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Wednesday December 18th 2013 ~ A Game of Chess

As I reported last night the Stagecoach buy out of Norfolk Green was officially confirmed around 7am this morning. It is all like a big game of chess really, I daresay 'First' probably knew when they allowed Norfolk Green to take the King's Lynn local and town services off their hands a couple of years back, that a future takeover would leave Stagecoach as the main contender. 
Runours had been rife for several months, firstly Go Ahead were said to have tabled an offer to enable them to expand their growing empire in the East, then 'First' were said to have offered £5m and now Stagecoach have jumped in with a bid allegedly in the region of £10m. Hopefully the X1 will remain with 'First', although the likelihood of a competing Stagecoach service would now seem inevitable.

Back on the route, the last week has passed off relatively well with just an odd A47 delay here and there. The leader in the mileage stakes for the Enviros is still 33809 and its already considerable tally was added to heavily last week when it did the 'long diagram' (K14-XL01) every day from Wednesday to Saturday. This stint alone would have amounted to another 1860 miles. 33809 has now completed 27,300 miles in traffic in under 3 months.
The 12th (Thursday last) was an interesting day for a number of reasons. Malcolm reports the following Lowestoft sightings : 33805 departing 17 late on the 09.30 to Peterborough (K15-XL02), 34155 on the 09.25 X2 from Norwich and coach 20515 on the 13.25 ex Norwich. Former X1 Gemini 37564 was noted for the first time and this worked the 15.15 X2 to Norwich. 
Over at King's Lynn, a driver shortage meant the 10.00 to Peterborough was cancelled and passengers had to wait for 33812 on Y11-XL17 , the 10.30 departure. At teatime, the 16.46 King's Lynn - Lowestoft didn't run for the same reason. 
Des reports an incident packed journey back eastbound : "I was driving the 17.25 South Gates to Yarmouth (K19-XL06). we had a full passenger loading following the cancellation of the 16.46 service. I then became aware of an RTA between Fair Green and Station Road at Middleton. A passenger phoned her husband to confirm the accident was not blocking the Station Road junction, so I turned round at the Fair Green turn and stopped in the layby before Hardwick to sort out passenger requirements. With the 16.46 not running there were several passengers for Middleton, East Winch and Narborough, so I diverted via the A149 and came into Middleton via Station Road. We were 49 late at East Winch and our Yarmouth arrival was at 20.19, 39 late.  I didn't pick up many passengers as I presume the bus behind diverted via A10 and leap frogged in front of me. As he was the 17.46 and the last Eastbound bus was at 16.11, he must have had a few passenger problems to put up with!!!"
Gosh and all that on Thursday 12th rather than Friday 13th !
 Friday itself was a calmer day and with few buses running late despite the heavy pre-Christmas traffic. Mind you, first thing the 07.30 from Peterborough, normally a banker for being on time was seen at Walsoken 14 late with 33807. Mid morning all was well until Y9-XL15 which passed me by with 33813 running 18 late. That was it though as regards delays until K3-XL09 16.20 from Lynn to Peterborough which 33803 operated running a similar 18 minutes late. At Lowestoft, Malcolm saw another new arrival on the X2, 37567 was working the 14.35 to Norwich. Heavy evening traffic resulted in the 13.30 Lowestoft - Peterborough arriving in King's Lynn 16 late and further congestion affected the 14.30 service which finally managed to get away from Lynn for Peterborough at 18.15, 25 minutes late. All this had been regained however, by the time King's Lynn was reached on the return.
37570 at Norwich with a Lowestoft bound X2 on Saturday. Unusually it is not sporting a T side advertisement, but it does have what appears to be a Christmas elf on the top front window ! Photo copyright : G Bessey
Taking advantage of the fine weather on Saturday, regular contributor Grahame Bessey has kindly sent us a gallery of pictures to brighten up the blog. He adds "very cold so it was off to The Bell for a couple of Pints of Woodfordes Bell Ringer to warm up, after a couple of hours with the camera!". Don't blame you Grahame, wish I'd been there to join you, rather than at work.
In glorious sunshine 33804 heads into Norwich bus station on Saturday working K5-XL11 09.05 from Peterborough. Note Mr. Claus is driving ! Photo : Grahame Bessey 

Another former X1 Gemini devoid of advertising but with a repositioned elf - he's now on a downstairs window ! 37573 in Great Yarmouth branded livery working an X1 short on Saturday. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

33821 captured by Grahame leaving Norwich for Peterborough on the 10.00 ex Lowestoft. 

Remember this bus ? Often used as an X1 loan vehicle in years gone by, 37562 now finds itself in the regular fleet based at Yarmouth and is here ready to work on a X1 short. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
33819 returned to traffic on 11th December following collision damage repairs, here Grahame snapped her departing westbound working the 11.30 ex Lowestoft with Mr Saban at the wheel. Thanks to Grahame for sending this selection of photographs to the blog.
Sunday was a quiet day as usual, but on Monday coach 20514 was seen out on X1 shorts again by Jamie Skinner - blimey just when you thought they had finished as well ! Two Enviro 400s were removed from traffic today which is very unusual. 33817 working Y11 07.15 from Lowestoft was in trouble on arrival at Peterborough and Lynn produced 33803 tp replace it on the 13.30 King's Lynn - Lowestoft. 33805 was also withdrawn temporarily after it had arrived in Lowestoft on K3-XL09 as it needed a new tyre. On Tuesday temporary lights between Toftwood and Dereham caused minor delays. Timekeeping on Tuesday and today (Wednesday) has been exceptionally good for the time of year. Finally 33806 has not worked since Friday due to a wiring problem.
I will try and produce another blog before Christmas, time permitting.

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