Tuesday August 18th 2009 ~ Where Do You Start ?
34108 still extols the virtues of Somerset Cider - guess the operators could have done with one today ! Photo : Michael Bryant
Yes where do you start with a day like today ? Perhaps a good place would be to look at the blog for Tuesday 19th August 2008 which was reflecting on the B12 Paragons and their history ? Today the ratio of Geminis to B10M coaches came pretty much the nearest to parity we have seen since the double decker fleet were introduced. There has been much grumbling in high places of late (apparently) because of the failure to give the advertised low floor service. The stopgap idea that disabled passengers can telephone First to check if their chosen service is suitable falls down as there are so often changes of vehicle, meaning that what starts the day on a diagram is often substituted somewhere along the line. It is not so bad if the B10M coaches are scattered about, but when one gets a day like yesterday where four ran in succession it can mean a gap of two and a half hours between low floor services. The use of the 'emergency' Royale has at least given passengers a decker with more comfortable coach style seats, even if it is not low floor.
The missing Geminis today were 37565 (Rowan Road / CCTV fault), 37567 (MOT), 37571 (Rebuild), 37576 (Volvo repairs), 37578 (Lowestoft unavailable) and 37579 (Full Circle repairs).
The last thing that was needed then was for another B9 to come a cropper, but that's exactly what happened. 37573 on only its second day back in service after a three week layoff at Volvo for engine repairs worked K4 08.35 from Peterborough but expired at Hockering with a failed injector. It was hastily scooped off to Volvo for repair and passengers travelled forward on K5 which was following with 20353. Whether this meant K5 was heavily delayed too is not known, but with passengers waiting at Norwich for an eastbound service which hadn't turned up (K4), 20123 was dug out to run in the times of K5. Now this was not a good choice but was probably the only suitable vehicle on hand and before the day was out it had overheated at Peterborough and on arrival back at King's Lynn (who bless them thought they'd seen the back of 20123 after a series of failures at the beginning of July) was spouting copious quantities of oil.
Back to this morning though and 20115 was turned out by Yarmouth on Y6, this worked to Peterborough on the 05.50 and then back to Lowestoft where 20353 relieved it (off K5). K4 was restarted at Lowestoft with eveyones favourite standby, Royale 34108. More swaps involved 37568 on K1 being changed at Lowestoft for 20103 and later 37564 on L12 was taken off and 37568 came back.
20115 has now been reallocated to King's Lynn for X1 use until 37571 returns from Northern Ireland, a situation which is likely to last several months I am told. The timetable was pretty much adhered to today apart from the events described above. 20103/15/23 have already been mentioned and today also saw the use of 20104 (Y7), 20106 (K3), 20107 (L10) and 20127 on Y13. At least good fortune smiled on the trio of B7s which were all in service.
20105 remains at Rowan Road spare along with 20121 and also there today was (unusually) 20118. 20109 is at King's Lynn garage awaiting a reconditioned fuel pump. A private hire this coming Sunday will see two of the Lynn B10Ms have a trip out to Chessington World of Adventure and 20106/18 are looking favourites for this as things stand - maybe they should try a day on the X1 if they want a world of adventure !
This evening 20107 cruised past King's Lynn South Gates at 19.35 having completed the journey from Swaffham via Narborough in just 21 minutes while 20123 (despite its problems) came steaming past the same location at 19.47 having done the trip from Wisbech in just 17 minutes. Gemini 37577 is involved in a bit of a mystery at the moment, yesterday it was 3 early departing Wisbech on L8 09.48 to Peterborough and today 2 early on Y9 10.18 westbound. Geminis do have a dashboard clock apparently, so may be 577s is out of sync. X1 drivers have all been issued with time signal controlled watches in an effort to improve punctuality. On a positive note the widespread early running commonplace until about 12 months ago is now extremely rare.
Some time ago we reported an advertising campaign for insurers LV.Com. The small rear adverts were made sub-standard and became heavily degraded in the washers. 37575/6 were B9s which carried this ad. Today 37575 which had just recently been carrying one for NCC part time educational courses, was seen with a new LV Com ad. 37565 is also fitted with one. 37573 has a new unidentified rear ad but we will have to wait until it re-emerges to identify it.
Locally at King's Lynn Olympian 34921 which is required at Yarmouth has stayed put so far to alleviate a vehicle shortage. Scania 65528 has returned from repairs and is now awaiting MOT along with 20131.