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Tuesday 15th April 2014 ~ Normality Resumes

Well I'm now beginning to catch up with things after my holiday. Huge thanks to all who kept me informed of goings on in my absence, you know who you are !
It would be fair to say that in the intervening period between the last posting and this, the most notable event took place today. Having arrived late last week, for a suspension fault to be rectified at King's Lynn, Enviro 33423 saw its first run to Peterborough sporting the First Great Yarmouth colours today. 33813 working the 07.45 Lowestoft - Peterborough (L12-XL18) was required at Vancouver Avenue for attention and 33423 took over briefly for the Peterborough leg, before 33813 resumed its turn.
Here she is with Gareth at the wheel passing near my work premises in Wisbech :

Despite there being plenty of prophets of doom regarding the new fleet, they seem to be coping well with the intensive work schedule given to them and this surely must reflect on the care given to them by Richard Tucker and his engineering team. Various issues have cropped up revolving around issues as diverse as sourcing replacement seats and malfunctioning air cooling systems, but none of these have been sufficiently serious to disrupt the service. The only reason 33423 appeared today was because of servicing commitments combined with the absence of 33809 which had only just returned from bodywork repairs at Full Circle following an incident on 2nd April.
 I had an email from one of my correspondents saying that he had seen less than flattering reports in some bus blogs about the comfort and overall experience of travelling on the X1 Enviros. He says "I trust you more to give a balanced account if they are in trouble. Each time I use them I find no cause for complaint ". Well it would seem that the majority of X1 passengers I have spoken to agree with this, although Victor Meldrew did contact me during my holiday to say he was sitting near a particularly rattly part of 33814 last Thursday, but let's face it, he will moan about anything ! I hasten to add that I base my observations on a sample of the general public, rather than bus enthusiasts. Certainly the loadings on the western part of the route have increased dramatically since the Enviros arrived. Incidentally, several of the fleet have now exceeded the 60,000 mile mark in just 7 months
First themselves have cause to celebrate and Lucy Wright says "The results of a national bus passenger survey published by independent watchdog, Passenger Focus, have revealed that First’s customers in Norfolk have seen an increase in satisfaction.
89% of First’s customers in Norfolk said that they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘fairly satisfied’ with the service in the county – a 2% increase since 2011. Passenger Focus’ National Bus Survey is considered the bus industry’s definitive gauge of passenger satisfaction. The survey was carried out between 8 September and 1 December 2013. The survey also noted improvements in punctuality, the cleanliness and appearance of the buses and drivers’ attitudes.
Managing Director of First Eastern Counties, David Squire, said: “We are thrilled with our score which reflects the hard work and commitment of all my colleagues. We’ve got excellent teams in place at our depots who are improving our services and helping to encourage more people to travel with First.”
Laurie Egan, Norfolk County Council's Travel Network Manager added; "We work very closely with bus operators in Norfolk and these are encouraging results which show that initiatives like our Quality Bus Partnership is helping them deliver higher quality, more reliable services which their passengers want. A restructure within First took place in 2013 which gave greater autonomy to the local teams, which is helping the company deliver better services for customers and contributing to the improved Passenger Focus score"
Well nothing like blowing your own trumpet is there, but you have to admit it is impressive. Posing for the camera here are some familiar faces, but being contrary, I'm more interested in what that is behind the Gemini !!

It is also good to report that the timetable has been largely adhered to. Main delays can be attributed to congestion in Wisbech while town bridge is closed and sometimes late afternoon services can suffer because of this. The road is due to reopen sometime next month. Sunday afternoon last saw X1 services being diverted via the A17 and Tilney All Saints following the well publicised accident where a child fell from a private operators moving coach near the Shoreboat roundabout. 
Enviro 33821 has now been in traffic every day since March 7th, but 33820 was stopped today with an exhaust problem. 33823 had a problem with its destination screen last week as seen here in these pictures from John Abbott taken in Peterborough last Wednesday.

                                                    Photos copyright : John Abbott

Brian Coombes wrote to me to say he and his colleague Stuart Ling provide a very important service delivering beer across our region and consequently have regular meetings with the X1. Here's Stuart in his van at Thickthorn with an Enviro !

and here's another one taken on a rather inhospitable day in February in Acle .....

Glad you enjoy following the blog guys and once again my apologies for the infrequent updates of late. I hope to get back to more regular entries from now on.
Finally this time, a picture sent in by Des Speed who says "Thought you'd like this one" :
Some of the former X1 stalwarts at Caister Road garage. Photo : Des Speed


Thursday 3rd April delayed blog ! ~ The Usual Business

Apologies for the long delay in producing another blog, a delay partly because I have been excessively busy (as usual at this time of year) and also because of the lack of important events.
I am about to go on a weeks holiday, so the next entry will probably be around 13th April. MOTs are continuing on the Enviros with 33805/6 having been tested. A couple of slight collisions have resulted in damage to 33816 which was taken off Y13-XL19 on 26th March and did not return to service until 31st. Today (2nd April), 33809 was in a spot of bother whilst working Y9-XL15 and was retired early to be replaced by 33813. The passenger side panels sustained damage and it is due to visit Full Circle for repair tomorrow, with 33806 coming back fixed from the same malady.
Probably the most notable event in the period under review came on 30th March when Yarmouth sent out 33808 to Norwich in the evening for rail replacement work !


Wednesday 19th March 2014 ~ Running with the X1

33807 departing from Norwich as the 10.00 service to Peterborough on Sunday 16th. Photo copyright : Sam Larke
The Enviro 400s continue their domination of the X1 in a quiet manner - so quiet in fact that Bruce reckons they creep up behind him when he is cutting the hedge and he keeps missing the numbers - too busy waving at the drivers I suspect !
33813 which had a problem with a roof pod has been back on the road since last Tuesday (11th) and 33804 became the second of the fleet to receive an MOT on 14th being noted back in service the following day. The only bus in difficulties has been 33809 which back on Friday 7th overheated due to a hydraulic oil leak. It then spent five days off road for remedial work before returning to traffic on Thursday 13th.
33812 is the months star performer having worked on every day between February 24th and today (March 19th). It has accumulated almost 54,000 miles to date, something already achieved by 33811.
Punctuality has been very good with a blip on Friday 14th after an rta on the Acle Straight delayed some services by up to 20 minutes.
Sunday saw four of the occupants of  King's Lynn garage with windscreen fractures, here's another photographed by Jamie Skinner on Monday 10th, note the crack creeping up from the bottom of the screen, Jamie does however mention the cheery driver. 

Faulty LED displays and confusing announcements have also been reported, but this would seem to be linked to patchy GPS coverage at certain points in the route. 
Sam Larke was out with his camera in Norwich on Sunday - the second Sunday in a row where temperatures have soared and here are some more of his pictures taken that day :
For the second consecutive year, X1 vehicles are carrying a variety of adverts for services from Norwich Airport, probably a good idea as Easyjet are currently trying to make Norfolk travellers aware that Stansted is (allegedly)  not that far away ! 
Here we have 33821 arriving at Norwich on the 08.27 King's Lynn - Lowestoft on Sunday. Photo : Sam Larke

The only X1 not reported to me on Sunday was this one and Sam photographed it twice  ! 33821 departs Norwich eastbound in the fine Spring sunshine. Photo : Sam Larke

This coming Friday (21st) is Sport Relief day and in association with this, First Eastern will have staff running/cycling the X1 route for this worthy cause. Here's the link if you'd like to help them reach their target :

Thanks to all my regular correspondents, particularly Malcolm in Lowestoft for his comprehensive reports. The regular team are a bit thin on the ground now, with Bruce stuck behind the hedge, Des just back from sunbathing in Spain and Cheryl having moved house to near Whittlesea, plus Peter and Angela living it up in the USA again !! Hope to see you all again soon.

A sparkling 33823 arrives in Norwich working Sunday's 08.54 Wisbech - Lowestoft. Photo : Sam Larke


Sunday 9th March 2014 ~ Summer's Here (?)

Well I guess it must be, today everyone seems to have shed their Winter clothes and we are basking in temperatures of almost 20'c . It's sort of like the winter we never had, the X1 being unimpeded by icy roads and snow unlike previous years. Even the now famous crop of sugar beet on the site masthead has been moved today after many weeks when it was too wet to work.
So what's been going on in the last couple of weeks ? As you'd expect from the lack of an update, the answer is very little. Some of the Enviros have now reached the 50,000 mile mark with little untoward to report. Noticeable by its absence recently though has been 33813 which has been sidelined with an air conditioning problem. It has been out of service waiting a new roof panel after rectfication and has not worked since February 25th. Fortunately the other Enviros seem to have been in good health and the only other absentee was 33803 which is the first of the new vehicles to undergo MOT. This kept it off the road between 22nd February and 4th March. Although the new buses are less than six months old, the MOT programme has to be staggered in order to avoid all the fleet being due simultaneously.

Reports elsewhere of the final X1 movements of Paragon coaches 20514/5 seem to have been a bit premature, Jamie Skinner says both were still in action on shorts on February 24th and sent these pictures of 20515 :

Photos by kind permission of Jamie Skinner.

Peter has been in touch regularly lately and has had good X1 journeys apart from one where the upper deck was ice cold for some reason. He adds "I see the mindless yobbery have already been at work " :

It is difficult to imagine what small satisfaction the person who did this achieved for their vandalism. On a similar note, there was an incident on the evening of March 1st when some clowning got out of hand on the upper deck of 33810 and a youth ended up inadvertently headbutting the front screen, shattering the glass. The police escorted the culprits away on arrival at Yarmouth.

33811 adds to its already considerable mileage on Sunday 2nd March working the 14.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft.

With little happening on the route, talk of forthcoming changes are as rife as ever. One school of thought is that, in an effort to renew the X1s express image, certain services may run fast over the eastern section, missing out such places as Hockering, while at the western end of the route, some buses could run directly from Lynn to Wisbech then Peterborough avoiding the villages and Thorney. Whether this would work is open to debate. If the plan does come to fruition, it would almost certainly knock on the head the possibility of diverting services via Wisbech St. Mary.
One definite change that will be taking place is that the Vancouver Avenue garage at King's Lynn, which has been home to First, formerly Eastern Counties and its predecessors since around 1930 will be vacated sometime in the next two years, as that is when the lease on the building expires. The site is earmarked for a new road which is planned,  to avoid vehicles having to negotiate the narrow arch through the historic South Gates. What would happen then is anyone's guess ? Either a new purpose built facility would have to be found, or maybe, as in other parts of the country where it has worked successfully, a deal might be struck with Stagecoach (Norfolk Green) to outsource the cleaning and maintenance. As it is, Norfolk Green themselves are allegedly also looking for new, larger premises.

On the route, there was a rare sight at lunchtime on Wednesday 26th when 33812 was viewed taking the Tilney and Wisbech bypases en route to Peterborough on K15-XL02, running approximately 25 minutes late. The service returned from Peterborough on time. An accident in thick fog in the Thorney area early on Saturday March 1st also saw some services returning eastbound down the same bypass to make up time.
There have been a number of A47 incidents involving roadworks and minor accidents, but none of this has badly affected the X1 timetable.
Much activity at King's Lynn bus station as passengers alight from 33809 which will form the 09.10 departure to Peterborough. 3/3/14


Sunday 23rd February 2014 ~ Late Blog

33822 in some February sunshine seen departing Norwich Bus Station at 12.50 on Saturday 22nd working K6-XL12 09.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft . Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey
That shows you should never announce when the next update is going to be. Never mind, here we are and once again things are largely running smoothly.
I had a run out on the X1 on Valentines Day, taking K5-XL11 07.37 King's Lynn - Peterborough. I joined 33813 at Wisbech and we left nearly 4 minutes late. The morning peak traffic seemed particularly heavy and slow. By the time we left Thorney our arrears had increased to 9 minutes. Thanks to a large slice of recovery time however, our arrival at Peterborough bus station via the Passport Office route was just one minute late at 09.01. There being no passengers to join (very unusually) this allowed for a quick chat with our driver, Kevin B. We were on time at the rail station at 09.09. There was one unusual vehicle swap in the evening when 33822 had to be removed from L8-XL14 and 33817 which had arrived in King's Lynn at 20.49 on L12-XL18 for garaging was cleaned and refuelled to work the 21.38 to Lowestoft. A collapsed manhole at Necton caused some delays today and then an accident in the evening saw diversions due to an accident on the A47 between Swaffham and Lynn.
33821 arrives in Norwich working K4 08.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft. Saturday 22nd February .    
Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
Some smashing pictures from Grahame this week - here is low mileage 33819 getting away from Norwich on the 11.30 Lowestoft - Peterborough (K19-XL06) 22/2/14
Steve Foster with 33820 departing Norwich at 11.30 westbound on Saturday 22nd February.
 Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

Being in Scotland over the weekend 15/16 February, I had to rely on my contacts to view the service. I am very grateful that 100% of services were viewed and reported and many thanks to all concerned for their assistance. There were no reported vehicle swaps, but for a time on Saturday fallen trees were preventing Toftwood, Little Fransham and Necton being served. Thanks to Kieran Smith for the gen. On Monday services were delayed again by roadworks at King's Lynn South Gates roundabout, one lane being coned off. Queues were back to Hardwick for a time.
What we had before ! 37564 looking very smart in its new Lowestoft livery on the X2. 22/2/14.
Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey, 

My return trip also featured the X1 and I was pleased to see Ray Woodhouse and 33808 turn up bang on time at 21.18 on what was a pretty wild wet Monday evening. Departing at 21.19 and leaving Peterborough via Bishop's Road we passed through Eye Green in exactly eleven minutes and this was followed by a fine flail down the deserted A47 to Thorney. Surely we must be on time now ? No ! In fact we were still just over a minute late. Thorney Toll was passed 3 minutes late and we were back to being just over a minute down at Guyhirn. Arrival in Wisbech was on time to the second. Progress beyond here to Walpole Highway was at a more sedate pace thanks to a less demanding schedule and I was dropped off - the only passenger left on board - spot on time. Tuesday saw a couple of late arrivals in Lowestoft reports Malcolm, 33804 was 8 late in on K19 which does the 11.30 to Peterborough  and later 33812 on L8 due at 15.12  came in 12 late. Temporary lights at East Winch Carpenters Arms were more than likely the cause.
On the Dereham diversion (see below),  33813 heads for Peterborough on Wednesday 19th February.
Photo copyright : Andy's Bus Blog.

A rare failure in traffic occurred on Wednesday 19th, 33824 was in trouble at Wisbech at 12.20 with loss of drive. 33818 replaced it to work the 14.31 King's Lynn to Lowestoft. Earlier 33824 had left Great Yarmouth via the bypass to reach the Acle Straight because of an accident near Asda.
33807 was sidelined with power loss for a couple of  days , but was back on Wednesday 19th. Punctuality has been very good and observations from Terrington St. John on Saturday saw King's Lynn bound services passing at 13.39 RT, 14.09 RT, 14.49 RT and 15.18 one minute early. Going west services were seen at 13.39 RT, 14.12 -3, 14.41 -2 & 15.11 -2, so commendable for a long distance route. Sunday night saw an accident at Brundall heavily delay the 17.30 Lowestoft - King's Lynn, due to arrive at 20.40 it rolled in around 22.00. The driver is booked to take the 21.59 to Peterborough after an hours break, but instead Controller David Fields took the last bus westbound.
The Dereham Diversion 2. The 11.00 from Lowestoft  with 33816 on Wednesday 19th photographed by David Bell. 

Part of Dereham Market Place has been closed for gas main work and the disruption which started on Monday is due to last six weeks. X1 services eastbound now call at the stop on the Hollywood Cinema side of the Market Place, while westbound services use Cowper Road instead.
The Dereham Diversion 3. 33812 working Y11 - XL17 12.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft.
Photo copyright : Andy's Bus Blog

Jamie Skinner reports 20514 still operating X1 shorts on Friday 21st and over on the X2 at the start of the week, Yarmouth's 37578 was out, presumably deputising for 37570 which is due an MOT around now, Michael Bryant and Malcolm Hicks both reporting sightings.
33808 about to exit Norwich Bus Station on Saturday 22nd. This was the 11.00 departure to Peterborough (K15-XL02)
Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

Finally I must mention King's Lynn driver Bernie Mactavish who is making a speedy recovery from a heart attack, thanks to the prompt actions of Controller, David Fields, Bernie felt ill at work on December 28th and David realising he was having the attack rushed him to the QE Hospital, an action which saved Bernie's life. Congratulations to David on receiving national recognition for his actions and to Bernie on his recovery .
For the EDP article , check out this link

Hero of the hour David Fields (left) with a recovering Bernie Mactavish. Photo copyright : Ian Burt / EDP.


Thursday 13th February 2014 ~ Lazy Blogger

Well not really, on the contrary I have been extremely busy. Fortunately the X1 seems to be behaving quite well, so this gives me an easy time from the blogging point of view. Here is a summary of recent events :
Photographed in Priory Plain, Gorleston. Zak Nelson captured 33423 working an X1 short on Monday 3rd.

Monday 3rd February. Not at work today so didn't see much. No swaps with 33814/5 off the road for services and 33820 spare. 33821 working L8-XL14 had a problem with its VIX display - it froze at 14.12 hrs displaying next stop Acle, The Street and remained that way until it finished the turn. Temporary Norwich bus station closure again this evening.

Tuesday 4th February. Malcolm reports 34187 making a rare appearance in Lowestoft on the 10.40 service 1a to Martham. 33813's mileage tonight was 34187 - spooky or what ? Now that Y13-XL19 begins and finishes at Yarmouth, the turn often changes vehicles at King's Lynn for maintenance purposes. Today 33808 was replaced by freshly serviced 33817.

Wednesday 5th February. A quiet day, nothing to report !!!
33423 before working the 14.05 Yarmouth - Norwich on Thursday (see below). Photo copyright : Sheldon Rees.

Thursday 6th February. 33809 had a tacho fault today, so stayed off the road . There was a nice story on the X1 twitter feed about a chap who had lost his wallet on the bus and it had turned up intact at King's Lynn garage. Yarmouth's 33423 had its destination re-programmed to cover X1 shorts today as seen here :

Friday 7th February, 33822/3/4 were all due safety services today and during inspection, 33822 was diagnosed with a line sensor fault. A few services around 09.00 travelled via Wisbech St. Mary due to an accident on the A47. Villagers here have now engaged the services of MP Steven Barclay in their attempts to get the X1 diverted this way permanently. How about a compromise, with one journey an hour going that route ? Mind you, there are some very tight bends on Barton Road and overall the route is unsuitable I would say.

Saturday 8th February. Timekeeping was once again very good today. Maximum lateness through Wisbech was just 7 minutes.
It's that bus again ! Nice one in the sunshine at Acle on Sunday. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

Sunday 9th February. 33814 suffered a 'door collapse' tonight and had to be replaced by 33820 at King's Lynn. 33809 remained off the road with its tacho problem, as did 33822 with the line sensor problem.

Monday 10th February. An accident in the morning rush on the Pullover Roundabout resulted in delays to the 08.40 & 09.10 King's Lynn - Peterborough. The 09.40 with 33816 was on time however. Coach 20515 popped up in Lowestoft today 'not in service'.

Tuesday 11th February. Double deckers on the Lowestoft 101 town service are a daily sight at the moment, but the sight of Yarmouth's 37575 today was very unusual. 33822 was back in service today on K4-XL10. 33818 had an Almex ticket machine fault tonight and 33810 replaced it on the 21.38 Lynn - Lowestoft.

Wednesday 12th February. 37575 found itself on the X2 today, the first time a Yarmouth liveried example has appeared to date. Very high winds brought power cables down onto the A47 near Thorney Toll this afternoon and some services were diverted via Whittlesea,. K15 12.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough was on time with 33824, but the 14.15 return working was seen by Bruce running 42 late as K16. K16 itself didn't go all the way through to Peterborough and came back as K15 running 17 late on those timings. The road was cleared again by 15.50. 33809 had its tacho fault sorted today.

Thursday 13th February : 33808/11/12/19/21 have all been out now every day since the last blog. 33812 has been on the road daily since January 20th.  Temporary route diversions at Thickthorn and in Dereham are scheduled for Monday.

Following the feature on the old rail link coaches in the last blog, Andy James has been in touch to say he also did a similar thing some time ago - the buses seem the same but the pictures are different, here's the link

Some pictures taken by Des Speed for us now. 33808 is seen in Great Yarmouth garage on February 2nd.
Former X1 Geminis in Caister Road garage sporting their new livery.
Here's one for Bruce : 34108 still hanging on
Finally congratulations to friends of the blog Chris Speed and Mark Reynolds for their recent promotions within First. I am away in Scotland for a few days now, so any sightings welcome at the usual address. Next blog on Friday 21st.


Sunday February 2nd 2014 ~ All Quiet on the X1 Front

Well I suppose that is good news for 'First' but not so good for writing a blog ! Enviro 33820 has, as expected, gone to Full Circle for body repairs while ENBB and NBP both report the repainting (at last) of 33423, so the likelihood of it seeing further X1 use has diminished somewhat. 
The X1 has been running very well with no problems with punctuality and no failures in service either. 33810 has been undergoing repairs for most of the week and only managed to appear in service on Monday, Tuesday, Friday  and today (Sunday).
This lull in proceedings would seem a good time to start our look at vehicles which have traversed the X1 route in the past.
We begin with a look at the rail link coach service which I think began in about 1982. Peter says "Do you recognise this fine looking vehicle ? This was (I think) the original Rail Link service operated by Eastern Counties on behalf of BR.   Originally there were just 4 return trips a day from Kings Lynn to Peterborough.   When Birds took over they increased it to 6, with the first starting at Hunstanton, and the last one from Peterborough going through to Hunny". 
Photo courtesy of Mike Hodge

Here is another photo taken in around 1984 of another rail link coach, now with Hunstanton added to the route branding

Photo Courtesy John Law. You can find over 70,000 pictures, mainly of transport related subjects at John's Flickr site :

Finally tonight a slightly later addition to the fleet and in a revised livery and with Wisbech dropped from its branding.. Photo courtesy of Mark Kirk. Here is a link to his UK Transport website :
If any of you can add any more detail about the Rail Link service, when it started/finished or the vehicles used or if you have photos I could include etc etc, please contact me and we will do an update.


Friday 24th January 2014 ~ Vox Pops and a Mug Shot

33819 rests at King's Lynn Vancouver Avenue garage on Sunday 19th January
In the last blog entry, which was over a week ago and for that I apologise, the opinions of drivers on the new buses was being sought by Steve. I had a chance this week to speak to a couple of X1 drivers about their new steeds and what they thought of them. 
Driver 'A' as we will call him, thinks the public are still very much in love with the new fleet and the compliments continue to be heard on a daily basis. His main gripe was a minor one, that to get his feet warm, the cab heater is effective, but the air rises and makes it unbearably hot, so he then has to have the cab window open in all weathers. He also said the new buses are lighter and therefore more difficult to control on a windy day, notably on the Acle Straight. Apparently a few drivers have experienced problems with the doors losing parts or becoming partially inoperable. 
Driver 'B' had a lot more to say, he concurred with the heating problem and said some buses were from his point of view to be avoided if possible. 
33803 came in for some very harsh criticism and was called something I certainly couldn't write here ! 33816 is also a black sheep it would seem, with a loud turbo. In fact Driver 'B' predicts long term problems with starter motors and turbos on the Enviros. The strain put on components by shutting the engine off at key points like Norwich, Lynn and Peterborough and then letting it all start up again is thought to be a major cause. He also says that some buses have a sort of blind spot where acceleration momentarily stalls and then comes back. Reversing on some buses is an art in itself and he says it is quite common to spend a minute or so waiting for it to engage.
 Oh Dear ! I don't think I should have started this !

Zak Nelson kindly sent this picture of 33423 back at work off Great Yarmouth following its MOT. It was working the 881 contract from East Norfolk Sixth Form College to Carlton Colville. Note the paper route identity as the screens were not programmed.

Anyway, to the latest goings on in A47 land. Loan white liveried Enviro no. 33423 was last used on the Peterborough route on Wednesday 15th and was hastily despatched back to Yarmouth for an MOT. Fortunately on Monday 20th, 33809 at last returned from bodyside repairs at Full Circle workshops. After a safety service , it re-entered traffic on 21st. 
Following on from the comments made by Driver 'B' above, 33805 was stopped on Saturday requiring a new starter motor and this meant it didn't reappear until Wednesday 22nd when it worked K5-XL11. A few other niggly failures have occurred. On Saturday 33824 had to be taken off Y7-XL13 with engine derate and 33815 replaced it, then in the afternoon, 33818 on K2-XL08 suffered an electrical fault and a rejuvenated 33824 took the turn forward.
 33818 misbehaved again on Tuesday 21st when it failed at Yarmouth working L10-XL16 06.50 ex Lowestoft. 33809 back from repairs took over the turn, 33818 had gone into derate and needed a fuel filter - something it would have received later that day anyway, as it was due for servicing. These glitches apart, overall the Enviros seem to be doing a good job.
 From Wednesday to Saturday last week, 33816 did turn K14-XL01 every day and combined with the rest of its work, this meant it covered exactly 3000 miles in seven working days, which is pretty impressive by anyone's standards.
Malcolm has kindly sent me his usual reports from Lowestoft. On Thursday 16th, decker 30900 was getting a run out on the 101 town service, however, next day it was back helping out the Geminis on the X2. 32208 seemed to be on loan to Lowestoft for a while and Michael Bryant saw it on an X2 on Thursday, while Malcolm even reports it on the 101 on Saturday. On Sunday Yarmouth's troublesome 37579 failed in Lowestoft bus station before working the 13.10 to Martham. A visit to Gasworks Road on Monday confirmed that Palatine 34156 has gone*, although 34155 was still in the yard withdrawn. Both 30886 & 30901 had a stint on the 101 on Wednesday 22nd.
* More on the fate of 34156 from Zak here :
Jamie Skinner says a Paragon was still on X1 shorts on Friday 17th and 32202 was entrusted with the 17.25 relief from Norwich to James Paget Hospital on Monday.
Roy on the ENBB ( reports via Ryan that 34108 is now back in service after all - never say die hey ? 33423 he says has now gone off for that long awaited repaint. 
33807 at Queensgate loading to form K16-XL03 14.45 to Lowestoft on Thursday 23rd January. Photo : Richard Thomas.

Punctuality has been very good on most days. Friday 17th saw just one late service, 33814 took the 15.58 Wisbech - Peterborough out 15 late. Tuesday 21st saw delays in the morning on eastbound services from Peterborough, but in the main these were around 10 minutes. Only K5-XL11 09.05 departure was badly delayed, being 22 late passing Bruce at Walpole. 
The worst day for some time was Wednesday 22nd. Again K5 09.05 from Peterborough was late, by 15 minutes into Wisbech. From lunchtime onwards, returning services from Peterborough began to take the route via Wisbech St. Mary to avoid A47 congestion caused by a broken down lorry on Guyhirn Bank. Later Bruce saw K17-XL04 with 33822 taking the Wisbech and then A47 bypasses travelling direct from Peterborough to King's Lynn approx 40 late. K18-XL05 was seen leaving Wisbech Horsefair with 33808 running 29 late with a double load of passengers. Peter texted to say "On 17.50 from Peterborough, queue on A47 so we have turned off near Bretts and gone via Murrow to get to Guyhirn and are now continuing via Wisbech St. Mary, terrible road this". He left Peterborough 5 late and was 25 late into Wisbech.
Thursday saw more diversions via Wisbech St. Mary from lunchtime onwards, 33815 on K14-XL01 was 33 late coming back into Wisbech.
 Friday afternoon again saw some services travelling via Wisbech St. Mary and an accident between the Pullover and Saddlebow roundabouts added to that Friday feeling, but despite this delays were pretty minimal.
33805 arriving at Peterborough rail station with K15-XL02 14.15 to Lowestoft.
 Photo : Richard Thomas.
and finally this week .........

Caroline, one of my nice ladies at work, had the bright idea of giving me a customised X1 mug for Christmas. Here is the mug shot with the real thing passing by in the background !


Wednesday 15th January 2014 ~ Mind the Doors Please !

33804 bang on schedule at Walpole Highway on Friday with the 09.00 ex Lowestoft.
By and large another uneventful week, but a few items to report. Last Thursday (9th) 33812 working Y11 07.15 from Lowestoft was delayed because of an accident near Acle and it left Wisbech for its destination still 21 minutes late. The following 07.45 ex Lowestoft was unaffected and ran on time with 33817, however, later, 33817 was in trouble in Gorleston when one side of the entrance doors became detached from its mounting. The bus was able to continue to Lowestoft for fitters attention and eventually got back to King's Lynn. 
33808 leaving Walton Highway and passing a remarkable crop of sugar beet (I've posted this for my friend Mark who always bellows about East Anglia's favourite crop). This was the 09.00 from Lowestoft on Thursday which was running 16 minutes late due to an earlier A47 delay.
33423 continues to be a useful standby and was turned out for K3-XL09 on Friday, Tuesday and today (Wednesday). Its MOT call up is imminent though and it remains to be seen whether 36180 or one of the former X1 Geminis will be loaned to King's Lynn when it goes. 33809 is still at  Full Circle for bodywork repairs and 33810 has been out of traffic for a new destination screen glass, it then worked K3 on Monday but was off the road again on Tuesday and today with an engine derate problem. 33805 & 33808 have both worked every day since the New Year services commenced.
Incidents of vandalism are thankfully rare, but on Tuesday evening K6 14.30 from Lowestoft had just left King's Lynn when a missile was thrown at a downstairs window on Nar OuseWay. 33817 was turned round and replaced at the garage by 33820.
Punctuality has been very good indeed. On Monday 33815 was noted arriving in Wisbech on K14-XL01 to form the 12.58 departure to Peterborough about 4 minutes early. Des adds "These new Enviros are great for making up lost time, cruising along at 60 mph with ease". 
This week  Roy reports an X1 diversion in Gorleston while the High Street is closed again for work on a water main, see picture below :
33806 passes Gorleston parish church on a diversion via Church Road (see above). Photo copyright : East Norfolk Bus Blog.
Thanks also to Roy for spotting a disabled 20515 being rescued at Great Yarmouth Market Gates after expiring while working an X1 short on Friday. Amongst services delayed by the rescue operation were the 15.17 departure to Peterborough. 
Photo copyright : East Norfolk Bus Blog
Our old Geminis are having mixed fortunes it would appear. On Sunday 37579 was noted arriving at Yarmouth depot on tow after failing with its engine cutting out and being unable to restart. Volvo are apparently trying to fix the problem. Meanwhile Malcolm reports Monday as being the first day he had seen the X2 entirely Gemini operated. Seen in use were 37563 - 37571 inclusive, in other words, all of the Lowestoft fleet. 
Steve says "You may be interested to read a recent post on my blog, which compares the Excel and Konect E400's. I'm afraid it's not to favourable towards the X1's, and I'd welcome your views. I'd also be interested to know what the drivers think of the E400's, and if they can see them lasting the distance ?"
Well we've seen what one of them thinks above, for Steve's critical report, have a look at :

There are also some interesting comments from Zak !


Wednesday January 8th 2014 ~ New Year Greetings

A little belated but here is the first blog of 2014. I haven't mentioned the loan Enviro from Yarmouth, 33423, for a while. In the event it has remained at King's Lynn much longer than anticipated, however, it is due to depart for Yarmouth in the next few days as it is due MOT there on 16th.
Two of the new Enviros have now sustained passenger side rear damage due to the limited clearances in Dereham Market Place. 33809 finally left Lynn for Full Circle on Monday and it looks like 33820 will be next. 33803/4/5/17/23/24 have all worked every day since 2nd, but 33810 had to have an adblue fault sorted on 2nd & 3rd and 33819 had an extended period off the road from 3rd to 6th and was due to have a wi-fi fault fixed. 33818 was due to be attended to by ADL staff today.
Less busy roads have meant the service has run pretty much to time every day so far. Early afternoon on Friday 3rd saw a few delays in and out of Lowestoft, 33821 was 17 late leaving on K4-XL10, K5-XL11 with 33812 then arrived and left on time before 33813 on K6-XL12 arrived 10 late, 33822 on Y7-XL13 was then 16 late and L8 came in 12 late with 33824. On Tuesday 7th 33813 was 18 late on L10 - XL16 06.50 Lowestoft - Peterborough but this was an isolated incident it would appear.
Malcolm noted the last of the Gemini repaints, 37571 in service on the X2 today. Grahame Bessey reports from Yarmouth that 34109 is now the last remaining W-CWX Volvo Olympian in traffic. The others (34108/10/11/12/13) are all listed in the reserve pool. Meanwhile 34186/7 remain in use on schools and contract work.


Tuesday December 31st 2013 ~ Goodbye 2013

A very brief blog tonight before I head out for the evening. Since Christmas the service has run well and today, traffic was so light that the 08.35 from Peterborough came past me 8 minutes early into Wisbech. It must have been about the only vehicle on the A47 ! As on Christmas Eve there will be an early shutdown this evening. Diagrams K15 and K17 which normally finish at King's Lynn will again depot at Yarmouth and Lowestoft respectively, while K6 and L8 finish at King's Lynn instead of Lowestoft and Yarmouth.
To finish off the year, a quick look at the current mileages of the new fleet :

Just leading the way despite being out of traffic pending bodywork repairs since 23rd is 33809 on 29028 miles. Behind it by just a few miles are 33807 & 33811. The remainder are then as follows :

27+ 33810, 33812, 33808, 33805, 33806

26+ 33818, 33815, 33804

25+ 33820, 33816

24+ 33821, 33814

23+ 33813

21+ 33824, 33822, 33823

19,134 : 33817
18,945 : 33803
16,826 : 33819

The new fleet have turned out to be pretty trouble free after the first couple of weeks and we will be keeping tabs on them and other X1 events throughout 2014.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the blog in 2013 and for all your nice emails, here's to a great 2014 for you all.


Happy Christmas !

With thanks to David Bell, Richard Algar and Des Speed


Tuesday December 24th 2013 ~ First Christmas for the Enviros

The build up to Christmas is always a busy time, but the X1 escaped relatively unscathed by the heavy traffic this year apart from on Monday 23rd.
Going back firstly though to Thursday last, which was quite a good day, although an accident at Honigham in the morning delayed Y11 07.15 from Lowestoft which left Wisbech westbound 22 late with 33817. I was away on Friday, but from some point K5-XL11 was taken over by 33423. I had an evening journey from King's Lynn to Walpole on Saturday with 33810 which was slightly late, but nicely warm and comfortable on the 19.53 to Peterborough.
Monday was the worst day by far due to excessive traffic. Peterborough was badly affected from the times the shops opened. L8-XL14 09.50 Wisbech to Peterborough with 33823 left just 4 late , but eventually returned 23 late. Y9-XL15 was 7 late with 33818 and 15 late coming back, but then things deteriorated. 33810 on L10-XL16 was 15 late to Peterborough and 46 late returning. Later L12-XL18 and Y13-XL19 both passed Bruce within 5 minutes of each other heading east at 14.50 & 14.55, 74 and 49 minutes late respectively. Not surprisingly there were numerous vehicle swaps at King's Lynn to maintain timings on the eastern section. 33809 was involved in a slight accident at Dereham in the afternoon which resulted in some small damage to the passenger side rear. This may mean a trip to Full Circle for repair. Up until this point, 33809 had been the highest mileage Enviro 400 having run just over 29,000 miles.
Today, Christmas Eve, 33423 appeared on L12-XL18 07.45 from Lowestoft and it seems it may have travelled east last night following the disruption, rather than having come on to the turn at Lynn this morning. Traffic levels today were light with no instances of late running noted.
37571 is now the only Gemini remaining at Full Circle for repainting and Malcolm noted 37565 at work on the X2 today.
Best wishes to you all for a happy and peaceful Christmas.


Wednesday December 18th 2013 ~ A Game of Chess

As I reported last night the Stagecoach buy out of Norfolk Green was officially confirmed around 7am this morning. It is all like a big game of chess really, I daresay 'First' probably knew when they allowed Norfolk Green to take the King's Lynn local and town services off their hands a couple of years back, that a future takeover would leave Stagecoach as the main contender. 
Runours had been rife for several months, firstly Go Ahead were said to have tabled an offer to enable them to expand their growing empire in the East, then 'First' were said to have offered £5m and now Stagecoach have jumped in with a bid allegedly in the region of £10m. Hopefully the X1 will remain with 'First', although the likelihood of a competing Stagecoach service would now seem inevitable.

Back on the route, the last week has passed off relatively well with just an odd A47 delay here and there. The leader in the mileage stakes for the Enviros is still 33809 and its already considerable tally was added to heavily last week when it did the 'long diagram' (K14-XL01) every day from Wednesday to Saturday. This stint alone would have amounted to another 1860 miles. 33809 has now completed 27,300 miles in traffic in under 3 months.
The 12th (Thursday last) was an interesting day for a number of reasons. Malcolm reports the following Lowestoft sightings : 33805 departing 17 late on the 09.30 to Peterborough (K15-XL02), 34155 on the 09.25 X2 from Norwich and coach 20515 on the 13.25 ex Norwich. Former X1 Gemini 37564 was noted for the first time and this worked the 15.15 X2 to Norwich. 
Over at King's Lynn, a driver shortage meant the 10.00 to Peterborough was cancelled and passengers had to wait for 33812 on Y11-XL17 , the 10.30 departure. At teatime, the 16.46 King's Lynn - Lowestoft didn't run for the same reason. 
Des reports an incident packed journey back eastbound : "I was driving the 17.25 South Gates to Yarmouth (K19-XL06). we had a full passenger loading following the cancellation of the 16.46 service. I then became aware of an RTA between Fair Green and Station Road at Middleton. A passenger phoned her husband to confirm the accident was not blocking the Station Road junction, so I turned round at the Fair Green turn and stopped in the layby before Hardwick to sort out passenger requirements. With the 16.46 not running there were several passengers for Middleton, East Winch and Narborough, so I diverted via the A149 and came into Middleton via Station Road. We were 49 late at East Winch and our Yarmouth arrival was at 20.19, 39 late.  I didn't pick up many passengers as I presume the bus behind diverted via A10 and leap frogged in front of me. As he was the 17.46 and the last Eastbound bus was at 16.11, he must have had a few passenger problems to put up with!!!"
Gosh and all that on Thursday 12th rather than Friday 13th !
 Friday itself was a calmer day and with few buses running late despite the heavy pre-Christmas traffic. Mind you, first thing the 07.30 from Peterborough, normally a banker for being on time was seen at Walsoken 14 late with 33807. Mid morning all was well until Y9-XL15 which passed me by with 33813 running 18 late. That was it though as regards delays until K3-XL09 16.20 from Lynn to Peterborough which 33803 operated running a similar 18 minutes late. At Lowestoft, Malcolm saw another new arrival on the X2, 37567 was working the 14.35 to Norwich. Heavy evening traffic resulted in the 13.30 Lowestoft - Peterborough arriving in King's Lynn 16 late and further congestion affected the 14.30 service which finally managed to get away from Lynn for Peterborough at 18.15, 25 minutes late. All this had been regained however, by the time King's Lynn was reached on the return.
37570 at Norwich with a Lowestoft bound X2 on Saturday. Unusually it is not sporting a T side advertisement, but it does have what appears to be a Christmas elf on the top front window ! Photo copyright : G Bessey
Taking advantage of the fine weather on Saturday, regular contributor Grahame Bessey has kindly sent us a gallery of pictures to brighten up the blog. He adds "very cold so it was off to The Bell for a couple of Pints of Woodfordes Bell Ringer to warm up, after a couple of hours with the camera!". Don't blame you Grahame, wish I'd been there to join you, rather than at work.
In glorious sunshine 33804 heads into Norwich bus station on Saturday working K5-XL11 09.05 from Peterborough. Note Mr. Claus is driving ! Photo : Grahame Bessey 

Another former X1 Gemini devoid of advertising but with a repositioned elf - he's now on a downstairs window ! 37573 in Great Yarmouth branded livery working an X1 short on Saturday. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

33821 captured by Grahame leaving Norwich for Peterborough on the 10.00 ex Lowestoft. 

Remember this bus ? Often used as an X1 loan vehicle in years gone by, 37562 now finds itself in the regular fleet based at Yarmouth and is here ready to work on a X1 short. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
33819 returned to traffic on 11th December following collision damage repairs, here Grahame snapped her departing westbound working the 11.30 ex Lowestoft with Mr Saban at the wheel. Thanks to Grahame for sending this selection of photographs to the blog.
Sunday was a quiet day as usual, but on Monday coach 20514 was seen out on X1 shorts again by Jamie Skinner - blimey just when you thought they had finished as well ! Two Enviro 400s were removed from traffic today which is very unusual. 33817 working Y11 07.15 from Lowestoft was in trouble on arrival at Peterborough and Lynn produced 33803 tp replace it on the 13.30 King's Lynn - Lowestoft. 33805 was also withdrawn temporarily after it had arrived in Lowestoft on K3-XL09 as it needed a new tyre. On Tuesday temporary lights between Toftwood and Dereham caused minor delays. Timekeeping on Tuesday and today (Wednesday) has been exceptionally good for the time of year. Finally 33806 has not worked since Friday due to a wiring problem.
I will try and produce another blog before Christmas, time permitting.