Monday 4th April 2016 ~ Who'd Run a Bus Service ?
March was a very trying month for the operators of the X1 service. After a relatively quiet period for incidents on the A47 and fleet problems, March certainly gave those in charge a headache !
On Wednesday 2nd the service ran well with the exception of the 12.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough which turned up at Wisbech 24 late with 33811 only ten minutes before the next bus, 33817. This was a reaction to an earlier incident at East Winch.
33813 had its MOT completed on 3rd and returned to traffic on 5th whereupon 33805 was stopped for the same reason and this was back at work on 10th just a few hours after MOT completion.
The evening of Sunday 6th saw two problems, firstly the 21.20 Peterborough - King's Lynn with 33811 suffered vandalism at Walton Highway when a window was broken. The bus eventually arrived in Lynn 35 minutes late. By coincidence at almost exactly the same time, 33809 failed at Honingham with a fuel problem on the 22.20 from Norwich and 33806 was sent out as replacement, although 33809 was resuscitated and got as far as Dereham, it was repaired at King's Lynn and managed to be back in service early next morning.
On Thursday 10th, 33803 finished its duty and limped into Vancouver Avenue after which it shut down and was unable to be moved, this happened at the garage's busiest time and a queue of buses developed until eventually 33803 responded to treatment ! It was subsequently grounded until 15th while the fault was established and rectified.
The morning of Friday 11th saw disruption on the Peterborough - Wisbech section after an accident at Eye Green. The 07.30 from Peterborough (33813) was 13 late from Wisbech and the next service due to depart at 08.55 arrived at 09.27 with 33812. Taking a double load of passengers the lateness had increased to 39 minutes at Walpole. The 08.35 from Peterborough ran 51 late and the 09.05 (33805) was 33 late into Wisbech. After this things quickly returned to normal.
Monday 14th saw 33805 taken out of traffic and replaced by 33814 after becoming noisy. After inspection 33805 was eventually towed to ZF Powertrain at Willenhall for attention to its back axle. It was seen being hauled along the Wisbech bypass by Bruce at 09.30 on 16th. Back to the 14th and 33816 hit a stray dog at Thorney while working the 15.15 from Peterborough. After inspection at King's Lynn 33816 was able to continue in traffic.
Another A47 accident on the Pullover Road west of Lynn caused delays on Thursday 17th. The 07.15 Swaffham - Peterborough (33812) left Wisbech 23 late as a result, but a swift turnaround at Peterborough saw it arrive back in Wisbech at 10.26, just a minute after its scheduled departure time eastbound. Other services seemed unaffected.
Late on the evening of 17th, 33804 failed just after leaving Peterborough with the 23.30 back to King's Lynn. Fitters attended and were able to get the bus back home. It had a fuel fault and was back in traffic two days later. By Sunday 20th, 33806 was stopped for MOT work and with 33805 still away at Powertrain, 33818 was summoned from Lowestoft to assist in keeping the passengers moving.
Monday 21st began with 33818 in action working the 07.15 Swaffham - Peterborough, however, this was not to be a good start to the week and a three vehicle accident near Thorney caused havoc with some services taking the Thorney to Whittlesey route to avoid the obstruction. After the 08.20 service to King's Lynn left Wisbech on time, the next eastbound X1 was 33808 at 09.45 and then 33803 at 09.58 and 33804 at 10.12. The latter had borne the brunt of the delays and was actually the delayed 08.55 departure ! 33818 came back 26 late and then the service got back to normal with 33811 at 11.27 (37 late) and followed by 33807 at 11.29 (9 late). All this had a chaotic effect on positioning of buses and drivers and it was amazing how the service returned to being punctual.
Thursday 24th was predictably busy being the day before the Easter holiday and during the afternoon an accident on Guyhirn Bank with a lorry and three cars affected the X1. The 14.54 Wisbech to Peterborough with 33807 departed 15 minutes late and left by its normal route, however, it did a U turn at Cromwell Road roundabout and by 15.32 it was back in Wisbech to take the diversion via Wisbech St. Mary Even more unusual was the route of 33815 on the 14.15 from Peterborough which ran via Wisbech St. Mary but then encountered a further blockage in Wisbech Old Market, enterprisingly the driver took the route over Town Bridge and took the tight left turn to resume the normal route past the Clarkson Memorial down Nene Quay. This is the first time I have seen this manoeuvre attempted !
The Easter holiday traffic had a detrimental effect on the timetable and on Good Friday Bruce reported the following :
10.05 ex Norwich 33815 11 late, 11.05 ex Norwich 33806 46 late, 12.05 ex Norwich 33811 24 late and 13.05 ex Norwich 33818 19 late. Going east the 11.05 from Peterborough was 33814 running 37 late, the 12.05 ex Peterborough was 33804 34 late and suggesting that 33806 terminated at Wisbech it returned on the 14.05 from Peterborough just 4 minutes late. All observations made near Walpole Highway.
Very unusually on Easter Sunday and Monday the same six buses were out on the road, these being 33804/10/11/13/15/17.
On 26th 33806 was stopped with an alternator problem but it was back in use on 30th, while 33805 arrived back on 31st and plans were made to return loan vehicle 33818 to Lowestoft, however, the best laid plans and all that. 33808 decided to play up. It was taken on a test run and lost all power on the A47 Tilney bypass. It was collected from this point and carted off to ZF having the gearbox drive plates problem. This is surprising as all the fleet have had remedial work carried out to prevent this. So 33818 is still with us as I write and 33809 is now being prepared for its MOT.
All this has rather overshadowed the announcement of the changes to the western section of the service taking place from 17th April. The opportunity to again provide a regular interval weekday evening service has again been passed over and instead the 20.20 departure from King's Lynn will now terminate at Wisbech, which sounds guaranteed to provide some fun. The evening departures from Peterborough will now be at 19.30, 20.30 and 22.30. The 22.30 departures from Norwich and Peterborough will be the last two arrivals in King's Lynn at around midnight. On Sundays the late evening service is completely withdrawn and the last two services into King's Lynn are the 20.05 from Peterborough and 20.20 from Norwich. The latter is the last arrival at King's Lynn at 21.46.
The new timetable can be downloaded here :