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Friday 23rd September 2011 ~ A Day of Two Halves

Today didn't really seem like a day which would end in chaos, but then you never know with the A47 on a Friday do you ?
Up until early afternoon, everything had gone perfectly well, with only very minor delays. K15 which is normally a solid B9 turn, but which had 37158 on Wednesday, was today allocated 37156. I was surprised to find it almost on time on the 12.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough. When I didn't see it return, I assumed it might have taken an alternative route for some reason, or may be it had expired. In the end it became obvious that something was badly amiss, as then K16 (due past me at 15.20) and K17 (due 15.50) both failed to appear either. Going west, things seemed unaffected and buses ran as follows : K17 37576 1 late, K18 37573 1 late, K19 37563 8 late, K1 37575 8 late, K2 37570 4 late and K3 37157 2 late.

Eventually at 16.07, 37156 went past Lowestoft bound - this was K15 now running a huge 77 minutes late ! There was no sign of K16, but then K17 came back 48 late at 16.38, then the missing K16 finally turned up with 37159 arriving at Wisbech Horsefair at 17.06 (due 15.21) and consequently a massive (and possibly all time record breaking) 105 minutes late. Running closely behind it was 37573 on K18, itself 50 late. These two buses passed Walpole Highway at 17.22 and 17.26 respectively.
So what exactly happened then ? Well Cambridgeshire Traffic News cited a lorry on fire and a shed load of potatoes closing the A47 near Eye. Des did some investigations and found the exact location for us. He says "The road Westbound was closed at Thorney Bypass and traffic was going into Thorney and turning left towards Whittlesea. The road eastbound was closed at the Eye turn off near to the white Millstones, so traffic was being returned toward Peterborough through Eye Village.
37156 (K15) dep Lynn 12.45, should return to Lynn for the 15.32 to Lowestoft, actual arrival 16.45. This then operated by Lowestoft driver as K16 16.02 to Lowestoft. K17 16.32 Lynn - Lowestoft which is operated by a Lynn driver who keeps the same bus and returns to Lynn at 20.48 didn't run, but was supposed to go light to Lowestoft instead.

I was next up and my drive should have been XL05 (K18) - 37573 due Lynn 16.54. I was told to take the next bus that came in, which was expected to be 37159 (K16) , what turned up was 37576 (K17) at the Southgates at 17.04. The driver had come direct from Peterborough  via Whittlesea and hadn't passed 37159. So, 37576 had somehow overtaken the bus 30 mins in front of it. One can only assume that the driver of 37159 had been caught in traffic immediately in the vicinity of the fire. I left as above and with light loading caught up with 37156 loading in Norwich bus station @ 18.50. He took a full load and I then pulled onto the stand to take the rest, some 12 passengers. I overtook 37156 on Norwich southern bypass to arrive in Yarm -4 (19.24). - So 37576 had overtaken the two buses that should have been running in front of it!
In short - 
A bus was put in for the 15.32 leaving at 15.50
The 15.32 to Low became the 16.02 leaving at 16.50
The 16.32 to Low became the 17.02 to Yarm leaving at 17.11

Is this the latest X1 ever ? 37159 passes Walpole 106 minutes late this afternoon.
Well thanks for that lengthy explanation Des. Naturally buses ended up in the wrong places this evening, 37159 and 37573 which should have finished at Lowestoft and Yarmouth, were both returned to Lynn and 37563 & 37576 which had been supposed to come back to Lynn ended at Yarmouth. 37575 on K1 didn't work the 16.35 from Peterborough throughout and came off at Lynn due to excessive congestion. 37566 on the 19.10 from Peterborough was seen at Lynn Southgates about 10 late at 20.55, so by then normality seemed to be returning.
The actual location of the blockage is shown in the picture below ;

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