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31/10/2013

Wednesday 30th October 2013 ~ Scarborough Fair

Back on the first day of Enviro operation, this stunning photo of 33804 was captured by Russell Young near Swaffham. Photo Copyright : Russell Young
I had expected ADL staff to attend to 33819 on Monday, but what I didn't expect was that it would return to Scarborough for attention. The reason is water ingress in the bodywork. This has meant a reprieve of sorts for ex demonstrator 33423, details to follow,
Niggly faults have been the order of the week so far, beginning on Monday morning with 33804 losing its gears at Swaffham while working Y7-XL13 05.41 from Gorleston, 33814 was provided to work forward and this continued to Peterborough and back to Lynn where a revived 33804 was given the all clear to resume the duty. 33804 then had an extended day and instead of finishing at King's Lynn just after 18.00, it was called upon to take over from 33813 on L8-XL14 19.01 King's Lynn to Peterborough believed to be because the latter required cleaning.
 The DDA Interlock fault which seems to have affected a few Enviros occurred with 33807 at Norwich at lunchtime and this was temporarily fixed so it could continue to Lynn. Here 33814 went forward. Punctuality was fairly good, but Y9-XL15 had 33808 which arrived back in Wisbech from Peterborough at 12.18, 27 minutes late. On the other hand 33823 on K15-XL02 came in from the west at 14.56 which was 5 minutes early.
Wi-Fi problems with 33804/23/24 were fixed on Tuesday. 33803 was allowed out on the road, it took over from 33817 on Y7-XL13 11.31 King's Lynn - Lowestoft but only reached Toftwood before it suffered a complete loss of power. 33815 was sent out to replace it. At teatime 33807 had to be taken off K1-XL07 and with 33817 undergoing a safety service, 33423 was used to work the 15.20 to Peterborough and back.
K5-XL11 09.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft came bounding into Wisbech 5 minutes early at 09.46 with 33824 this morning and timekeeping was pretty good save early afternoon when K14-XL01 was seen by Bruce with 33818 passing Walpole at 15.09, 24 late.
33804 spinning along nicely on Wednesday morning's 07.33 Swaffham - Peterborough
On to Wednesday then to bring the blog up to date. Following its latest hiccup, 33803 was kept in Vancouver Avenue all day and with 33819 still at Scarborough, this just left one spare bus. K3-XL09 08.05 from Peterborough had 33820, but this came off at Lynn for 33818 to go forward. The fresh bus was in trouble near Dereham however with loss of drive and this once again meant it was the 'stealth bus', 33423 to the rescue and this completed the turn. The day was marred by a number of A47 accidents, beginning with an accident between Acle and West Caister which resulted in a morning peak closure and subsequent diversions, simultaneously there were problems further west at Brundall due to another accident. This meant some services were on time, but others delayed.
Here in the west my day began with encountering the 07.33 from Swaffham and the 07.30 eastbound ex Peterborough, both due at Walpole Highway at 08.31 and both passing each other in the village exactly as timetabled at that time. Y9-XL15 with 33816 was clearly affected by the incidents further east as it was seen departing Wisbech 21 late on the 10.18 to Peterborough. The early morning delays combined with those caused by the temporary lights on Lynn Road in Wisbech (these are only in operation between about 09.30 & 16.00) saw lunchtime services well behind time. K15-XL02 turned up passing my window at 13.56 , 27 minutes late still at the time with 33824 though this came off later with 33820 going forward as the 15.41 Lynn - Lowestoft. K14-XL01 fared even worse returning past me on the 13.45 from Peterborough with 33822 running 31 late. A further accident at Rings End on the A141 at about 14.30 saw traffic backing up to beyond Guyhirn affecting the A47.
Tonight 33823 had to visit Lowestoft garage for a replacement ticket machine before continuing to Yarmouth and forming the 20.35 to King's Lynn, it was on time on arrival.
Just before I sign off this one, I ought to add that there are encouraging signs that the Enviros may well end up giving the Geminis a run for their money. 33809 has now completed 31 continuous days in traffic on the route - yes it has been on the road daily since day one (30/9/13). Its accumulated mileage is now 11,417 !

28/10/2013

Sunday 27th October 2013 ~ The Late Show

Just a very brief posting for now as it is past my bedtime. It has been a very quiet weekend on the X1 route, though the storm forecast for Monday morning could mean tomorrow's early services are subject to change or even cancellation.
The last two Geminis at Lynn, 37571 & 37579 have now left for Full Circle and 33423 remains at Vancouver Avenue undergoing work. 33819 is due to have work done by ADL tomorrow and 33803 remains out of service, it last worked on 17th. 33822 needs minor repairs, but the other Enviros are behaving themselves.

26/10/2013

Friday 25th October 2013 ~ That Friday Feeling

Before we look at Friday, let's go back to Thursday - surely there will be nothing to report now with the new fleet up and running ? Well certainly the timetable was kept fairly to schedule today, but a very rare occurrence saw some unusual activity this evening. It would appear that due to an oversight, Enviro 33824 was not filled to its maximum fuel capacity on Wednesday evening and so it was that tonight it came to a halt between Acle and Norwich having run out of diesel. It was working the longest turn, K14-XL01 and this is the last through service to Peterborough, As a result Norwich produced good old Gemini 36180 out of a hat and this worked forward to King's Lynn where 33813 had been prepared to take over for the last leg.
Over at Lowestoft there was another new liveried arrival on Thursday, thanks to Syd Eade for the tip off.
37566 is back and being prepared to work on the X2 :


37566 was not best positioned in Gasworks Road says James, but thought you'd like to see it.                                   Photos copyright : James Race
Friday was also reminiscent of days past when heavy traffic levels coupled with temporary lights at Little Fransham and in Wisbech brought numerous changes of vehicle to keep the timetable running.
As early as 07.20, K18-XL05 had a vehicle change with 33818 which had just worked light to Wisbech and back coming off  in favour of freshly serviced 33811. Then at 09.35  33810 had to be taken off Y9-XL15 06.41 from Gorleston and 33824 which had been retrieved from Norwich (see above) was able to take the turn forward to Peterborough.
 By 11.00 the impact of the roadworks at Little Fransham was being felt and L12-XL18 ran very late with 33819 being noted departing Wisbech 32 late. Y13-XL19 the had 33818 inserted at Lynn replacing 33822 which Des brought into Lynn 32 late. This then heralded a cascading of vehicles to prevent too much time being lost.
 K15-XL02 was also heavily delayed and was 28 late from Wisbech on the 13.28 westbound with 33815, 33817 which had earlier arrived on K14-XL01 then took K15 to Lowestoft at 15.41. K16 ran with 33816 throughout. There were other changes too numerous to mention through the day and into the early evening. On the Gemini front, 37574 made its way across Norfolk to Full Circle today and this evening loan Enviro 33423 was back at Vancouver Avenue receiving attention.

24/10/2013

Wednesday 23rd October 2013 ~ Consolidation

Well that's the excitement over for another five years ! The all new Enviro X1 service is now underway, so how have the new buses been performing on the rigorous duties ? Fairly well actually.
 On Tuesday there were no swaps of vehicle necessary. 33818 joined 33803/10 off the road for attention. The whole service seemed to run well with a few delays of just five minutes or so. The A47 has been relatively road works free and apart from temporary lights on Lynn Road in Wisbech, which have been well regulated, the service has been unhampered by the like. There are of course delays which take place on every weekday in the peak. In the mornings this can notably affect eastbound services between East Tuddenham and Honingham and further east on the Acle Straight approach to Great Yarmouth. 

On Wednesday afternoon services ran a little late. K15 - XL02 14.15 from Peterborough came into Wisbech 16 late with 33817 and K19 - XL06 11.30 ex Lowestoft went westbound 18 late with 33813. 
In order to fit in scheduled safety checks, 33808 was used on K5-XL11 and 33806 was taken off K6-XL12 09.35 from Peterborough at Lynn with 33807 (which had just had its service completed) working forward. Things were going to plan until 33805 expired on K3-XL09 08.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft in Gorleston, a recurrence of its DDA Interlock problem being the cause - see Thursday 10th's blog. 33806 was sent out fresh from servicing to take over the duty. 33810 appeared to be ready for a return to service this evening, but 33803 remains dumped at the overflow yard awaiting repair.
Gemini 37564 has now left King's Lynn for repainting at Full Circle.
Not mentioned before has been the retirement of old X1 regular Alexander Royale 34108 at the end of last week. This has meant a reprieve for 34113 seen here :
34113 photographed on Monday by Jamie Skinner.
For those of you who can obtain a copy, there is an excellent article on the X1 Enviro launch by Mel Holley in this week's Route-One magazine. www.route-one.net
Finally welcome back to Des Speed who is now back on the road after his prolonged lay off and thanks to all our regular contributors with a special mention for Angela who is in hospital at the moment, but will hopefully be home for the weekend.

22/10/2013

Monday 21st October 2013 ~ The Enviro Revolution Starts Here

33819 working L12 12.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft this afternoon. Photo copyright : Roy Northcott/ENBB
Today was (as we suggested yesterday) the first weekday of an all Enviro service. This marked a significant event in the history of the X1, as it is the first time ever that such an intensive timetable has been run entirely by one batch of vehicles. This was never possible with the Geminis as only 17 were built specifically for the route, the other five B7s being drafted in to make up the numbers. 33822 which required a fault with its bus stopping sign to be fixed, was ready mid morning and it was able to re-enter service at 12.30 to take Y9-XL15 to Lowestoft, 33815 being removed from this duty.
The service ran almost without a hitch, I say almost because 33824 on its first day out disgraced itself by being unable to reverse out of Lowestoft bus station to work the 13.00 to Peterborough (K3-XL09). Moves were made to get 33815 into position to take over the duty and 33824 eventually made it back to King's Lynn.
Before its misbehaviour, 33824 is about to enter Brasenose Avenue in Gorleston today on its way to Lowestoft. Photo Copyright : Roy Northcott /ENBB
Timekeeping was good and only two duties were noted significantly late : 33816 was 10 down on the 07.30 Peterborough - Lowestoft (K2-XL08), seen at Walsoken and 33805 on L10-XL16 06.50 ex Lowestoft left Wisbech 17 late and returned 23 late. Tonight though it had regained all the lost time.
The mileages of the new fleet will differ considerably due to the staggered delivery times. As of this evening for example, 33824 had done just 398 miles, while top machine 33809 has already amassed over 8,100 miles. That said none of the rest of the new fleet had yet reached 7000 miles, but 33804/6/7/8/11/12 are all expected to pass this milestone tomorrow, as will 33810 if it is repaired following its failure on Saturday. So this evening is almost a Gemini free zone - not quite though as 37579 has arrived from the yard for an MOT which is scheduled for Thursday.
Michael Bryant, Malcolm Hicks and Syd Eade all report the first showing of new liveried 37570 on the X2 today, first seen working the 13.45 from Norwich this afternoon. Fortunately Syd was out with the camera to capture 570 on its inaugural day on its new route :
37570 at Pakefield today working the 15.15 Lowestoft - Norwich X2. Photo copyright : Syd Eade
So its farewell to the X1 Geminis for now and Andy Bunn who works at Lynn depot kindly took these pictures of 37574 after its arrival on the very last (it would seem) X1 worked by a B9 on Saturday night :







20/10/2013

Sunday 20th October 2013 ~ Going Going, Almost Gone

All washed up ? 37577 & 37574 await instructions at Vancouver Avenue tonight.
With all the interest in the new Enviro fleet, this weekend the attention switched to the two remaining Geminis left in service with X1 branding, or as they have become known more recently, 'the white buses'.
Saturday dawned with an almost complete compliment of Enviros for the 19 duties, all except K3-XL09 that is which had 37577. This situation didn't last long though, as 33810 operating K15-XL02 only reached Norwich before being failed with a hydraulic oil leak. This meant Gemini thunderbird 37574 had to be called into action to replace it and this stayed on the turn for the rest of the day.
Other Enviros out of traffic were 33822 with inoperative 'bus stopping' signs and 33817 + 33824 both awaiting commissioning. 33803 is still at the temporary compound awaiting attention to an adblue fault amongst other things.
37576 at Acle today (see below). Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
Grahame Bessey reports 37576 in trouble on an X1 short on Saturday morning with fuel issues and terminating at Acle. Grahame adds "33820 was next to arrive very full and not enough space for those waiting at Acle plus the 37576 passengers, however Ambassadors NX 497 Coach pulled up and kindly gave myself and a dozen others a free trip into Norwich!"
33807 departs Norwich for Peterborough working the 11.55 ex Lowestoft (K1-XL07). Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey
33814 working K6-XL12 09.35 from Peterborough at Acle. Kev Summers at the wheel is not camera shy ! Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey
The Sunday service ran without incident, all Enviros and from those seen, all on time. This does however, leave things on a knife-edge for tomorrow. Will the timetable become 100% Enviro with the entry into service of 33817 & 33824 ? If so it looks as if the spare bus will still be a Gemini until either 33803/10/22 can be fixed. Malcolm Hicks reports Paragon coach 20514 at Lowestoft railway station this afternoon working a rail replacement service. 
Here for the detail enthusiasts is the full log of registrations and rear advertising.

19/10/2013

Friday 18th October 2013 ~ And then there were two.

The decision was made overnight to take Geminis 37572 & 37573 out of traffic today and introduce 33822 & 33823 to the route. In the event 33822 didn't last the course, doing K17-XL04 until lunchtime when 33820 off servicing took its place. 33822 was then sent to the temporary compound to join 33803 which is due to be examined by Alexander Dennis personnel on Monday. 33823 took over from 37574 on K5-XL11 for the 10.31 Lynn - Lowestoft, but 40 minutes later, 37574 was back on the road relieving 33821 which had come in on L12-XL18 from Lowestoft. The only other Gemini left on the route, 37577 was working Y11-XL17 today. 37567 left for repainting today and the final two Enviros to be delivered arrived in King's Lynn, 33817 which is registered YX63 LKF and 33824 which is YX63 LKO.
Now all the new fleet have arrived, I will shortly be listing full details of arrival dates, into service dates, rear vinyls etc etc.
37571 requires new brake discs before it moves on and 37579 needs an MOT which should be done next Thursday. 37573 was undergoing attention today with its adblue problem, but 37564 which passed its MOT yesterday is now ready to depart for repainting, along with 33423.
37574 awaits its fate at Vancouver Avenue this evening, 33811 had just arrived with the 22.49 arrival from Lowestoft.

17/10/2013

Thursday 17th October 2013 ~ Meeting the Public

Wednesday saw the appearance of 33808 in Lowestoft and 33811 in Norwich at the press events to mark the official launch of the new X1 bus fleet. By all accounts, the day was a success, although the weather in Norwich was pretty awful. There was an enthusiastic reception from the residents of Lowestoft though and feedback shows that the public are really liking the new vehicles.
37564 is now being prepared for an MOT at King's Lynn and 37566 has now joined some of its sisters at Full Circle for repainting. 33803 was sidelined on Wednesday with electrical faults, but the rest of the new buses had a successful day.
Zak Nelson from the Norwich Bus Page was present at Wednesday's launches and his enthusiasm in handing out timetables and goody bags resulted in him joining us today (Thursday) in King's Lynn and Peterborough. 
The day began for me with my first trip on one of the new fleet - yes well I've been spending too much time talking /writing about them to get to actually travel on one !
33816 turned up at Walpole Highway 17 minutes late due to heavy traffic in Peterborough and roadworks in Wisbech. I took a seat upstairs and settled into the 'leather luxury'. At Terrington St. John (I know it was there because of the on board announcements !) three ladies boarded and came upstairs. Despite the late running they were full of praise for the new bus, 'lovely seats', 'very comfortable' etc and best of all when they got off at Lynn, 'I'll definitely come on the bus again". Meanwhile, I was so comfortable in my seat, I was the last person to leave at the bus station. 
33811 which was the bus on show, was already parked outside Argos inside the pedestrian area when I arrived and present were various familiar faces from First and also a few fellow bus enthusiasts including Zak, David Bell and Andy James 
No 'First' launch would be complete without Freddie the Frog and he kept the youngsters entertained again today.
Photo copyright : 
http://andysbusblog.blogspot.co.uk/



33811 with Zak handing out timetables for the cause.

Rosemary Parry, Richard Tucker and driver Wayne Savory were representing 'First' in King's Lynn. The public seemed very interested in the Enviro and again were well impressed in the new features employed on the bus.

At Midday it was time to move on to Peterborough and at the invitation of Mrs Parry, Zak and myself were allowed to travel 'not in service' on 33811. This gave Wayne a chance to stretch the legs of the new bus and we went sailing down the dual carriageway parts of the A47 with ease - I thought the B9 Geminis were fast, but this bus seemed even quicker. 
On arrival in the city, we had to manouevre the bus into the pedestrian area of Long Causeway, which involved some delicate shunting and reversing, all accomplished perfectly by Wayne despite the tight clearances. Rosemary suddenly became a traffic policewoman and managed to halt all the surrounding traffic for this to take place, an unenviable task in this busy part of the city, before arranging for the bollards to be lowered to allow us to progress. 
Mrs P sorts out the Peterborough traffic. Now how did that large camera appear in that tree  ?
The Peterborough public seemed just as interested as those elsewhere and there were various references made by them to the effect that 'First' would make a better job of running the local buses than Stagecoach. To be fair, I guess the dominant company in an area always comes in for some stick, not always justified. 
While we were here, the news filtered through that the 12.35 service to Lowestoft had not called at the rail station, but a prompt investigation revealed that it had needed to visit King's Lynn garage for a bulb to be replaced and by the time it reached Wisbech on the outward, the following service (Y13-XL19) had caught it up. It was because of this that the 12.35 missed the rail station, the next bus serving it instead. 







Richard and his new recruit to the King's Lynn maintenance team ! Frogs like water don't they ? Better put him in charge of the air-con.

Now what happens when you take a photo like this.......
Rosie, you are not smiling...........
Or this......













Gerard, your eyes are closed ..........
The answer is to do a bit of computer wizardry to come up with this ......


Shame that the bus now seems to have a kink in the floor, but at least we are both smiling with eyes open !
I decided to travel back from Queensgate on a scheduled service to save Wayne dropping me off at Walpole. This was the 16.15 departure (K19-XL06) with 33808. We were 6 minutes late from Queensgate and by coincidence caught up Wayne and 33811 returning to Lynn light. This resulted in the two buses following each other until we reached the Thorney bypass where the buses went their separate ways with much tooting of horns. Traffic between Guyhirn and Thorney was very slow and I actually fell asleep - told you the seats were comfy. 
Suddenly approaching Wisbech, the on board announcements came to life, in a queue, we were informed three times that we were approaching Wisbech bus station - the system was then confused by us retracing our steps out of Wisbech bus station, announcing that we were arriving again. After this though it righted itself and we were just 3 minutes late at Walpole. The new vix monitors in the driving cab are very clever and inform the driver how close to schedule the bus is running, without the need for them to check timetables or running boards. A very enjoyable day with a good positive atmosphere amongst all concerned, to whom I express my thanks. 
On the road, the delay I mentioned earlier with 33816 was still evident in a 19 minute late arrival in Lowestoft reports Malcolm. It left westbound 9 late. The Gemini's were working as follows today : 37572 K1-XL07, 37574 Y11-XL17 and 37577 K18-XL05. 37573 was out of traffic at Lynn with an adblue fault. 33423 is still at the temporary compound here and is expected to be repainted shortly, while 33803 managed to fail again today on K3-XL09, its place being taken by 33819. 
It is hoped to have 33822/3 ready for traffic tomorrow and 33817/24 are due for delivery now, again probably tomorrow. 33807 seems to have found an affinity for Great Yarmouth, it is spending its sixth consecutive night there tonight and has since Monday, worked Y13-XL19 every day. 33807/9/10/11 have now all been in action every day since the inaugural day of Enviro working, 30th September.

Now we return to the mystery (or not) of the appearance of that Norwich Gemini at Acle the other morning (see Tuesday's blog). John Hutchinson writes "I can report that Radio Norfolk's intrepid reporter Wally Webb was live on air at Acle on Tuesday morning, chatting to some 'disgruntled' passengers waiting for the 0723 and 0753 services, which are apparently rather crowded from Acle. It appears that the 0723 departed full (a saloon if I was listening correctly) and then, according to Wally, at 0749 a bus pulled up 'Not in service' and the driver then changed the screen to X1 Norwich; this is presumably the one that Graham refers to. One wonders if the company were listening to the broadcast (it was spread over quite a long period of the programme between 7 and 8) and decided to act positively. The recent re-jigging of Anglian services seems to be at the heart of Acle residents' gripes, but that rather got lost in the broadcast amongst the to-ing and fro-ing of the X1 excitement!"

Oh really ? Well here is the official explanation from a rapidly improving Des Speed : "The Norwich vehicle on X1 relief from Acle at approx 07.50 is supplied by Norwich in order to meet passenger levels. It is to run for at least the next month".
Now that doesn't really answer the question does it ? Was it as a result of Radio Norfolk's intervention, or something which had been pre-planned. 
Well I should have asked Norwich supremo Chris Speed today when I saw him, but completely forgot in all the Enviromania. I'm sure he will have something to say, so watch this space. Meanwhile, we will just, like the Acle-ites blame 'Anglian' !
Finally - what a long post this has been - we finish with a photo from Matthew Holland of one of our old B7 Geminis in use in its new environs in Stoke-on-Trent.
37156 outside Stoke-on-Trent railway station on 12th October. Photo copyright : Matthew Holland

15/10/2013

Tuesday 15th October 2013 ~ On Show

Firstly, a reminder that tomorrow is official launch day for the Enviro 400s in Lowestoft and Norwich. Two of the new buses are being prepared to go on show and it is likely that 33808 will be one of the two chosen.
The launch moves to King's Lynn and Peterborough on Thursday and I will be attending the Lynn event following a kind invitation from Chelsea De Silva at 'First'.
Timekeeping was fair today and the Enviros are now coping well with the schedules. 33803 continues to be a source of despair for the powers that be though and again had to be removed from K6-XL12 today for further attention. 33816 took over the turn. The remainder of the new fleet were on their best behaviour thankfully. Gemini 37564, although not in X1 use now, is undergoing attention at Vancouver Avenue, but 33423 looks to have left King's Lynn,
Grahame Bessey reports an unusual sight on an X1 short today when Norwich based B9 Gemini 36172 was noted at Acle heading for Norwich at 07.52, just ahead of the 07.53 to Peterborough.

Monday 14th October 2013 ~ Nearly There

Friday's delivery of 33822 -YX63 LKM and 33823 - YX63 LKN passed me by - the new vehicles were despatched to the temporary compound without me realising ! They were sent to Vancouver Avenue today for final checks to be made. This just leaves 33824 and the errant 33817 to complete the order. Out on the road for the first time today were 33819 on K3-XL09, 33820 on K17-XL04 and 33821 on K15-XL02.
Roy Northcott kindly sent me this picture of 33820 working for the first time today. Here it is on K17-XL04 10.30 Lowestoft - Peterborough. 

Roy's East Norfolk Bus Blog covers all the comings and goings in the Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas and can be found here :
Some of the new buses are being a little temperamental though. 33803 was in trouble just after leaving Lowestoft this afternoon, but under instruction from King's Lynn depot, the driver was able to continue and on arrival at Lynn, a newly repaired 33805 was able to relieve it on K6-XL12. Later 33808 suffered a broken mirror working L10-XL16 and 33810 off Y9-XL15 had to take over. 33813 has a problem with its lights so was not out today. 33814 which was removed from its turn at Yarmouth yesterday was pronounced fit to work this morning's Y7-XL13, but it came off at Lynn anyway as it was due a safety service.
The four remaining Geminis (37572/3/4/7) were all in action again today.
Some of you have again asked about the diagram numbers I use here in the blog, so here is the current M-F timetable with codes - click it to enlarge. Please note this does not include the X1 shorts.

Jamie Skinner says "It was not a good start to the week for me, the 07.00 Lowestoft - Norwich 'short' failed to appear, though not sure why and the following two Peterborough services were wedged with the maximum number of people standing all the way to Norwich. The first of these was delayed due to windscreen wiper issues". I suppose it shows that the services are still popular, even if today didn't live up to expectations.
The former X1 B7 Geminis are now active up in their new home in the Potteries, having spent a short time at Norwich.

14/10/2013

Sunday 13th October 2013 ~ Errors and Oddities

The new X1 bus diagrams have a few quirks which I have thus far failed to mention. Sunday is an interesting day because one has a bizarre turn which sees it work for just one hour ! I don't think this has happened yet and it may just be an 'on paper' exercise but on a Sunday lunchtime, an Enviro is booked to work a single round trip on the Lowestoft town service no. 101. Departing at 13.34, it is back at the bus station an hour later and retires to Gasworks Road depot. 
Another anomaly is that Yarmouth use an Enviro on a Sunday X1 short. It works the 12.47 to Norwich, returning at 13.50 and on arrival back at Yarmouth runs light to Lowestoft to work the 15.30 to Peterborough and 20.05 return to James Paget Hospital. I was reminded of this today when Zak Nelson (of Norwich Bus Page) kindly sent me a couple of pictures :
33807 was on the 13.50 Norwich - Yarmouth today (Sunday). Photo copyright : Zak Nelson /NBP
Looking like new, 37575 was also out on the X1 shorts today along with another former X1 Gemini, 37562. 

Photo copyright : Zak Nelson /NBP.
The weekday diagrams are not vastly different, but there have been some changes to the evening services. Whereas before, K14-XL01 & K16-XL03 finished at Lowestoft, both turns now come back to Lynn. Y13-XL19 does the opposite and is now a Yarmouth out and home turn, which could be very convenient as we will mention again shortly. K19-XL06 now terminates at Lowestoft instead of Lynn and the order of the last three buses into Lynn from the Coast which was formerly K15, K17 & K19 is now K16, K15 & K17. Note that K15 now has a longer layover in Lowestoft.
K14-XL01 is now an incredibly long diagram. It is booked off Vancouver Avenue garage at 05.20 to work the first eastbound service, the 05.30 to Lowestoft and comes back into Lynn on the last Peterborough, finally getting back to the garage at 00.34 ! That's over 19 hours with a maximum break of just 18 minutes.

Now though let's look at how things have gone over the weekend. Saturday passed off fairly well, although sadly reports of the first vandalism to a rear seat upstairs on an Enviro have surfaced. 33803 had a minor skirmish today, but not enough to take it off the road fortunately. Geminis 37566 & 37571 had their final day in traffic on Y7-XL13 and K3-XL09 respectively. The reason for them coming off the route is that 33820 & 33821 are due to replace them on Monday. 33819 has some minor issues, but will follow shortly. Some of the newer Geminis will be going straight into service with adverts fitted. 33819 & 33821 are amongst several which have been adorned with boards advertising Coke Zero and others have already received Subway ads like 33806 seen below.

On a more ominous note, the list of Enviro casualties increased on Sunday. 33814 had to be taken off XL04 at Great Yarmouth with an oil leak and 37574 replaced it. 33805 is still awaiting materials after Thursday's breakdown and 33813 requires an alternator belt. The tally of buses yet to be delivered is 33817, 33822-24. Depending on whether 33814 is repaired in time to do Y13-XL19 tomorrow or a replacement arrives from Lynn for the duty, it is just possible that a Gemini in the Yarmouth fleet (currently 37562, 37575/8) may be pressed into frontline service again As we have said Y13-XL19 is now a Yarmouth 'internal' carline and this is convenient if another vehicle has to be used. To finish off Sunday then, 37573 & 37577 were in service, together with 37574 as mentioned above. These three plus 37572 (spare at Lowestoft today) are now the only four B9s officially remaining available for the X1. Not previously reported here is that after an MOT last Thursday, 37565 was sent to Full Circle for repainting.
In the last blog, you may have noticed I touched on the registration LKD explaining its connection with buses from years ago. Well, I made a mistake, a great big boob actually, because I said that the LKD preserved by the ETC was OVF228 and it is of course OVF229 ! 
Syd says "Now fancy you getting a number wrong!  It is LKD229 that is preserved by the Eastern Transport Collection in Norwich, and it is often out and about.  I was lucky enough to be driving it at the North Norfolks 40 weekend, with my enthusiastic young conductor Daniel Peart (below)

 I passed my PSV driving test on sister LKD227, and actually conducted on 229 in service during the summer of 1970 when she was a temporary transfer to Lowestoft". Well blow me Syd, 227 was a Lynn bus for several years and a great favourite of mine - I think she went to Yarmouth before withdrawal. Syd continues "I just found this photo I took of LKD229 outside Lowestoft Railway Station in January 1971, with Driver Pascoe Rudd and Conductor Cyril Saunders, a bit more history.
She did spend most of her life in the west of the region allocated to Peterborough, only coming over to the east at the end of her working life.

Terrific stuff there Syd and you were not the only one to spot my error, an old friend of the X1 blog, John Wilson, says "Yes I am still about, and a regular reader of the X1 Blog. I expect you will have had many keen eyed readers telling you about the preserved LKD 229! As an older fella, I wonder why they did not give us LKH as a reg". Yes a real shame that John. The two new ones tomorrow are LKK (820) and LKL (821).
Final word this evening goes to Peter who says "Hi G,  Some great features on the new buses (I haven't been on one yet but hope to put that right on Friday). Loads of very good photos of the exteriors, but how about a feature article on the interiors?  This is the most important bit for passengers, after all!
My Mother-in-Law, Doreen, travelled back from Peterborough on the 1515 on Saturday and was "outraged" to see a teenager with her feet on the new leather seats.  She said "I was so angry about this that when I got off I said to her "do you do this at home?".  She says she didn't get an answer as she was "plugged into one of those music things" so probably didn't hear her.   Probably just as well, as the average teenager isn't above giving an 88 year old a mouthful or worse!"
Finally tonight, get well wishes to Des Speed who has been struck down with a nasty tummy bug at the end of his holiday. Hope to have you back on board with the new buses soon Des.

12/10/2013

Friday 11th October 2013 ~ Registrations and Dates !

33806 gets away from temporary traffic lights on Lynn Road in Wisbech working  Wednesday lunchtime's 13.25 to Lowestoft. Karen F is at the wheel.
There seems to be a real preoccupation with bus enthusiasts and registrations, even a race to predict those of forthcoming deliveries. I suppose I (of all people) should understand this. In the days when registration plates referred directly to the local authority/county of origin, I was every bit as bad - there was even a registration plate spotting book where you could go into waves of ecstacy if you ever spotted a car from Clackmannanshire or more locally, the holy grail, Rutland (I think that one was FP as the last two letters, I'm sure somebody reading this will know). Then there was dear old Great Yarmouth where the last two letters were EX, quite a disappointment to some of my school classmates when I divulged the fact that while you might well see a REX or VEX, you would certainly never see SEX as this was (understandably) not used.
Anyway, I digress and Sam over in Beccles asks about the latest arrivals. Well having seen 33819 I can confirm this one is YX63 LKJ while 33820 is presumably YX63 LKK because 33821 is YX63 LKL. 
My own personal favourite has to be 33815 which is YX63 LKD, the reason being that in the 1960s and early 1970s Eastern Counties ran a fleet of deckers classified LKDs which conveniently leads me to a bus 'joke' that 33815 was the first LKD to leave Lynn garage since 1971 ! Incidentally one of the older LKDs is OVF228 which is now preserved and kept in beautiful condition by its owners.
Talking of old buses, my friend Richard Adderson took a trip out by X1 today - here is his tale :
Hi Gerard
 Up till around 11.30 this morning, I was beginning to think that you were the perpetrator of the most elaborate scam of all time. Yes, in common with half the nation I was reading the X1 blog avidly on a daily basis and I thought it would be nice to go and see some of those new blue Enviros.  So on their second reported day in service I hung around Acle for a couple of hours, seeing 33423 and four Geminis. In fairness I thought I saw 33812 as well, but my camera misbehaved. In the absence of photographic evidence, I began to convince myself that I'd imagined it, a belief reinforced by the fact that during the next few days I must have seen half a dozen X1s in various places, all of them Gemini operated.
 I tried again this morning, and saw 37572 leaving Norwich on the 9.30 ex Lowestoft, followed shortly afterwards by the arrival of 33423 on the 8.05 ex Pboro. Still no blue Enviro. The rain was driving horizontally across the bus station, so I decided to have a ride to Yarmouth on 33423, and through the steamed-up and rain spattered tinted windows I thought I glimpsed a couple of what could have been Enviros, but couldn't be sure. Still unconvinced I got off at Yarmouth and visited the Oliver Twist pub for a pint of the resurrected Lacons. Too light for me tastewise, but inducing a comfortable feeling of well being which was enhanced by the arrival of 33810 on the 8.35 from Pboro, which I sampled to an equally rainswept Lowestoft.  At last I was convinced - they do exist after all! They're not a product of Gerard's imagination and photoshop skills!
 From then it was 37571 to Yarmouth (14.00 ex Lowestoft), so I'd travelled on all three types of bus in use on the route, and then 33812 back to Norwich (14.30 ex Lowestoft), passing 33806, 33804, 33808, 37577 (I think), 37573 and 33809 on successive eastbound services, all seemingly running pretty well to time.
 First impressions of the new buses were favourable - very comfortable and roomy and nicely lit. Can't comment on the "next stop" announcements, because there weren't any on either of the vehicles I sampled (teething troubles?). Unlike one of the bloggers I had no problem with the route display around the windows, it was no different to that which we've become used to on the branded Norwich Network buses.
 Not a day for photography, but I tried anyway - see attached. I shall send IMGP7515 to Yarmouth tourist board for consideration for the cover of their 2014 tourist guide!
Best wishes
Richard

Well here is IMGP7515 for our consideration :
In pouring rain, 37571 is seen at Yarmouth on K5-XL11 14.00 Lowestoft - Peterborough today. Photo copyright : Richard Adderson
Just after 12.45 at the JPH and no this is not an Enviro bendybus, Viewed from the comfort of 33810, 33816 is heading for Peterborough on K2-XL08. Photo copyright : RIchard Adderson.
37572 was back on one of its old regular turns today, K15-XL02. This is the first time since the Enviros entered service that K15 has been a Gemini. Richard asks "When will we see the back of the Geminis ?"
Photo copyright : Richard Adderson.
Well in answer to Richard's question, I can give a sort of answer but as for its accuracy ? It all depends on the reliability of the Enviros, however, it is currently planned that the remaining Geminis will be removed from traffic as follows :
37571 Sunday 13th
37566 Wednesday 16th
37572 Thursday 17th
37573 Friday 18th
37574 Saturday 19th
& 37577 Sunday 20th

These are dates planned by Richard Tucker, but it is possible that if sufficient Enviros are not available, some of these may be given a safety service instead and kept in traffic. At least it gives us an idea of when we might take 'last day' photographs, which is useful. 37569 left King's Lynn for repainting at Full Circle today and a look at the Norwich Bus Page reveals that the first two Yarmouth branded Geminis have arrived, 37575 & 37578 with pictures by Zak :

A couple of services ran around 15 minutes late today, but that was the worst it got through Wisbech. Despite Richard Adderson's observations on the X1, Malcolm Hicks says there was some disruption to the X2 timetable at Lowestoft. What was interesting in Malcolm's report was the use of 37568 on the 15.35 X2 to Norwich which appeared shortly after 34155 came in on the 14.40 arrival - a case of the new and the old there. 
Enviro news : 33805 which failed at Wisbech yesterday was off the road at Vancouver Avenue today with a DDA Interlock problem, also sidelined was 33813 which is awaiting a belt and one of the buses yet to enter service, 33819 is awaiting application of the new vinyls. This weekend will probably be the last chance to get plenty of Enviro pictures minus adverts as the studs have now been fitted to most of the fleet and it is expected that new campaigns will be in use from tomorrow.

11/10/2013

Thursday 10th October 2013 ~ Teething Problems

33813 departing from Lowestoft bus station on XL03-K16 10.00 to Peterborough on Wednesday . Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
Whilst there is no doubt that the punctuality issues of the first few days have ironed themselves out, the Enviro 400s are still having a few teething problems as one would probably expect.
Looking at Wednesday to begin, we actually find the only problem of the day was caused by the loan Enviro 33423. It suffered a fault at Thorney on K3-XL09 (its usual turn) and Gemini 37577 had to be sent out from King's Lynn as a replacement. Other happenings included the despatch of B7 Gemini 37157 to Norwich to join its sisters and the arrival of new Enviro 33819.
33423 was hastily made right again and was available to work the 10.10 Lynn - Peterborough replacing 33814. Later 33808 took over this turn. 33803 was being worked on over the pits at Vancouver Avenue.
Not sure if anyone would be silly enough to try and board a reversing bus, especially with the doors closed, but there you are ! Health and Safety info displayed on 33805 at Lowestoft on Wednesday. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

Thursday saw another failure when 33805 expired on the approaches to Wisbech at around 08.15. It was seen by Samantha awaiting assistance working K2-XL08 07.30 Peterborough - Lowestoft and for the second day running Thunderbird 37577 was called upon to take over from an Enviro.
33810 is now just short of passing the 4,000 miles mark and this morning was removed fom Y7-XL13 for a scheduled safety service. It was replaced by (what can so far be described as the 'black sheep' of the new fleet) 33803 and this seemed to behave itself taking the 11.31 King's Lynn - Lowestoft and 16.30 return.
Bruce espied 33820/21 at Vancouver Avenue at lunchtime having just arrived from Scarborough.
Ryan informs me that former X1 stalwart 37576 is due at Yarmouth any time now in its revised livery, it is currently at Volvo for attention.
Not all buses were viewed today, but only one service seemed to be delayed and that was L10 06.50 Lowestoft - Peterborough with 33814 which was 20 late departing Wisbech westbound at 11.08.

37574 on the 11.00 Lowestoft - Peterborough on Wednesday. Never thought I would say (or write) this, but I will really miss these Volvos which will probably be looked at in years to come with admiration for the sheer amount of miles they have covered in such a short space of time. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

Since Tuesday just five Geminis have been on the X1, 37566/571/2/3/4 have all been out daily. At least 33804/6/11 appeared in traffic today with new nearside ads for Subway breakfasts.
Now my good friend Peter Barclay up in Sunderland recently posted an interesting photo, probably answering the question, what would a single deck bus look like in the new X1 colours ? :
Photo copyright : Peter Barclay. http://www.flickr.com/photos/27204054@N07/

Well there's your answer I would say. I know from other comments made that a similar livery is in use elsewhere in England, but this is the X38 from Edinburgh to Falkirk and Stirling.
It is only a matter of time of course before the new buses acquire a nickname or two. When problems occur, these are probably unrepeatable, but some I've heard are "those buses which look like chocolate eclairs" , "Cadbury buses" and continuing the sweet theme, the advertising on the back has been described as in the same font as Walnut Whips and Blue Riband wafers ! Ryan calls them "those galactic spaceship buses".
Jamie Skinner has spotted a few minor issues with the upstairs scrolling stops info. "Today we were well on the way to Yarmouth on the Acle Straight and the message still read 'Next Stop Acle, The Street'" he says, continuing "The 12.00 Yarmouth - Norwich was still Olympian operated today". Roger Gooch comments "
As a regular user of the X1 route I feel that the new Enviro 400 buses do not have such a comfortable ride as the buses that they have replaced and I agree with the person who commented about the destination signage along the bottom of the upper deck windows which ruins the view, but  in all other respects a great improvement". 
Well I don't suppose you can please everyone, but the new fleet are certainly turning more than a few heads in Wisbech I can report.
Final word tonight has to go to Mrs Meldrew who has been in touch regarding the banning of the blogspot name on the wi-fi because it includes the term 'g spot' (see Tuesday's blog)  , she says ""If the fitters at Kings Lynn are all men, there's no point asking them where it is.... they won't be able to find it" and Victor adds "I don't know what she means" .  Honestly, what a pair they are !


33818 features rear advertising for the free Wi-Fi as shown here when seen in Great Yarmouth on Wednesday. Photo copyright : Joe L Watson.


09/10/2013

Tuesday 8th October 2013 ~ The New Look X2

Yes the X2 takes the headlines today, with newly repainted 37568 out on the road after a quick safety service. Our man Syd Eade was out and about and caught up with 568 as she prepared to work her first duty, the 14.55 to Norwich this afternoon :
Here she comes, 568 pulls into Lowestoft bus station from Gasworks Road depot. 
Well fancy meeting you here ? 37568 shows off its nifty paintwork to 37571 which was working Y7-XL13 15.00 to King's Lynn.
Geminis have worked on the X2 before of course, but only on an occasional basis and this stopped once Lowestoft lost their allocation. Here 37568 begins its first spin in its new paint scheme. Photographs copyright : Syd Eade.
Meanwhile, yet another B9, 37563 has left King's Lynn for repainting at Full Circle. 37566 & 37571/2/3/4 were still active on the X1 today. During the day, only two diagrams passed through Wisbech notably late. 37573 on L10-XL16 10.48 to Peterborough left at 11.07 and K15-XL02 with 33815 due away at 13.28 was 24 minutes late departing.
Damon Powell has spent a few days in the area sampling the X1 and here is his report and a selection of photographs :
"I’ve just got back after a weekend in the area sampling the new order of the X1 – very very impressed by what I experienced. I’ve not seen Enviro 400’s presented to such a high standard before, and the blue and gold livery especially suits them well. It’s a shame that adverts will shortly be applied to them though – it’ll somewhat undermine the smart appearance.

Wi-Fi is pretty reliable across most of the route – I was using my laptop most of the way – and quite fast too; and the air-con was very much appreciated on Monday once it got a bit warmer! The leather seats are comfortable and not too hard either, and I can confirm they’re comfortable enough to have a snooze on the boring bits of the A47!

The next stop announcements are useful, but there are a few faults with this system… It gets a little confused at various places, and the computer also can’t pronounce Swaffham! (Swarf-ham, anyone?) It’s quite ineffective on the all stops section around Dereham and Toftwood too and because there are two calls for each stop, we were well past some stops before it had finished announcing quite a few times.

My only other small gripe is with the destination screens… Is there really any need to have the ‘calling at’ and ‘then’ wording on the intermediate screen? I understand where First are going with it, but the lettering could be so much bolder and clearer if it wasn’t for that – and I’ve simulated what that would look like below!

Apart from those two little things - which I’m sure will be ironed out once things settle down - I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the buses, and the team who make it all happen. Keep up the good work! Oh, and, I reckon that should a human voice be provided for the next stop system, Gerard should be behind the mic…!"
Thanks Damon, but I definitely disagree with the last bit lol. Here are Damon's pictures :
On Saturday night, 37573 is at Norwich with K14-XL01 19.35 Yarmouth - Peterborough. I guess I will work out what happened on Saturday night sooner or later !

37571 on K18-XL05 06.45 Wisbech - Lowestoft heads along the Acle Straight on Monday morning 
33815 on the old concrete section of the A47 which follows the course of the old Lynn - Dereham railway , the 09.05 from Peterborough K5-XL11 is near Wendling.
33805 in Dereham Market Place working Monday's 11.35 from Peterborough.
At Dereham again, boarding for Lowestoft is 33807 on Y11-XL17 12.05 from Peterborough, until recently a B7 Gemini turn. Behind is the corresponding westbound service, the 12.30 from Lowestoft (K2-XL08) with 33809.


The rather packed destination blind advertising the connecting forward service no. 1 from Yarmouth to Lowestoft seen on 33811 forming the 18.20 eastbound departure (K4-XL10)
All photos copyright Damon Powell
In his report Damon mentions the wi-fi facility and Cheryl says " From Wikipedia :  Blocking of *.blogspot.com domains by keyword-based Internet filtering systems is encountered due to the domain containing the substring "gspot." 
May explain why the X1 blog is blocked on the buses. I cannot view any blog spot blogs"
Hmmm, well I'm not sure where the G Spot is on an Enviro Cheryl, I guess I will have to ask one of the fitters !!