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29/12/2012

Saturday 22nd - Friday 28th December ~ A Star from the East ?

Well a short week, so a short blog but with a few more pictures. The weather has hardly been conducive to good photography lately with some really dark dismal days.
Saturday 22nd supplied us with a pre-Christmas surprise. 37564 managed to get 'lost in the system', presumably a pre-Christmas hangover. In its place, passengers on L12-XL18 had surprise transport today in the shape of Paragon coach 20514. This was particularly noteworthy as it was the first coach to work to Peterborough since April 20th and only the third this year. As usual the weather was dire, so instead of photographing it, I took a little video of her splashing her way back to Lowestoft :
video

Now just in case the video fails to work, here's a picture of 20514 taken by Bruce in the appalling weather conditions :



Not surprisingly on such a busy Saturday, punctuality suffered on some services. L11-XL17 12.05 from Peterborough passed through Walton Highway with 37572 21 minutes late and 20514 on L12-XL18 (above) followed running 13 late. 37572 was changed over for 37575 at King's Lynn and this did the rest of the turn. the B7s were also late runners with 37159 on K15-XL02 (it had taken over from 37576 at 12.45) returning 10 late and going west the two regular B7 turns, K16-XL03 & K18-XL05 passed through 25 & 20 late respectively with 37158 & 37160.
On Sunday 23rd, 37574 was in trouble again, this time with a faulty adblu sensor and 'lumpy' gears. It was in use for most of the day but was eventually replaced at King's Lynn by 37569. This had started the day on diagram 10 and was itself replaced by 37156. 37578 is having a scheduled brake modification carried out at King's Lynn, so may not be out for a while.
So to Christmas Eve and an early shutdown as usual. This meant Y6-XL12 and L8-XL14 terminated at King's Lynn and K17-XL04 & K19-XL06 at Yarmouth and Lowestoft to compensate. 37568 on K14-XL01 was seen at lunchtime with a faulty destination display which resembled a snowdrift. Timekeeping was good except in the case of K19-XL06 which swapped 37564 for 37566 this afternoon and then ran 18 late to Peterborough. Later services were delayed by a fatal accident at Wendling which resulted in an unscheduled diversion. The X1 vehicles spent Christmas at King's Lynn except for 37565/71/75 & 37159 at Great Yarmouth and 37566/68/70/77 at Lowestoft.
A normal weekday service resumed on Thursday 27th and the morning service ran very well. Services from Peterborough were delayed in the afternoon though with L12-XL18 (37566) which had been just 8 late going west returning 19 late, then came 37571 on Y13-XL19 12 late, 37160 on K14-XL01 26 late, 37569 on K15-XL02 6 late and 37156 on K16-XL03 23 late before things got back to timetable. Two turns changed buses for maintenance purposes, L10-XL16 had 37568 taken off for servicing and attention to its destination display at 10.15 and 37573 worked the rest of the diagram. Later 37574 was taken off K19-XL06 and 37157 went forward to Peterborough at 14.45. Over on the X2 there was a nice surprise with 32655 returning to traffic in its new colours.
32655 with X2 branding and route detail seen in Norwich this lunchtime. Photo : Kieran Smith
Typical of recent weather,  37564 dashes away from Walton Highway on Y13-XL19, the 14.04 to Lowestoft on Friday afternoon.
Friday 28th was fairly straightforward with 37579 being changed for 37568 on K15-XL02 and most services running reasonably to time. That said, 37157 came through Walton Highway 18 late on the 14.15 Lynn to Peterborough (K18-XL05).
Although this blog concentrates on the 'through' X1 services, the shuttles from Great Yarmouth and Gorleston can still produce almost anything as shown by the pictures below, all taken by Kieran on the afternoon of the 27th.



Photographs by courtesy of Kieran Smith.

22/12/2012

Thursday December 13th 2012 - Friday December 21st 2012 ~ Seven Years Bad Luck ?

Isn't that what they say if you smash a mirror ? Read on dear friends.......

Pre Christmas traffic doesn't seem to have affected X1 service schedules quite as badly as in recent years. Here's the latest goings on from X1 land. Like many of you I suspect, I was given the worlds worst cold recently so info for 13th & 14th is a little sketchy as I was absent from my office window. On Thursday 13th 37572 was taken off Y6-XL12 in the evening, but it has nevertheless been out every day for a month, 37159 off Y9-XL15 finished the turn. Another swap to an eastbound service occurred with 37573 coming off K4-XL10 and 37568 taking over for the 19.35 King's Lynn - Great Yarmouth. On to Friday and there were numerous swaps with all the Geminis being involved at some point apart from 37574 which is still laid low with a gearbox problem. 37156 had a nightmare run to Peterborough on K16-XL03 departing Southgates 18 late, traffic then took irs toll and the bus was 29 late into Peterborough rail station. Despite quick loading and a 20 minute defIcit leaving Queensgate, 156 was 32 late at Wisbech. Des' next turn, K18-XL05 was 12 late from King's Lynn eastbound but thankfully lost little further time. This was with 37160 which had earlier terminated at Wisbech on the 14.15 from Lynn after failing to start. A faulty relay was replaced by fitters.  37571 suffered a puncture on Nar Ouse Way at 12.25 on L10-XL16 and K15-XL02 never ran from Lowestoft at 09.25, starting instead at Yarmouth at 10.12 with 37569.
After a quiet period, Saturday saw a bit of excitement -firstly L12-XL18 managed to overtake L11-XL17 meaning that 37157 off L12 ended up on L11. This was not without incident as 37157 then became involved in a skirmish in Gorleston losing  a wing mirror and mirror arm. On arrival in Yarmouth, Paragon coach 20515 was sent to the rescue and this then worked forward to King's Lynn. Initially it was intended to send it back east on L8-XL14 21.35 King's Lynn - Lowestoft, but this fell through and instead 20515 went back east on Sunday - I think 37156 travelled light from Yarmouth and the driver took the coach back, but this needs confirmation.

Back to Saturday and Tony & Marcus report the 16.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough, K4-XL10 with 37572, leaving Lynn via the A17 and then diverting through Tilney All Saints to regain the booked route, so presumably yet more delays on the A47. The Sunday service was entirely B9 worked otherwise with slight delays due to a broken manhole cover on the Acle Straight.

Monday 17th : The X2 provided a surprise today with Norwich Gemini 36166 workung on the route - it is thought to be on loan whilst 32655 is away, presumably for repainting. 66126 was also about on the 12.40 Norwich - Lowestoft. 32200 and coach 20514 were viewed at Norwich by Malcolm on X1 shorts.
Wisbech Xmas Market brought much extra traffic to the Fenland town today. X1 services shuffled by fully loaded with around 7 minutes being average lateness this morning.
My staff Christmas party was held at Terrington St. John Woolpack which was handy for viewing afternoon services between the Turkey and Christmas Pudding. 15 minutes was the maximum delay recorded by 37570 on Y13-XL19. Both K16-XL03 & K17-XL05 came back through the village eastbound 13 late but 37573 on K18-XL06 was just 3 late. There were more incidents tonight, 37567 on Y7-XL13 was caught in queueing traffic from Little Fransham to Swaffham McDonalds roundabout because of an rta. The service finally got away from Swaffham to Lynn at 18.23 (47 late).
 K1-XL07 burst at Acle tonight with a gearbox hose failure on 37574 and it then had to suffer the indignity of being towed into Great Yarmouth. This in turn led to an unexpected sight on Tuesday morning when Grahame Bessey reports Y13-XL19 08.15 Lowestoft - Peterborough departing with coach 20514. This was soon taken off however and a revived 37574 worked forward from Great Yarmouth. Delays of up to 10 minutes were noted on some services, but overall the standard of timekeeping was better than in recent days and certainly an improvement on previous years. An unexpected sight amongst the Geminis at Lynn this evening was Ex LT RM 39623 for MOT. Tuesday also  saw 37565 on K15-XL02 swap over at lunchtime for 37564 which had been receiving an axle modification. To enable scheduled maintenance to take place on the B7s, K18-XL05 also had a change with 37158 giving way to 37159 at 14.15.
Wednesday saw some patch up work to panels on 37565 and 37156, while 37566 had a starter fault which was rectified in time for it to work K5-XL11. A good day for timekeeping despite busy roads and heavy loadings. 37160 on Y9-XL15 was exceptional, being full when it passed me just 2 minutes late on the 10.18 Wisbech - Peterborough and it hadn't lost any more time when it went back to Lowestoft at 11.56.
 On Thursday, the Christmas shopping hoards become even greater. Afternoon services ran around 10 late which surely only a scrooge could grumble at ? There were two failures, 37571 on K15-XL02 and 37578 on K17-XL04. The latter had an adblu problem while 37571 had a problem on the Acle Straight where speed was reduced to 15mph. After pulling in and consultation with King's Lynn garage, the system was reset and the bus continued to Lynn where it was changed over at 12.44. 37159 on K18-XL05 was fairly typical of today's services , being 8 late from King's Lynn westbound and 21 late on arrival back at the Southgates changeover, all the loss due to heavy traffic. There was a visitor to the King's Lynn office today :


By all accounts, Friday was a dreadful day - major congestion and accidents on the route conspired to make buses run at irregular intervals. This afternoon, Peter was waiting for over an hour at Peterborough rail station with two arrivals going back east empty before a bus arrived at 16.10 and eventually left Queensgate with a full compliment of standing passengers. Cheryl was waiting at Thorney for the 17.35 to Wisbech and saw 37570, 37563 and 37158 head westbound before 570 returned to pick her up considerably late. At Lowestoft things weren't much better with Malcolm viewing  Y7-XL13 arriving 29 late with 37566, 37567 on L8-XL14 arrived just 5 late and earlier 37158 on K5-XL11 had been 20 late in. Later L8 caught up Y7 at Great Yarmouth. Passengers transferred to 37567 on L8 and Y7 (37566) went light westbound to regain some time.On his morning outward trip, Peter had caught Y9-XL15 with 37159 which was 15 late and delayed due to a malfunctioning ticket machine. Below is a missive from Bruce to the X1 team and a rather festive listing of today's bus plan until the A47 intervened !


14/12/2012

Wednesday December 5th - Wednesday December 12th ~ While I Was Away....

Having returned from Belgium, it seems ages since the last blog, but time passes so quickly at this time of year.
Let's go to Wednesday December 5th to start. K4 (XL10) had a funny day, usually a B9 it started the day with 37159 but this got swapped at King's Lynn at 10.02 for 37156. Finally this evening 37576 off K3 (XL09) took the service forward to Great Yarmouth at 19.35. Morning timekeeping was all over the place due to delays between Wisbech and Peterborough. Lowestoft bound services noted were K3 (XL09) 12 late, K4 (XL10) 21 late and K5 (XL11) 10 late before services returned to timetable. Westbound services were OK until L10 (XL16) which turned up 29 late with 37564 following the temporary closure of Dereham Market Place, not surprisingly 37578 on L11 (XL17) following was just 9 late and by the time it returned it was on time. Later 37564 had recouped some time and was 14 late from Southgates to Lowestoft.
Y13 (XL19) was also in trouble with 37570 (left) having to make a visit to Roundtree Way depot in Norwich for cleaning after passenger illness. The driver (DS) then took the bus light to King's Lynn but heavy traffic prevented any great progress and eventually it departed the garage at 12.02 for Peterborough. the remainder of the day was thankfully uneventful.
Thursday 6th was quieter and it looks like only Y6 (XL12)  swapped vehicles, 37576 off for servicing and its replacement is believed to have been 37160. Y9 (XL15) was late departing Lowestoft tonight - due off at 15.55, it was still on the stand when 37571 left on L10 (XL16) at 16.25. The reason was an ABS sensor fault on 37158. Other X1s viewed at Lowestoft by Malcolm earlier in the day saw 37568 on K17 (XL04) arriving 14 late, K18 (XL05) with 37156 arrived 22 late and went out 19 late. Mid afternoon services were on time though.
On to Friday 7th and one of those strange changes which leaves one wondering why. K2 (XL08) with 37563 was later 37577 and Y6 (XL12) the opposite. I suspect the swap occurred due to late running, but who knows ? 37571 on K15 (XL02) encountered heavy settling snow on the 09.25 ex Lowestoft, it was 4 late from Yarmouth and 9 late at Acle. The snow then turned to rain and departure from Norwich was on time. Later Des reports K1 (XL07) with 37574 being on time eastbound from the Southgates driver change at 18.07, but around 35 passengers joined at Norwich and slow loading resulted in an 11 minute late arrival in Yarmouth.

There were several vehicle swaps on Saturday including 37574 again which started out on Y6 (XL12) and finished up on L8 (XL14). Sunday was the day when 37574 played up though - it has been a little unreliable of late. This time Des was driving it on XL09 07.08 James Paget Hospital to Peterborough when a 'check transmission' warning activated and speed was reduced to 45mph and even less on any gradient. A replacement in the form of 37159 was ready to work forward from King's Lynn to Peterborough at 11.50.This was not the only B7 out however and for the first time since August Bank Holiday Monday 2011, King's Lynn let a B7 loose on the Sunday service. The omens were not good though and whilst working the 10.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft it attempted to overtake a Range Rover doing 30mph (well even a B7 can do 49mph !) on the dual carriageway section between Walpole Highway and Terrington . The driver of the 4x4 then took leave of his senses and deliberately veered into the path of 157 causing an impact and forcing the driver onto the hard shoulder. Eventually thanks to the bus drivers cool head, the bus was able to rejoin the main carriageway. It is refreshing that some upstairs passengers came down to check that the driver was OK having witnessed the irresponsible actions of the other driver. The central reservation still bears the scars where the X1 was forced off the road. Fortunately the bus was able to continue despite the superficial panel damage.

Slow motorists are nothing new in the Fens. Here 34825 on its last ever run on the X1 takes on a car on the old A47 between Walpole Highway and Terrington. January 6th 2005.


 Meanwhile I had a pleasant journey back from Peterborough rail station with 37564, only marred by a vociferous professional drinker  with a mobile phone - thankfully he eventually ran out of credit, but not before he had regailed us with tales of his bawdy exploits. In view of the fact that everyone must know how to text, can we consider banning the use of mobiles on board for calls ? This sort of behaviour doesn't encourage travellers to repeat the experience.

The new week started on 10th then with 37574 off the road with a gearbox problem, 37578 with an engine fault and 37569 with an adblu fault. This meant servicing commitments had to be juggled and 37570 was done first thing to enable it to operate K5 (XL11), while 37566 had to work K3 (XL09) and then be positioned for its maintenance. Fortunately, everything else was on best behaviour. L10 (XL16) was viewed heading for King's Lynn at 22.20 with 37156 in darkness, so presumably minus any passengers. On the X2, 32654 returned to service in the new First livery.

I was back at work on Tuesday when I saw all 19 turns and most ran to time - once again L11 (XL17) was late with 37159 14 down departing Wisbech  for Peterborough and K16 (XL03) 13.48 to Peterborough with 37573 was also 14 late. 37578 was tried out on K2 (XL08) but didn't complete the turn and 37577 off Y7 (XL13) worked back to Lowestoft at 18.35. I took a friend to catch the 08.03 from Walpole Highway to Peterborough this morning (K5 - XL11) and 37572 arrived bang on time but with its destination display having reverted to the standard style instead. One of those incidents which you always expect to happen, but which in fact very rarely does, occurred this morning when Cheryl texted to say that Y6 (XL12) 08.48 Wisbech - Peterborough and K3 (XL09) 08.56 Wisbech - Lowestoft both arrived in the bus station proclaiming Peterborough on the front. This was soon rectified and 37156 was seen departing correctly displaying Lowestoft. One item of note today was noisy 37160 performing on Y9 (XL15) - it was 6 late goimg west but came back slightly early - definitely a red letter day. 37157 however, was seen arriving Lowestoft 15 late on Y7 (XL13).
37159 is now back after attention to its engine. It is seen here getting a wash at King's Lynn on Tuesday evening after arrival on L11-XL17. Photo taken by kind permission of First.
Finally then to Wednesday 12th and a nice day with any delays reported all being less than 10 minutes in the west. No swaps reported either. It was quite exciting for X2 passengers today though, when the usual suspects were partially ousted by 66126, 34114 and 34155. Thanks to Michael Bryant for the gen.

05/12/2012

Monday November 26th - Tuesday December 4th 2012 ~ The Story Continues

A quick catch up before I have a short holiday. Monday 26th saw 37577 having a new window fitted and 37570 stopped at King's Lynn for servicing. 37159 has gone to Volvo at Norwich and is rumoured to require a new engine which sounds serious. Low point of what was otherwise a good day for the X1 was L10 with 37158 departing Wisbech 5 late on the 10.48 to Peterborough and then a big gap until L11 finally appeared with 37160 at 11.45, 25 late. 37574 on L12 was on time just 5 minutes behind it. Malcolm viewed 32203 at Lowestoft - it came in from Martham and then worked the 15.03 X2 to Norwich departing 10 late.
Tuesday 27th witnessed swaps on three turns, K5 had 37569 changed for 37157, L10 had 37578 taken off in favour of 37572 and Y13 began the day with 37573 finishing with 37578. Bruce was monitoring today and says K15 did not pass him westbound, but came back spot on time with 37574. Another surprise at Lowestoft was the appearance of President 32200 on the 10.38 X2 to Norwich, while Michael Bryant reports the increasing use of Palatines on this route. 37571 was in trouble tonight whilst working the last leg of Y7 from Lowestoft - King's Lynn where it is due to garage after arrival at 18.07. 571 had low oil pressure at Acle. It managed to limp to Toftwood where a Lynn fitter attended to effect repairs and eventual arrival in Lynn was 45 late.
Wednesday 28th began with 37160 in trouble on L12 at Thickthorn with a loss of gears. An oil top up solved the problem and on arrival at King's Lynn it was taken out of service for examination. L11 continued from Lynn westbound at 10.45 with 37157 and later L12 with 37576 gave way to a refreshed 37160 for the 14.02 Lynn to Lowestoft. Swaps were not over for the day though and K16 was next with 37567 coming off and 37576 working forward at 16.02. I was stocktaking at work but saw most turns. Having said that, both Y7 and L8 evaded me going westbound this morning. Latecomers were 37158 on Y9, 12 late and Y13 which went to Peterborough and came back 13 late in both directions with 37564. Over at Lowestoft K18 06.51 from Wisbech arrived 18 late with 37156, but the X2 was once again in the news with 32200 out again on the 10.38 ex Lowestoft  and 34156 on the 14.10 ex Norwich

Time for some chaos then and Thursday certainly provided that. A crash at Necton shut the A47 for recovery work from 10.45 until 12.55 badly affecting services. Y13 11.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough looks to have been a non-runner. This turn arrived in Lynn late with 37566 and 37568 then took over later on the 14.32 to Lowestoft. K15 12.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough came through Wisbech 22 late with 37566 (off Y13) having replaced 37568 at Lynn. K16 with the ill starred 37160 fared even worse and set sail for Peterborough 27 late at 14.15. Not sure what time 37579 on K17 went westbound, but it returned 32 late. Several buses changed turns including 37571 which came into Lynn on Y9 at 09.37 and then went to the garage. 571 was available again to work K5 forward to Lowestoft at 10.32, this service had come in with 37574 which was then stopped for repairs including a faulty adblu sensor and airbags. At midday there was a strange carry on when 37578 on L8 arrived in Lynn only to turn round and work K14 back to Peterborough. Similarly, 37564 off K14 promptly went back East with L8. There was still time for one more swap with K2 which was 37573 having a starter problem, so 37569 which itself had been having attention to its adblu sensor was made available for the 15.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough. Finally Des reports 37570 on K4 arriving at King's Lynn about 30 late from Peterborough this evening. Departure to Great Yarmouth was 28 late and even with Mr. Speed at the controls, heavy traffic meant little time was recouped and the service was 15 late from Norwich - this after his inward service Y7 had also suffered on the congested A47, 37156 was 4 late from Lowestoft and 26 minutes in arrears by the time it got to King's Lynn.
There was another fiasco on Friday which brought bus services grinding to a halt in King's Lynn. Emergency surface repairs to the A47 saw the Saddlebow - Hardwick section closed eastbound at lunchtime with diversions via Nar Ouse Way and Hardwick Road. This soon resulted in drivers becoming displaced and some long delays were recorded. To cap a miserable week for 37160, it began the delays and was 20 late heading west on L11. Y13 with 37564 went to Peterborough 15 late but Friday traffic saw it lose a further 10 minutes by the time it came back eastbound. Both K14 and K19 appeared to be victims of the disruption and neither passed Bruce or myself. The delays continued into the evening and L12 which is due to depart Lynn for Peterborough at 20.50 was allegedly 90 minutes late with 37563, so 37160 off L11 worked the turn. In addition to these delays, 37158 expired at 16.00 near Norwich with an air leak whilst working Y9 and fitters had to attend, so all in all, a day to forget.
At least Saturday passed off smoothly with just a single vehicle change reported, this being on K17 which started with 37568 and ended up with 37577. Most services ran well, but 37157 on L11 was 22 late eastbound through Walpole at 13.28. Next day 37566 on the Sunday turn supplied by Lowestoft suffered a broken upper windscreen en route and 37157 was wheeled out to replace it.
The new week began well with just a single swap involving K14 which had 37568 (adblu sensor)  taken off in favour of 37574. The latter had been undergoing heavy repairs since last Thursday. All buses ran pretty much to timetable with a couple of exceptions, these being  37573 on L12 which was 11 late heading west, but 25 late returning past Bruce. This evening the lost time had been regained however and 573 was seen heading home on the 22.10 ex Peterborough in good time. 37160 is really going through a jonah phase at the moment - today she was seen departing King's Lynn 28 late on L11 showing 'Not In Service' on the front but with passengers on board. The service looks to have missed Wisbech altogether ! At Lowestoft there was a surprise when coach 20515 appeared for the 11.15 1a to Martham. X1s viewed by Malcolm included K17 with 37579 which was 19 late in and departed 9 late on the 10.25  westbound.
Finally to Tuesday December 4th and all services ran OK except L11 (again !). 37574 was 19 late on the 11.18 Wisbech - Peterborough. 37159 was returned to King's Lynn garage from Volvo today pending return to service.
Finally Colin White writes "Hi Gerard, here’s something for the blog.
Whilst there are roadworks and traffic lights in the vicinity of the Magdalen Square bus stop a temporary bus stop has been placed outside the Magdalen Way shops but it appears no one has actually told the drivers that it is there. (See photo).
 I’ve just witnessed a lady waiting there for the 11.15  X1 and it just sailed past, she had to run up to it sitting in the queue of traffic waiting at the traffic lights. There is no mention of the road works on the First Website so maybe an entry on your blog might help. The road works are due to end this Friday. I have only seen two Service 8 buses actually stop at the temporary one".

Apologies for the paucity of pictures this time - I'm afraid it is past my bedtime. Next blog when I return.