seem to have been fairly well behaved over the period under review. The last week though has seen 33817 sent to Cummins for engine attention and 33811 in engine derate plus 33805 with a gear problem. 


X1s gather for their roost at King's Lynn garage

The delights of Chapelfield are being extolled on many Enviros at the moment, but the weather has not been encouraging for would  be shoppers

12/11/2015

Wednesday 11th November 2015 ~ More Pix and things

Thanks to Cameron Robinson we can see 'newby' 37274 at work today on the X1 , firstly at Great Yarmouth and later at Norwich :





Photos copyright Cameron Robinson
Doesn't look like 37274 will get the disfiguring adverts either ! Cameron also reports that similarly liveried 37578 put in an appearance on the 14.50 service 7 to Belton this afternoon, while 32061 worked the 07.40 Lowestoft - Norwich returning as far as Yarmouth where it was swapped for an Enviro 400. This might possibly have been 33821 which was due to receive a new alternator ar Great Yarmouth today. 

In response to Richard Adderson's queries about diversionary routes a driver ( whose anonymity has been respected) says "Just read your latest posting. I think you will get different responses from different drivers on the subject of how much discretion drivers are allowed. One thing to keep in mind is it is my belief that our route is not fixed, just the stops are fixed, although some are missed during major disruptions on the A47.

I can really only speak for myself. Most of the time when one sees X1 buses on secondary roads it is usually due to being diverted by controllers to get around road blockages. Whether a Controller will divert a particular bus comes down to an individual drivers experience. At the Peterborough end of the route  I personally have several ways out of the city if the usual route is blocked or congested, especially during school/peak hour traffic. In the evenings after 1800, drivers are generally left to their own devices, I have been known to take the bumpy little road between Thorney and Whittlesea when the A47 was suddenly closed for roadworks without any notification as an example. So drivers do have some discretion, depending on the time of day and the circumstances"

Norwich Bus Station on 27th October at midday showing 33821 & 33822 , one just arrived the other departed a few seconds after I took the photo. Photo : A Nonymous

11/11/2015

Tuesday 10th November 2015 ~ More X1 News !

Two updates in two days - good grief whatever next ? Well firstly here's a nice pic from Grahame Bessey (http://eastnorfolkbus.blogspot.co.uk/) of the ex Greenline Gem 37274 about to commence its first day working off Great Yarmouth. Grahame says it's not up to his usual standard as the light was very poor, but it looks good to me !


More news from the east is reported by Malcolm Hicks where on Monday 9th 32348 newly repainted in urban livery performed with the 09.40 Lowestoft - Yarmouth X1 while another stranger was 32629 on the 10.40 an hour later. 

Richard Adderson wrote to me last week and said " I went out for lunch at Cantley today (3rd Nov) , and was driving towards Thorpe End on the B1140 around 11.50 when I was confronted with an X1 coming the other way (into Norwich), which I later discovered was avoiding the A47 owing to the latest accident at North Burlingham. Fair enough, this had obviously been diverted from Acle via South Walsham, a straightforward alternative.
Later though, around 2.50, I met another Enviro, destination blind Norwich, heading south on the byroad which runs from Blofield, through Blofield Corner up the the B1140. I can only imagine he too had come from Acle via South Walsham, but had chosen to rejoin the A47 at the Brundall roundabout, west of the blockage, and take the normal route into Norwich from there.
 The latter makes me wonder how much discretion drivers are allowed in altering their routes to avoid road closures – is there some sort of central control which tells them where to go, when the usual route is unexpectedly blocked, or are they left to their own devices? The earlier bus would have had a straight run on the “back road” from Acle, but would have become ensnared in the city traffic from the Heartsease onwards, while the other would have had a tortuous journey from the B1140 to Blofield but the benefit of dual carriageway as far as Trowse.  Any idea what the policy is with this? Or if not, maybe worth putting the query on the blog one day?
And sorry, no photographs nor bus fleet numbers – I was driving in the opposite direction on both occasions! "
Well over to you dear readers, I know some of you will know the answer or have tales of your own on this subject.

Yesterday (Monday) saw what is (thankfully) an ultra rare spectacle, when two X1s arrived in Wisbech following each other - not even a car separating them - these being 33815 & 33806 working the 13.45 and 14.15 services from Peterborough respectively. The 13.05 service with 33812 had arrived on time at 13.50 but there was then a gap of 74 minutes before the pair of buses turned up at 15.04. This seemed to be an isolated incident and other services ran to time. In contrast, today (Tuesday), the 10.05 from Peterborough was seen arriving at Wisbech 5 minutes early with 33809.

09/11/2015

Sunday 9th November 2015 ~ All's Well

A few things to report since the last update. 37274 has arrived at Yarmouth painted in Excel blue livery and 32348 is due shortly in Urban livery. 33819 suffered a rear end smash in Gorleston last week and is now at Full Circle for repairs, but otherwise the Enviro 400 fleet are all in service. 33816 was in trouble on Friday night (6th November) when it shut down soon after leaving Peterborough near the A15 junction on the last eastbound service to King's Lynn. Engineering staff attended bringing 33807 to rescue about a dozen passengers and 33816 was restarted and returned to King's Lynn for investigation. I hope to do a more detailed update shortly.

13/10/2015

Tuesday 13th October 2015 ~ Blue Bus Blues


A bit like the X1 blog - another magnificent obsession. 33814 in King's Lynn garage on the evening of 10th October.

With several buses having sustained body panel damage in recent months, affected vehicles are being dealt with at the bodyshops at Full Circle near Norwich. In the past month 33807 has spent a fortnight being repaired and on its return on October 6th, 33817 went to the same destination for attention to a nasty crease in the rear bodywork sustained many months back. From an operational point of view, the Enviro 400s at the west end of the route have been quite well behaved. Yesterday (12th) however, 33811 broke down at Thorney Toll on an afternoon working and it is believed to require new injectors / injector linings before it can be returned to traffic. Other casualties have been few and far between though, notably on 16th September when the 09.44 Wisbech - Peterborough was cancelled because of a problem with 33805 and on 5th October when 33816 was unable to work the 16.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough I think because of a problem with its water pump. On the positive side 33814 & 33815 have worked on 40 out of the last 42 days, the latter having been out every day since September 7th.
Showbus this year was at Woburn Abbey on 20th September and 33808 represented the X1 fleet in what I'm told was a rather muddy affair ! Over in the East, the highlight - if that is the right word - appears to have been the use of Streetlite 47505 on the 10.00 Lowestoft - Yarmouth on 24th September, Malcolm wonders if it went through to Norwich ? Well according to the East Norfolk bus blog, it did Malcolm and ENBB also report the recent arrival at Great Yarmouth of former X1 Paragon 20501 for contract work after a pending MOT.
Here are a few recent pictures as I decided it was high time I got out and about with the camera again - gosh I've even got some drivers requesting to appear in the blog, whatever next :)

After a rather scrumptious lunch at the Woolpack at Terrington St. John (recommended for generous portions and if you feel so inclined, a good place to spot passing X1s !) we were just about to leave on Friday 2nd October when, rather conveniently 33806 appeared heading east working the 12.55 Wisbech to King's Lynn otherwise known as the 12.05 Peterborough - Norwich service.

Having been rather pleased with my Friday photo, I decided to take a few more next day although the weather wasn't quite as bright. This is one of my favourite spots as you will probably know, near Walpole Highway and here 33804 was captured working the 11.35 Peterborough - Norwich.

Having seen 33804 at Walpole, the opportunity seemed too good to pass up, so my chauffeur drove back along the route so that I could try and get two Enviros  in one picture. This was the rather poor result at Terrington St. John with 33804 peeling away in the distance as 33815 passes by on the 10.30 Norwich - Peterborough. 

Once the sun moves round after lunch it is not easy to get good pictures of eastbound services in this locality, hence this rather head on shot of 33812 passing through Walpole Highway while working the 12.35 Peterborough - Norwich again on Saturday October 3rd.
Westbound afternoon services are a totally different prospect photographically and on a very pleasant Sunday 4th October, Bruce and myself were having a chinwag about all things X1 when 33812 (again) passed by at just after 2pm working the 12.05 Norwich - Peterborough.
On an altogether greyer Saturday 10th October, 33806 is seen again heading for Wisbech near Walton Highway forming the 09.50 Norwich - Peterborough X1.

13/09/2015

Sunday 13th September 2015 ~ Time Flies By


'Time flies by when  you are the driver of a train' - that's how the song went and some of you will know where it is from ! Probably the same when driving a bus, certainly when you are a blogger.
Over a month since the last report and my house is approaching completion, so may be more frequent updates before long.
Nothing groundbreaking to report, in fact the pending arrival in Lowestoft of 30888 in Lowestoft Corporation colours would be much more noteworthy. Gemini 37579 is a transfer from Yarmouth to Lowestoft and reports that 34108 (former X1 standby) and 34114 were to be retired at the beginning of September appear to have been premature as both have been seen in service since. When this does happen, 34111 will be the only remaining Royale at Yarmouth in use. Keep up to date with developments at
http://eastnorfolkbus.blogspot.co.uk/

32203 was at King's Lynn last Wednesday but  not for X1 standby, instead it was en route to Rotherham for refurbishment.

Now where were we ? I suppose we ought to start with a fleet update on the Enviro 400s. 33807 is back from bodywork repairs and 33816 also visited Full Circle for roof repairs in the period under review after low tree branches caused some damage. As I write all the fleet are to my knowledge available for service. 33807 has yet to have its full rear advert reapplied and looks a little undressed at the moment, see picture below.

One issue that has been causing concern for sometime are reflections from the passenger saloons experienced by drivers at night. Back in March 2015, 33808/9 were fitted with inverters to the lower deck saloon lights, reducing them by 50%. After further testing, in May 33814/5 were modified to an 80% reduction and this was agreed to still be a safe level of lighting for customers. This has virtually eliminated the reflection problems and feedback is now being received which if positive, will probably result in the modified lighting settings being adopted for the entire fleet.

On the road, the last four weeks has seen more than the usual number of incidents on the A47 resulting in delays and diversions to the X1. There has also been a shortage of drivers at the western end of the route which has even caused a few cancellations which is extremely unusual. As recently as Friday (11th) all three supervisors at King's Lynn had to supplement the rostered drivers to maintain the service. A job to say which was the worst day for delays, but the Friday (28th) prior to Bank Holiday weekend must be favourite. I popped down to see Bruce at Walpole Highway at lunchtime and things were already disrupted. 33805 working the 11.35 from Peterborough came by dead on time at 12.37 (did it terminate at Wisbech I wonder ?) but at 12.51, the 10.35 from Peterborough finally appeared running 76 minutes late with 33813 ! There was no sign of the 12.05 or 12.35 from Peterborough and the next eastbound service came through after 2 hours 5 minutes at  14.56, this being the 13.05 ex Peterborough with 33812 running 51 late - it had only been 16 minutes late going to Peterborough so the traffic congestion had seen it lose a further 35 minutes en route.


Matthew Holland kindly sent these pictures of 33818 departing from Lowestoft on the morning of September 1st. Note the trio of former X1 Geminis in the bus station and (below) the lengthy destination information.

Finally Cameron Robinson was having some fun with 37562 yesterday (12th) when it was being used in connection with the Reload Festival on a Service no.100 from Norwich Thorpe railway station. Something makes me think the blinds may have been tampered with !

11/08/2015

Tuesday 11th August 2015 ~ Still Going

This blog I mean - well just about ! Troubled times for the X1 since my last report. Firstly back on 22nd July, 33811 was involved in a collision with a lorry on Wisbech Horsefair roundabout whilst departing as the 14.35 to Norwich. Damage sustained meant that 33811 had to be taken out of service  This incident unfortunately made the local press : http://www.wisbechstandard.co.uk/news/bus_driver_s_alleged_lack_of_concern_after_wisbech_crash_sparks_complaints_1_4176162
This happened the day after 33807 had experienced an altercation with a coach resulting in some damage to the rear of the bus. Plans to send 33807 away for repairs were put on hold to allow 33811 to take precedence and 33807 patched up continued in service.
From an operating point of view, this caused problems but fortunately 33808 was back out on the road on Friday 24th after extensive repairs. The 24th was a day of heavy rain and quite appaling road conditions for July, indeed it was the first Friday for several months where the service fell apart on the western section due to huge traffic problems in King's Lynn and congestion along the route.
The 13.24 Wisbech - Peterborough (33810) departed 18 late but came back from Peterborough exactly 30 late. The following service ran 20 minutes late from Peterborough and arrived in Wisbech at 15.50, there was then a gap before the next bus (33809) passed me at 16.36, this being the 16.03 arrival running over 30 late.  Traffic paralysis in King's Lynn was worse though and the same service which had arrived inbound at the South Gates about 25 late proceeded to lose a further 35 minutes simply running to the bus station and back to the South Gates !! The following service with 33817 caught up at Narborough and all passengers transferred to this bus to allow 33809 to go light to Norwich to make up time, In the event 33817 departed Norwich at 19.12 as the 18.40 to Peterborough. The fun was not yet over however, as 33817 was in trouble at Wisbech with an engineer having to be called. Eventual arrival at Peterborough with replacement bus 33814 was about 45 late at 22.20 and to make matters worse about fifteen or so very bedraggled passengers were then told that the bus had to go empty back to King's Lynn and would not operate as the 21.40, leaving them in the damp to catch the last bus at 23.30. Expecting one of my lodgers off the 21.40, far from amused, I drove to Peterborough to collect him and ended up taking a further two people and dropping them at Wisbech bus station on a foul night. I am told by 'First' that the matter is under investigation.
The new King's Lynn Transport Interchange as the revamped bus station has been christened opened on August 4th. Two days later 33811 returned to King's Lynn after repairs and 33807 at last went the other way to Full Circle for attention. 33816 had an examination by Alexander Dennis last week after continuous reports of sluggish acceleration and running.
A slight diversion to the X1 in Wisbech is in operation during August. Yet another closure of Nene Quay eastbound means Norwich bound buses are once again using Weasenham Lane, That said , on Monday 10th at least one service was seen negotiating the sharp angle onto Town Bridge and through the Old Market to regain the usual route after Freedom Bridge. Friday 7th was another day of disruption with the A47 closed at Middleton after an accident for much of the morning entailing X1 diversions via the A10 and Stradsett to reach Swaffham.
My apologies to Malcolm and my friends in the East for not keeping up with their reports, I hope to rectify this before long.
Finally news that , as one might expect, the first of the Enviro 400s has now passed the 200,000 miles mark. 33806 was the first to achieve this with 33812 and 33811 very close behind. Following its prolonged lay off, the lowest mileage example in the King's Lynn fleet is now 33808 which has run just over 172,000 miles.



21/07/2015

Tuesday 21st July 2015 ~ Disruption

So far it has been an eventful week. Yesterday (Monday) a fatal accident between Thorney bypass and Guyhirn called for full closure of the A47 at this point between 06.30 & 15.00 and early morning services were forced to divert via Whittlesey.
The first return service from Peterborough was seen at Walsoken running 44 minutes late with 33814 and not far behind was K2 seen leaving Wisbech bus station 21 late with 33803. 33806 came past me on K3 running 31 late and while I didn't see K4, K5 which is due past me at Wisbech at 09.50 turned up at 11.19, 89 minutes late. Clearly at this point a decision had to be made. The alternative route was completely congested and a number of buses were stranded in the affected area. As a consequence it was decided to terminate westbound services at Wisbech where they laid over until their due departure eastbound. This situation prevailed until the 15.24 departure (K6) which was the first bus able to continue onwards to Peterborough.
During the day buses stabled in Wisbech bus station resulting in some unusual photo opportunities as seen below
Passengers prepare to board the first through service to Peterborough at 15.24



Four Enviro 400s at Wisbech on Monday afternoon. 
33805 is ready to depart on the 15.24 Wisbech - Peterborough while 33806 and 33809 await their departure times for Norwich. Nice to get three different adverts too !

Tuesday was relatively incident free, but the 06.45 King's Lynn - Norwich failed at Dereham and later the 12.54 Wisbech - Peterborough failed to run. Its vehicle 33805 left Wisbech at 13.52 westbound ' not in service' presumably running empty to Thorney before taking up the return working.

19/07/2015

Sunday 19th July 2015 ~ Update

The long process of transforming my house continues, so another brief update on a few things. Enviro 33808 remains out of service at Full Circle for body repairs, although it is expected back at King's Lynn this week. Last week 33811 required its MOT so Lowestoft loaned 33824 to King's Lynn for a few days. I travelled back from Peterborough on it on Thursday evening and this has to be the most uncomfortable trip on an Enviro I've had. The rattling internally was annoying and the engine was making a high pitched whistle, as well as the suspension seeming worn out. On a minor note the upstairs information screens on both buses I travelled on were out of order and the wi-fi was very hit and miss. Bit of a disappointment really. Nevertheless both trips were on time which was a credit to the drivers,
It looks as if consideration is being given to recasting the evening X1 timetable on the western section. The likelihood is that services from King's Lynn to Peterborough and Norwich will revert to an hourly interval pattern with the final journeys of the day being withdrawn. Loadings are poor on these late services and it also means two very late arrivals at King's Lynn at just before 01.00.
37573 on a sunny Saturday July 18th is seen at Hopton working the 12.45 Norwich - Lowestoft.
Photo copyright : Russell Young.

23/06/2015

Tuesday 23rd June 2015 ~ Update

Not a huge amount to report which is just as well while my house refurbishment continues. Main news involves the absence of 33808. This bus was involved in an accident at Scarning on Saturday May 30th  when an oncoming car is believed to have veered into the path of the bus. Damage to 33808 was considerable but nobody on board was injured thankfully. 33808 is currently at Full Circle undergoing major repairs as a result. A diversion to the X1 route in Thorney is currently seeing services use the Thorney Bypass and Station Road rather than Wisbech Road with temporary stops in situ.
Next update when time permits and my apologies for the extra brief update.

28/05/2015

Wednesday 27th May 2015 ~ The £150 Million Specials

Photo copyright : Richard Tucker
With Norwich City emerging victorious in the Championship play off final at Wembley on Monday, NCFC fans like myself can look forward to a return to Premier League action in August. I have to confess to not being a fan of the play-off format, probably mainly because of memories of the trip I made to Cardiff several years back when Birmingham City beat the Canaries - a result that pleased at least one X1 driver I know, but deflated me.
For the Cardiff game, the almost brand new Paragon coaches took a share in transporting fans to the match, whereas in 2015 a handful of ex X1 Geminis plus X1 Enviros 33803/4/19-24 were among somewhere in excess of 120 vehicles used to take fans to Wembley. Here then are a few pictures sent in by blog readers.



33803 gets a proud moment as she is prepared at King's Lynn for the Wembley trip. Photo : Wayne Sheppard


















































33803 again with another variation on the blinds, this time photographed by blog reader Brian Coombes

















Lowestoft allocated 33821 at Wembley Stadium photographed by Zak Nelson


Another one from Zak with 33821 and friend at Wembley.


Kieran Smith sent in this one of 33804 & 33803 on special duties


King's Lynn drivers Matthew Jackson, Karen Forshaw and Kevin Boulter posing with 33804. Photo by Richard Tucker.

Thanks to all who supplied pictures of the momentous occasion, next blog update when I can manage it.

24/05/2015

Saturday 23rd May 2015 ~ A Few Pictures

The work on my house is continuing, so still chaos at home. Thought we ought to have a few pictures though, just to remind you all what the Enviros look like !

Looking back through my 'inbox' I found a few things that I'd failed to include so here goes :
33817 was parked in a rather unusual position when photographed by Cameron Robinson back on 28th March

Grahame Bessey was in Dereham on May 2nd and managed to spot and photograph three X1 services bearing differing destinations. 33807 shown here had Wisbech on the blinds and was carrying the latest advertising campaign for BT.
33812 was heading a westbound service destination King's Lynn. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey

33814 was seen on an eastbound service with the rather bizarre advert for the Australian breakfast drink 'Up & Go'. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey
Being such a lengthy route, albeit now cut into smaller sections, the number of diversionary routes used by the X1 at times of roadworks and traffic incidents are many and varied. One of my correspondents reports two such incidents on the same day, Firstly on April 22nd, at about 1300 for a few hours, outbound from Norwich (to Peterborough) there was a closure of the A47 between the A11 & B1108 junctions. Buses were diverted after the Newmarket Road stop, via the Ring Road and B1108. Later that evening a totally unadvertised closure of the A47 at Thorney for roadworks had the 2020 & 21.40 services from Peterborough caught at Thorney, then having to use the B1040 road to Whittlesey before continuing on via Goosetree and Rings End to join the A47 at Guyhirn.

About a year or so ago we reported the use by Emblings of Guyhirn of ex Eastern Counties X94 / X1 coach R841DVF (20141) on the Wisbech to March service, well since then two more old X1 faithfuls have returned to the area, firstly Lynx of King's Lynn have acquired P330RVG (20120) :

20120 captured by Andy Gibbs near Downham Market Academy on a service to Southery on March 27th

Then, this week I spotted (at a distance) a rather smart B10M in buff livery on what appeared to be a schools contract to the Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech, I took a distant photograph of it and was amazed to find it was N617APU (20117) now under the auspices of Fowler's of  Holbeach Drove :
20117 back in Wisbech !

This all goes to prove, you can't keep a good bus (or in this case coach) down. I've always had a soft spot for 20120 incidentally, for while being a bit unreliable when with 'First', it was the coach on my first ever X1 journey with Karen F at the wheel many years ago, It also happens to be the subject of the second ever photo on this blog back in July 2008 !

More news on events at the Lowestoft end next time plus an Enviro update.
33816 passing Walpole Highway today (23rd May) working the 09.20 ex Norwich, 11.05 ex King's Lynn to Peterborough.