Wednesday 8th July 2009 ~ Royale Diversion
34108 retains its allover ad for Thatchers cider - the only one left to retain this. Jamie Vendy's atmospheric pic was taken at Peterborough railway station this evening.
34108 departs from Queensgate this evening after a faultless display on the X1 today. Picture by Jamie V
A rather historic day on the X1, but one which began rather quietly. 20123 was used by King's Lynn on K2 and after 20104 passed by on K4 a seemingly endless run of B9s began, these being K5 572, Y6 567, Y7 573, L8 563, Y9 576 and L10 577. L11 ran late but in the event was 566.
I had an early lunch today and was preoccupied with how much my MOT on the Mondeo was going to cost me, so imagine my surprise when on leaving Walpole Highway heading back to Wisbech I was suddenly passed by Volvo Olympian / Alexander Royale 34108 heading back east on L12, dead on time incidentally. This is the first time one of these Lowestoft based vehicles has appeared west of Dereham on an X1 and even when a couple were on loan to King's Lynn they were never used. Turns out (thanks to Syd Eade on EABG) that 34108 is the first one of these to have had its tacho calibrated to enable it to run as an X1 substitute.
With L12's next leg being the 17.47 Lowestoft - Peterborough and 22.05 Peterborough - King's Lynn fevered activity with mobile phones resulted in a posse of fans alerted to the fact that the Royale might complete the diagram. Before this though there was an A47 incident somewhere in the Dereham area and L8 18.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough with 37563 left 40 late. Y9 with 37576 was 30 late arriving and just 2 minutes behind was 37577 on L10 which then had to await a driver off his break and eventually passed Bruce 26 late. The prospects for L12 were therefore not good and when Bruce rang at 21.50 to say it had not gone through Walpole Highway, I feared the worst. Jamie Vendy, the mad fool, decided to risk a tankful of of petrol and take his bike out to Peterborough this evening in the event that 34108 might return. I had just given him the news that it had not been sighted by Bruce when it turned up at Peterborough rail station at 22.02 much to the delight of Mr. Vendy. The pictorial evidence you will see at the top of this blog. I was involved in a pool match tonight, but left early to witness the arrival and departure of 34108 at Wisbech where three people alighted and zero joined it, leaving the driver alone to return to King's Lynn at 23.00. Whether in future Royales will be given the nod over B10Ms remains to be seen, but there seems little doubt that this is just the beginning of a spell of activity by this popular comfortable fleet on the X1. The reason of course for the non-appearance of the Royale at Walpole Highway at 21.08 was that it was running late due to having had to wait for a driver at King's Lynn and took the A47 bypass. Tonight on its return it had just left Wisbech at 23.00 when a lorry fire on the B198 at the Victoria Cafe saw 34108 take another (very rare) diversion round the back of the Cafe avoiding the obstacle.
The appearance of 34108 naturally overshadowed everything else. Tonight 20104 was removed from K4 at 16.37 and 20105 off schools worked forward to Peterborough and then went back all the way to Lowestoft. Last night I reported the use of 'the Beast', 20107, on Y13. On arrival at Lynn at 21.40, the incoming driver tried to shut down 107 whilst waiting for his relief, but 107 refused to switch off - well you can't keep a good bus down can you ? - so Kerry was summoned to take a replacement to the bus station. This turned out to be a Scania and this duly did the 21.50 to Peterborough and return. This morning Richard couldn't fault 20107 and sent it out on K16 where on arrival at Lowestoft it was taken off for examination. What did K16b is at present not known, but seems likely to have been 37568 or 20103. Both these were over at Lowestoft, but it appears neither was deemed fit at 07.15 to work L12 hence the use of 34108. The MOT on 20351 is due to take place tomorrow and next vehicle for same is 20121 so at last it will be fixed. 37579 remains at Volvo, Norwich and the no show of 37570 for two days now suggests that this may well have joined it.