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Saturday 29th November 2008 ~ A Right Knees Up

Thanks to a change of arrangements, I had my first trip on a B9 Gemini this morning in order to get to Peterborough station for our NENTA York trip. I was the only passenger to venture upstairs on the 07.31 Wisbech - Peterborough K2 which departed a minute late with 37577. I decided to make a timing sheet and we were blessed with a clear road all the way. We only stopped to let single cars go when leaving the Horsefair and similarly at the Eye Green roundabout, so a better trip for this purpose would be almost impossible to imagine. We even went sailing through the Wisbech Tesco roadworks on green ! The driver seemed to have 577 at full throttle for most of the journey and the timings were :
Weasenham Lane 2'53" (booked 2'00")
Guyhirn Bus Stop 11'05" (booked 10'00")
Thorney Toll Bus Stop 15'21" (booked 15'00")
Thorney Bypass Rbt 1 17'41"
Thorney Fish & Chip Shop 21'05" (booked 22'00")
Thorney Bypass Rbt 2 22'30"
Eye Green Rbt 26'29"
Boongate Rbt 31'35"
Queensagte Arr 35'19" (booked 37'00")

Bearing in mind the ideal conditions on this occasion, it shows that prospects for making up time in the event of late running are almost zero. The driver said he preferred driving the B9s to the B10s as they were easier to manouevre in tight situations because they are shorter in length. My only gripe was the appalling lack of legroom. I was sitting upstairs at the front to enjoy the view (actually peering through the mist !) and found the only way to be comfortable was to sit sideways and effectively take up 2 seats. Sitting normally was very awkward and my knees were pressing firmly against the front of the bus and I am of average build, anyone taller or indeed chunkier than me would have great difficulty. For a long journey this would be unbearable. I was reminded of a journey to Norwich on VR391 (DAH391K) in around 1974 and came to the conclusion that things haven't changed much. The journey on the VR was perishing and the journey on the Gemini only marginally less so.
Other buses seen by me today were 37563 about 5 down leaving Wisbech on K3 07.09 to Lowestoft and later in the evening 37575 on K15 21.31 Wisbech - Peterborough. According to the board, Lynn despatched the following this morning :
K15 37570, K18 37565, K16 37574, K1 37568, K17 37572, K3 37563, K2 37577, K5 37576, K4 20353, K7 37571 and K6 37578.
I did glimpse 20353 arriving at Peterboro' station on K4, but whether it completed its turn is uncertain (see Sunday blog)
Bruce had a day of sighting services in my absence, but as he puts it 'had a poor day' , he reports
"To Peterborough

Y9 was a B10M near enough to time at 09.20
L12 was 6 late at 10.54 with 37579
Y14 was 24 late at 12.12 with a B10M
K15 was 23 late at 12.41 with a B9 bus
K16 was 17 late at 13.05 with a B9 bus
K17 was 2 late at 13.20 with a B9 bus
K18 was 18 late at 14.06 with a B9 bus
K3 was 15 late at 14.33 with a B9 bus

From Peterborough

Y8 was 8 late at 10.56 with 37573
Y9 was 3 late at 11.21 with a B10M believed to be 111 but going too fast to read the fleet number from the side.
J11 was 32 late at 12.50 with an unidentified B10M - I couldn't get down my ladder quick enough.
L12 was 29 late at 13.17 with 37579

And then it all went wrong!.

Because I was expecting a B10M, I didn't take my eyes off the road. The next bus to pass was 37575 at 14.28 (a 71 minute gap), followed by 37570 at 14.58. (But with Devon General TUO74J empty at 14.53 in between!)

Now I was out down the yard, washing the horse trailer and my bus roofs. The road was never out of my sight. Buses from Lynn crept up behind me but I reasoned I could catch them on the way back - fat chance! Where L13 and Y14 went, God (and KingsLynn) only knows - and J10 for that matter. I know I was still shivering 2 hours later, after I ceased observations at 14.58 !

I feel I have failed but the service from Peterborough went out of the window and my observations with it.

I just reiterate the point made to Gerard - 6 months ago, a late coach was the exception - now it is the rule.

P.S, Both the 20.18 (Y9) and the 21.18 (K20) to Lynn were B10Ms on Friday night.

Going to Gravesend tomorrow - Arriva territory - sensible people"

Yes Bruce, buses taking the A47 bypass were a rarity too in the old days, but of course, commonplace now. Well done for persevering anyway.

Friday 28th November 2008 ~ The Barbies versus the Barbars

Not a lot noted today by us here in the west. The weather was damp and dismal and fog took a while to lift. Undoubted highlight of the day was 20131 getting a trip to Peterborough on the X1 when it worked the 11.59 Lynn - P'bo and return (K15) before being taken off for further schools work. Its last X1 appearance had been on October 16th.
The other barbie liveried coach, 20127 was also in use today and was about 20 late leaving Wisbech on K1 07.48 ex Peterborough. It was then stepped down a turn at either Lowestoft or Lynn and ended up on K2 15.59 Lynn - Peterborough on which it passed Bruce 24 late. K16 09.25 Lowestoft - P'bo had 20121 which had been turned out by Lynn early on and it did the complete turn.
37572 was 33 late on K18 14.48 ex Peterborough this afternoon. Bruce paid a visit to Rowan Road, where a man was being subcontracted to insure that the Paragons are fit for further service before departure from FEC. 20508/9 are now ready to go and work has been ongoing on 20501 this week. 20114 remains o/s at Rowan Road along with 20120 at Vancouver Avenue.


Thursday 27th November 2008 ~ Still Showing !

Passed Gemini 37576 on K1 this morning on the way to work, it still has its advert on the drivers side. The driver stopped for a chat with 37568 on Y8 outside Bruce's abode, both services were running about 10 late. For most of the day, X1s took the alternative route westbound from Wisbech via the A1101 Churchill Road to join the bypass at Elme Hall. This rather inconveniently meant that I saw very few services. Bruce saw 20351 on J10 10.48 Peterboro' - Lft which was 24 late. L12 11.48 P-L was 20 late with 37575, but this had worked forward from Lynn at 10.29 as it had started the day on K20. Y14 08.25 from Lowestoft turned up with 20109 just 4 late but this was later taken off to do Hunstanton Schools turn 5 and this evening Y14 was 37579. At about 13.52 I was following 20121 on the 13.29 Lynn - Peterborough (K18) when we passed 20109 at Faulkners Tunnel, quite a nostalgic moment. K19 (the X2 turn) began with 20117, but this was swapped during the day and either 20103 or 20107 came in on it tonight (they were both at Rowan Road having arrived on X1s). No more B12 Paragons have departed, but 20508 is having MOT and 20501 is at Vancouver Avenue. 20500/2/3/6/8/9 were all at Rowan Road tonight along with 20114. The schools turns this afternoon were 20105/9/18 which were also all present as were 20351/2 as well as Geminis 37572/3. 65527 was present with slight collision damage. The garage contained 37563 & 37575 as well as 20120/501.
37577 on K5 15.48 ex Peterborough was 33 late through Walpole Highway tonight and the following K7 with 37574 was 22 minutes behind time. K20 17.17 Norwich - Peterborough was 20111 tonight and I can confirm that this turn still does a schools diagram from Gaywood Park to Gayton and East Winch before running light to Norwich each afternoon.
Advance apologies now as the next blog will probably be on Sunday. I am travelling to Norwich (by the X1 !!!) tomorrow night and I'm in York on Saturday.


Wednesday 26th November 2008 ~ Work and More Work

Yes been very busy at work the past few days so no opportunity for me to take up my viewing post whilst sorting out files.
My sightings for the day are as follows : 37576 on K1 07.48 ex Peterborough once again delayed by the badly phased traffic lights outside Wisbech Tescos, it was still in the bus station at 08.51 (departure due at 08.39). A Gemini which looked like 37571 leaving Wisbech 5 late on J10 10.01 to Peterborough, 37565 only one late on L13 11,31 Wisbech - P'bo (07.45 ex Lowestoft) - this was seen on X1 shuttles by Terence yesterday , 37564 on K17 13.31 Wisbech - Peterboro about 5 late and this was followed shortly after by Y14 going east as the 13.39 Wisbech - Lowestoft about 15 late with 37567. At 17.27 there was an unidentified Profile in Wisbech bus station (either on 17.01 to P'bo or 17.09 to Lft). 37568 was approaching the town at 17.35 on K6 17.31 to P'bo. My last sightings of the day were again both Geminis with 37578 on the 20.09 Wisbech - Lowestoft (Y9), just a few minutes behind schedule and finally - quite literally 37577 on the 22.31 Wisbech - P'bo (K15) running 10 late. Until recently this service has always been a very good timekeeper.
The rest of you were luckier with your sightings and Bruce saw 20109 just 5 late on J11 07.05 Gorleston - P'bo and 20127 along next on L12 07.15 from Lowestoft. Sam also saw 20109 on time at Norwich heading east and also seen on X1s were 37566 on K2 with King's Lynn on the front instead of Peterborough and 37575 (not 571) on what appeared to be J10 was just ahead of 20109.
20142 was seen in Norwich on service 13 ! Sam and Michael also update us on the X2. 20107 was on an early X2 on Monday but then went onto K19 and on Tuesday 20103 did K19, today it was 20121 and 103 and 107 were again on X2s. All the Royales have now appeared except 34109. It wasn't all good news with the latter as Sam says "34111 came off 007 contract onto X2 stinking to high heaven of curry - I've had to wash all my clothes from today. Saloon lights also kept going on and off one side at a time then alternating - was 15 late leaving Norwich and got overtaken by 34110 at Beccles".
Bruce had a Gemini moment this morning : "37573 went by to Lynn at 10.16 - not bad time keeping. Until 37578 went by to Lynn at 10.26 on K6 - 8 late! I reckon 37573 was 28 late on K4".

Tuesday 25th November 2008 ~ Bingo

Yes the advert referred to on 20104/127 is for Tombola/Bingo, so I don't know where I got a mobile phone company from. 20107 was out today on K16 13.01 Wisbech - Peterborough and like 20104 has had its Just Jobs Suffolk ad replaced by the aforementioned Bingo ad. Only other report of a Premiere today was 20111 on Y14 12.01 Wisbech - P'bo seen by Bruce. In total I only saw four X1s today, so there may well have been others out. The first westbound departure from Yarmouth (Y8) with 37565 was 15 late this morning due to an accident at East Winch.
Thanks to Andrew for confirming that Geminis are being used on Lynn schools turns as required.


Monday November 24th 2008 ~ Geminis Off Route

After yesterday's snow, today was a sunny winters day and 20104 made a fine sight storming over the A47 flyover near Walpole on L12 this lunchtime, dead on time too !

There are a few turns which take the B9 Geminis off the Lowestoft - Peterborough route which are of interest. There are two maintenance turns at Lynn, these being K6 which does the 07.59 to Peterborough, but beforehand is diagrammed to do a service 43 to North Wootton and back. Recently this turn has been a poor timekeeper and today for example 37565 was 30 late at Wisbech, unheard of in the old days. Y8 following with 37579 was 13 late. K20 turn as previously mentioned in this blog does a Lynn - Norwich commuter turn, then returns light to Lynn for maintenance before heading east empty again at about 15.45 to do the 19.19 Norwich - Peterborough. This turn also used to cover the West Winch schools turn at about 15.00, although it is unclear whether it still does this, but John W reports seeing 37576 at 14.35 in Lynn bus station today with 'contract' on the front. By 15.00 it had left, so it may have been used on schools after all. 20131 was also present to start with, but had also gone by 3pm. L13 turn finishes its X1 duties at Lynn at 22.37, but is then required to work the 23.00 service to Hunstanton. This is quite often a B10M as initially drivers expressed reservations about tree clearances in the Heacham area.

The vehicle on K19 turn is used on the X2 in the day, but this is normally a B10M, however, the evening part has been seen with Geminis. Y21 involves work on the Gorleston - Norwich X1 shuttles (not exactly off route, but worth mentioning) before working the 17.25 Lowestoft - Lynn.

No less than 5 B10Ms were noted west of Lynn today, these being 20117 on K2 08.18 Peterboro' - Lowestoft running on time, 20127 on J11 07.05 from Gorleston which was 10 late but only 5 late returning east, 20104 on time on L12 07.15 ex Lowestoft & 11.48 ex P'bo, 20111 on Y14 08.25 ex Lowestoft on which it must have come on at Lynn and 24 late past Bruce, presumably delayed by the late running incoming vehicle, plus finally 20109 on K18 10.25 ex Lowestoft almost on time. Sam saw 20103 running light on the X2 route, so this was believed to have done K19 while 20107 was also in service on the X2.

20109 only bore its 'Architects of Fashion' ad very briefly and is now devoid of such embellishments, meanwhile 20127 has two new side ads for Market Gates shopping centre (Gt Yarmouth) and another which I think is for a mobile phone network. The latter ad is also now on 20104 (see picture above) replacing the 'Just Jobs Suffolk' one which had been in situ for some time. Sam saw 20142 in Norwich today - it has not been back to Lynn since it began its rail replacement stint.

This afternoon 37570 was noted by Rob Brooks on the Wisbech bypass heading for P'bo on K3, perhaps why Bruce didn't note it passing ? Meanwhile another B9 off route was 37571 on K5 15.01 Wisbech to P'bo which left via the A1101 Churchill Road to join the A47 bypass, thus avoiding the Cromwell Road traffic lights. The contractors here are under severe pressure to complete the work here by the first week of December.

A final glimmer of hope was experienced this evening when Gemini 37577 passed through Walpole one minute before time on the 19.18 Peterborough - Lowestoft (Y9).

Sunday 23rd November 2008 ~ Snow and Roadworks

The old A47 at Walpole just after 10am today with not a white elephant in sight. Norfolk County Council's claim that a full gritting programme was achieved seems suspect ! (Photo by Brucey)

The provision of a new roundabout on the A47 at Honingham combined with wintry condieions for a time this morning was always going to make today's timetable a bit dodgy.

Bruce was on the ball though and noted 37579 passing his house at Walpole Highway 4 minutes early, no less, on the return of the first trip to Peterborough. Later 37579 came back an hour later than scheduled. Typically unimpressive it was 18 late going west and 19 late at Wisbech on the return 18.18 P'bo - Lowestoft. Before lunch delays of up to 45 minutes were noted, but in the afternoon these had reduced to about 20 mins on average. The 15.59 Lynn - P'bo did not appear so it may have been a cancellation. Later this evening, 37569 on the 18.59 Lynn - P'bo was halted at Wisbech, although only about 20 late and it then waited until 21.09 when it went back to Lowestoft. Quite why it failed to go through to its destination is unclear. 37570 on the next westbound service was noted refuelling at Vancouver Avenue, complete with passenger compliment at 20.23, shortly before it continued westbound approx 25 late.

After yesterday's late running 37563 made it back to Lynn on one of the after midnight arrivals and was at Rowan Road today. 37565 was spare at Lynn garage today while 37575 was over the pits alongside 20508/9. It would seem that today's service was entirely Gemini worked. There were six B10Ms at Rowan Road tonight, so prospects for appearances tomorrow would seem good. 20109 had 'X1 Lowestoft' on the front, so must have been taken off at some stage and 20118 off Y9 last night was also present.

Jim wrote today and on the subject of the B9s speed handicap wrote : "With reference to the new X1 Decker's always being late, I understand they were set at 50mph and now to 56mph, but my gut feeling still is being coach seated and seat belted they are the same as a double deck coach and can be set to 100kph which is 62mph. Now the B10m's are 9.6 litre and 12067kgs with a height of 3.2mtrs and they I understand can keep to time, while the B9's are 9.4 litres and are 12710kgs, OK so they are 700k's heavier, but it's that ole height thing against the wind that probably hampers these Gemies and at 56mph they are going to be late. I did work for a company that did tacho & speed limiters on all new /old vehicles and the 56mph is usually for lorries,even a little Enviro200 is set at 62mph so it may be worth Fec checking this out again, as the white elephants don't want to end up as a real white elephant as they say..
I would love to confirm this speed thing with my ole work mates,but,sadly the company were taken over,and then went out of business, due to the credit crunch last month. ". Interesting stuff Jim amd thanks for getting in touch. Seems odd that if they can be set to a 62mph max they haven't acted swiftly, but then may be we shouldn't be surprised. Imagine how things would be now if the 50mph setting was still in situ ! To begin with, I rather resented the gleaming Geminis, even though they were decked out with hard bus type seats, but now I'm beginning to feel a bit sorry for them as they are clearly NOT designed with long distance work in mind.


Saturday 22nd November 2008 ~ Disintegration !

Well day after day seems to go by and we have got into the habit of making excuses for the White Elephants. Roadworks at Wisbech and Dereham, A47 accidents, driver unfamiliarity, tacho issues etc etc. The fact remains though that they are simply not up to the job.
Jamie V was on 37563 with three drivers this afternoon and they all echoed what I've just said.
This morning began very well with 37575 exactly on time at Walton Highway on K1 07.48 P-L and indeed the following turn, K2 was actually 2 early passing me with 37574. Similarly Rob B saw K6 07.59 Lynn - Peterborough departing Wisbech 1 early (37577) and this was only 2 minutes late returning. 37564 on 08.48 P-L and 37579 on Y9 06.32 ex Yarmouth were both just 3 late, but then the service gradually deteriorated to the point whereby at 17.00 it was gridlocked at Honingham (this was forecast as a new roundabout was being installed) and King's Lynn were despatching buses to Peterborough as drivers and vehicles became available.

The eastbound afternoon services through Wisbech went as follows : L12 12.39 to Lowestoft 37571 exactly 30 late, L13 13.09 37568 -13, Y14 13.39 37578 -24, K15 14.09 37563 -28, K16 14.39 37572 -25, K17 15.09 37566 -37 ! and K18 15.39 37565 -13.
The 14.29 (K3) and 14.59 (K5) to Peterborough were not seen by me, but may have taken an alternative route out of Wisbech to avoid the roadworks. Next westbound service seen was 20117 at 15.42 and Jamie V had seen this departing Lynn, so presumably it was K7. Darkness then descended and a Fanta was seen heading east at 16.49 (K3 or K5 ??), however, despite me travelling home from work and expecting to catch it up, I never saw it again and came to the conclusion that it must have used the A47 bypass to get to Lynn. On the way home I passed 20121 on K4 16.29 Lynn - Peterborough running 15 late.
Jamie V was meanwhile esconced on 37563 on K15. It was already 30 late from King's Lynn before encountering the gridlock at Honingham and it eventually got through to Norwich at about 17.45, 82 minutes late ! An earlier snowfall in Norwich had also caused some delays, but the snow only appeared to be east of Hockering.
I retired from viewing when I got home, but will leave the final note to Rob Brooks who says : "20118 on Y9 1918 PB - LS depart Peterborough 1949. Currently on it thawing out!!!".
Isn't this mobile phone/email thingy wonderful ? An email straight from 118 !


Friday 21st November 2008 ~ Brainwashed

Today was strange for a number of reasons. To begin with I didn't see any X1s until a westbound B9 was glimpsed at 12.32 - take your pick, it was either K15, 2 minutes early passing me, or Y14, 28 late. John W saw an interesting swap at Lynn early on when 37574 arrived on Y9 06.32 from Yarmouth, only to be sent to the middle and replaced by 20105 off schools for the 08.59 departure to Peterborough. The next two westbound (J10 & J11) were 37568/9 and due to the formers late running were both in Lynn bus station together (sound familiar ?).
Bruce popped over to Lynn today too and saw 20352 arriving on K17 12.54 arrival from Lowestoft, but this was taken off and 37572 off K16 then ran in its place to Peterborough. This had begun the day on K16. As so often happens when services run late on X1, the process of laying over at Lynn was adopted today. Basically this involves the bus which began the day on K15, then going on to K16 and so on. The business with inserting 20105 at 08.59 seems to have started the ball rolling.
One might reasonably have expected 20352 to then become K18 (the 13.29 Lynn - P'bo) but for some reason this didn't happen and 20127 which had come in on K18 went through as allocated to Peterborough. Rob B reports it leaving the city 43 minutes late on the 14.48 to Gorleston and this had increased to 55 mins after passing through the roadworks at Wisbech !
The next westbound service involves a funny story which I hope you'll forgive me for including.
As some of you may know, I work at an opticians in Wisbech and over the last 4 years the staff have become quite used to me dashing out to photograph the occasional bus etc and some have become quite expert X1 spotters ! Imagine the scene this afternoon at about 14.50 when a nice lady from the Anglia Community Eye Service (ACES) paid us a visit. I quite literally chanced upon the following conversation between some of our staff and said visitor :
ACES Lady : I've just seen one of your buses at the traffic lights, it was 109 ! Do you think I got the right number ?
Suzanne : Oh yes, 109 is a regular one
Carol : Oh you know about the buses do you ? You should have seen the look my boyfriend gave me the first time he heard me say "Ooh there's 509", he knew I was mad then
Yvonne : I don't know which number you look at
Cheryl : Well there were one hundreds and five hundreds, but the five hundreds have finished now.
ACES Lady : I've seen some of the new ones as well, the double deckers
Cheryl : Oh the white elephants ? Oh yes, we're not interested in those.
Suzanne : Gerard, this lady has just seen 109
Me : Oh hello, which way was it going ?
ACES Lady : To Peterborough about 5 minutes ago.

Now I gather this must sound rather far fetched, but believe me it was quite surreal. I just stood there not believing what I was hearing. Not only did I not know the lady from ACES, I certainly wouldn't have put her down as a bus spotter. Turns out she is a friend of Suzanne's who'd told her about the bus thing !
Anyway the important thing for us was that she'd stumbled upon K3 10.55 from Lowestoft with 20109 which I otherwise would not have known about. 37567 which was on K3 stepped down to K5.
So what about the mating season ? Well today's contribution again involved K2 & K4 (see yesterday). At 17.07, 37575 was seen leaving Wisbech bus station for Peterborough 35 late on K2 being tailed not by another B9 but by 20105 on K4 making its second outing of the day to Peterborough.
Had a phone call from a very excited Judith tonight who'd seen three eastbound X1s in close succession when travelling from Lynn to Wisbech tonight, these were K1 with 37578 (thanks to Ian for the identification), K2 with 575 taking the A47 Tilney bypass in an attempt to make up time and of course 20105 on K4.
37566 has returned to service following accident damage and had an exam at Lynn on Wednesday. Today it worked K2 06.59 Lynn - P'bo before later getting swapped for 575.
Tonight 20103 came in to Lynn on what is thought to be L12 16.25 from Lowestoft, while 20121 did all of K19 diagram. L13 had 37571 at lunchtime, but 37577 came back from Lowestoft and was seen arriving at Lynn about 20 late at 20.14. It then went to the garage and 20121 looks to have done L13 forward to Peterborough.
Sam says "Saw 37564 around 15:45 with X1 Lowestoft (nothing unusual I hear you say) but it was coming through Trowse past County Hall and up Bracondale towards the City Centre (ie west bound) ideas?" Well it came in on Y21 tonight Sam which is the turn which comes off X1 Gorleston shuttles. Isn't there a service at about 15.52 from Norwich to Lowestoft which then does Y21 ? I will have to check the timetable.
Sam also saw 20107 on the X2 but with X20 on the blinds and there were appearances by 20117 and the aforementioned 20103 too, of which Sam says "it was changing gear like someone had put a manual transmission in it!"
The biggest news of the day I've kept until last and this involves the visit by Bruce today to Rowan Road. He explains : "Went to Rowan at 12.00 - 20500/1/2/3/4/6/7 present along with 20109/111/14/118/131/353. 20506 was under repair. At Vancouver Avenue garage, only 20120 and 65526 in an otherwise empty garage but 37579 leaving for uptown 'Sorry Not in service!' "(It was K20 Bruce).
After his visit to Tesco he says "Back at Rowan at 14.00 20507 gone and something else missing? Leaving Rowan at 14.09, met 20109 arriving with 6+ drivers on board (surely not all going to take it to Pbo ?? G). Got home to view video footage I'd taken and realised 20504 had disappeared as well as 20507 while I was shopping".
Well all very intriguing, so I went to investigate tonight. 20504/7 are indeed the first two B12s to leave for Scotland. The two absentees 20508/9 were both over the pits at Vancouver Avenue tonight. 508 had been to ARM at Setch for a chassis wash, but where 509 was when Bruce visited is not known. 20111/118/131 were the Hunstanton schools turns this afternoon. 20114/353 are both still at Rowan Road pending repairs.


Thursday 20th November 2008 ~ The Mating Game

There were more ridiculous events today involving the Gemini B9s. We have mentioned before about them being unable to recover lost time in anything other than perfect traffic conditions and today's sightings confirm this. Firstly as I left work I encountered 37574 arriving at Wisbech at 17.09 heading west with a twin 3756something attached, again not a car between them. These must have been K2 running 42 late and K4 a mere 12 late. Then this evening, by which time under the coach regime things would have been back to timetable, a similar occurrence was witnessed at Walsoken with 37576 on Y8 to King's Lynn being followed by 37568 on Y9 to Lowestoft running 35 and 5 late respectively. What impression this makes on the travelling public is open to debate, it must be a bit galling to have waited in excess of 30 minutes for your bus, to find two arriving at once.
Other white elephant displays today included 37573 on J11 11.18 Peterborough - Lowestoft running 23 late and at teatime K5 15.48 Peterborough to Yarmouth was yet again 28 late at Wisbech with 37563. I was surprised to see K18 10.25 Lowestoft to Peterborough with 37571 on time this afternoon. 37572 on L13 07.45 ex Lowestoft is believed to have taken the A47 bypass to Wisbech after which it was 13 minutes late.
B10s seen in service today were 20127 which Bruce saw running 2 late on J10 10.48 ex Peterboro' and 20121 on L12 07.15 ex Lowestoft and the 11.48 return on which latter service it was 3 early arriving at Wisbech.
John says "There is a warning of serious hold-ups on A 47 from Thursday 8 pm through to early Monday when the new roundabout at Honingham is joined up to the A47. Things should be normal with the new twister operative by Monday, but all are advised to steer clear of the area during the stated work period. 20131 (and 34921) on 41 today. 20109 on Bus station middle showing X1". John continues with an interesting observation......"Did you know this week marks the 3rd anniversary of the low floor decker on X1 ? -Do I mean 3 weeks........... No - 3 YEARS ! On 18/11/2005 a blue P&R B7TL 32481 (AU53 HJY) was seen by me leaving KL
for Peterborough at 11.29. Looked very nice too !" Yes I remember it well John, I was gutted when Judith phoned me about an hour after it had left Wisbech on Y14 heading back east on a beautiful sunny afternoon, asking me if we had a new fleet of buses ! Missed my photo opportunity.


Wednesday 19th November 2008 ~ Hit and Miss

The performance of the B9s seems to be very hit and miss. Today for example some services were excessively late, whilst others ran almost to time. Now despite intentions to the contrary, I will be reporting sightings of the white apparitions, simply because you all keep sending me reports !!

Noted this morning by our variety of correspondents were K1 07.48 Peterborough - Lowestoft (regular reports will be shared on this, as it's the bus I pass on the way to work !) with 37567 running 14 late out of Wisbech due to the roadworks on the approach. K6 with 37570 made up a little time having been seen 13 late going to Peterborough on the 07.59 westbound from Lynn (Cheryl). Y9 06.32 from Yarmouth was on time with an unidentified white elephant, but 37568 on J11 07.05 ex Gorleston was 20 late (Bruce) and this had increased to 32 minutes returning east. 37565 with the 'late lady driver' belied its chauffeur being only 3 late through Walpole en route back to Lowestoft on Y14 12.48 ex P'bo. Rob B saw it leaving Peterborough rail station 4 late so she had done quite well. Rob also saw the following K15 13.18 ex Peterborough with 37575 (for the second day in a row) departing 10 late. The next service, K16, was seen by me at Walpole (due 12.47) at 13.15 with 37573 so well down and with 20351 on K17 about 5 minutes behind. Afternoon Geminis seen were 37574 only 5 late westbound and 7 late returning on K3 10.55 ex Lowestoft and 15.18 return. 37578 scrutinised by Bruce at Lynn bus station before a belated departure as the 14.29 to Peterborough (K5) and with an obvious oil leak judging by the rear. I ended up following this home from work as it was 28 minutes late departing Wisbech and indeed the oil leakage was quite noticeable on the white bodywork. Sam saw 37576/7 at teatime in Norwich heading west and Michael confirmed Sam's sighting of a Gemini on the afternoon part of K19, it was 37569.

Enough white elephant talk, what of our old friends the B10Ms ? Well 20121 was seen by Bruce on L12 07.15 ex Lowestoft and was about 8 late returning at lunchtime. This evening on my way to a pool match I encountered 20111 on time heading for Lowestoft on Y9 19.18 ex Peterborough. Others seen today were 20103 on K19 this morning, yesterday it did the full turn, but today Sam says alarm bells were ringing throughout his journey with it, so little surprise that it was knocked out by a Gemini (see above). Today was a bonus day for B10s on the X2, 20104/07/11/17 were all seen by Michael and between him and Sam they saw all but one of the Volvo Royale Olympians on the route. John and Bruce both saw 20105 in Vancouver Avenue today, but it was fit for school work this afternoon when it was joined by 20127. John also saw 20509 and 34950 in the garage, the latter ex Lowestoft. Rob H saw 20104 in King's Lynn at around 17.45 so it obviously came west after a stint on the X2 like 20111.

Couldn't resist a bit of clowning about tonight...................

From tonight's Eastern Evening news

Local bus company 'First Eastern Counties' have today announced that their new fleet of double decker buses plying the X1 route between Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Norwich and King's Lynn are to be officially recognised as 'White Elephants'. Spokesperson Gussy Alamein said "At first we thought it was a bit of a joke, but the enthusiasts nickname has caught on big time with our staff and management, so we thought we'd acknowledge the new double deckers popularity by placing a motif of a white elephant on the back of each new bus"


Tuesday 18th November 2008 ~ His Own Personal Coach !

Sightings between us mustered only one B10 coach today, that being 20117 on L13 10.59 King's Lynn - Peterborough which was 8 late going west and on its return was Jamie R's own personal coach as he was the only passenger when it arrived at Wisbech. Despite the ongoing roadworks it was only 10 late as was 20351 which it met at Walpole on K17.
An accident near Acle closed the A47 for a while at lunchtime and K5 14.29 King's Lynn - Peterborough passed Bruce with Scania 65527, either because of the delay or maybe if it was a B10 this was required for schools. B7 20352 was seen at Wisbech 23 late on the 15.18 ex Peterborough this afternoon.
B9s seen today were 37578 12 late on K1 07.48 ex Pbo, 37576 10 late on J10 10.48 ex Pbo, 37575 only 3 late on K15 21.59 Lynn - P'bo, 37573 running 24 late on L13 19.59 Lynn - Pbo, but only 5 late returning, 37567 5 late on Y14 20.59 Lynn - Pbo, 37563 15 late on Y9 19.18 ex Pbo and finally 37572 which John saw arriving at Lynn this morning on Y8 at 08.18, as he says 6 early, but normal time when a coach !
John now reminds us of how things were just 11 years ago hereabouts :

November yesteryear………..Nov 1997
We might think this Peterboro-Lowestoft service has run forever -but a look back 11 years to November 1997 finds the then X94 service running Norwich - Kings Lynn -Peterborough only. At that time the Kings Lynn depot provided all the buses and all crews for the service.
Summer 1997 had seen a 5th B10 coach arrive to expand the X94, then virtually an hourly service in the daytime period. In November, Eastern Counties (not yet FEC !) were named as runners-up in the Bus Industry awards for marketing initiative for the X94 service. On 29th October, a 6th coach arrived in the shape of N619 APU. The former Thamesway Citysaver, having plodded along the Southend to London route since new, became ECOC fleet number 40, and was needed to meet further X94 timetable improvements which filled some last gaps to create the hourly service (Mons-Sats).
All did not run smoothly in the first week of the improved service, for on 6th November, a green Norwich Park and Ride liveried Leyland National Greenway arrived in Lynn as a substitute for a failed B10. The Greenway ( 667 - YFY 5M), was taken off service at Lynn, and replaced by Leyland Tiger 27 (F614 XWY). At that time the former East Anglian Hotel on Blackfriars Road/Portland Street was surrounded by scaffolding, and if cars were parked towards the end of Portland Street, that could make for a difficult turn for big buses. 27 managed to impale on the scaffolding, and could not be removed for several hours until the authorities had assessed the safety of the scaffolding. This caused major congestion in the Lynn one-way system, it also took out of service the first-line X94 replacement coach at a time when at least 2 of the 6 B10s were out of action. This caused the debut on X94 of Tiger 25 (CSV 524) from the Rosemary Coaches schools unit, while VR 229 (DEX 229T) was seen plodding through to Norwich.
Things can only get better ????


Monday 17th November 2008 ~ A New Dawn

20119 (N619APU) defies the odds and passes Walton Highway on K18 10.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough today

Well today is the last day of the X1 charts I have kept for over 4 years. All things have to end somewhere and although I intend to keep the blog for observations, my nightly visits to King's Lynn will henceforth become weekly. I've made a lot of friends there, so will keep in touch with them.

So to today then and it all seems rather odd now without the B12s and a brand new fleet supplemented by the dear old B10s. The B9 count reached a new high today with 16/17 noted in service, leaving just 37566 absent. The roadworks at Wisbech once again inflicted major delays on services and tonight 37567 on K1 16.48 Peterborough - Lowestoft was seen entering Wisbech on the A1101 Churchill Road 26 mins late in order to avoid the queues on Cromwell Road. Earlier in the day the average lateness was 20 minutes and 37577 was noted in service on L13 after a few days absence. Sam later saw this in Norwich bus station out of service and it appears to have changed here for 37578 which turned up this evening late on L13 19.59 Lynn - P'bo , being seen 16 late entering Lynn and then 24 late past Bruce at Walpole Highway. The X2 turn (K19) had 20126 to begin the day, but this replaced 20107 on K5 at Lowestoft and K19 continued with a Volvo Royale Olympian. Tonight though K19 was 37577 (see above). Sam and Michael both saw 20121 enjoying an outing on the X2 today. Meanwhile resuscitated 20119 was out on K18 and from the Lowestoft end 20117 came out on K16 in place of 37565. 20103 was due to do Y21 tonight, while KL schools turns were 20131/104/105.

20114 was being repaired in VA tonight , while 20118 and 20351/3 were at Rowan Road.

Plenty of emails from you all today, Sam says "Well I did make a joke to someone about all 17 lining up together to get into a bus station... well today I had 5! At around 15.30 in Norwich bus station 37577/8 appeared to be going east, though 37577 was dead, while another unidentified, was departing for Lowestoft. Peterborough bound were 37572 and 37565, whilst a ghostly apparition again unidentified was K19" (I think this was 37577 Sam). Nevertheless as Sam says this was a veritable 'Herd of White Elephants' !

John says "Today I arrived at Lynn Bus Station at 09.35. The 0929 to Pbo (J10) , 37564, was on the stand with through pax locked in and no driver. 20 or so prospective pax were waiting to board. I joined them and like them wished the "realtime" (?) displays would give info re delays. At 09.38 a couple of drivers turned up and we boarded, leaving at 09.45. There was talk on the bus that driver had been late in, and our delay was him finishing his break. I rode to Wisbech and seats were OK by me. Returned on 09.48 ex Pbo (37573) which was a bit over 20 late. Full load (no-one pays). 573 then left Lynn at 11.40, so 28 late.
Found it near impossible to identify buses encountered en-route - worse than on a coach !" Please keep your observations/experiences flowing in, we all enjoy reading about them. B10 sightings from now on will probably form the backbone of this blog, though surely their days are numbered ?


Sunday November 16th 2008 ~ Part Time Blog

As I previously intimated, I am now running down this blog and after tomorrow, I will only be using it to report any notable observations, for example B10 workings and any excessive late running/incidents. Don't forget whilst the blog has only been going since July, I've been doing all this for 4 years now !!
A fine afternoon saw me make a trip over to Lynn. Vancouver Avenue garage was locked up as usual but contained 20118/120 plus five white elephants in the shape of 37567/571/2/4/6. At Rowan Road were 37575 and 20351/3 along with 20105/14/19/31 and the nine Paragons. 20119 came in last night after a three month absence on the X1 route. 20500 had as reported yesterday returned from Norwich/Ipswich rail replacement work - thanks very much to Sam for this information.
On the X1, the potential for a completely B9 worked service was there, but in action were 20104/07/26 along with six Geminis, including 37564 off repairs.

Saturday 15th November 2008 ~ A Few Observations

With a friend staying today, my observations were very limited. Cheryl spotted Gemini 37570 this morning on J11 which on Saturdays begins and ends at Yarmouth/Lowestoft. The football made this turn late to tonight and it was about 28 late heading to Peterborough compared to the usual 10-15 when a coach. Y9 is the only weekday turn which begins and ends at Lowestoft and the same applies on Saturdays, today it was 37563 which may mean it at last gets a day off on Sunday. Saturday's Y9 is normally idle at Lowestoft on Sunday. 37573 was stopped for a service at Lynn today and 37564 was also undergoing repair plus servicing. Michael saw 37577 at Lowestoft depot today, it has not worked since Tuesday. 20119 was ready to work and 20117/24 were undergoing maintenance there.
Profile 20351 was failed at Thorney tonight at 17.15 after its lights failed and a fitter had to attend. Meanwhile 20352 replaced a Gemini on J10 today and somewhere along the line 37579 on K5 was replaced by 20127 which was seen on time on the 16.39 Wisbech - Yarmouth.
20141/142 & (shocks) 20500 were utilised on rail replacement work today.
Bruce saw 20111 at Walpole this morning - he couldn't decide whether it was 26 late on the 08.48 ex P'bo (K4) or 4 early on the following 09.18 (K6). In any event, this evening it was on K6 when seen running about 10 late at Terrington. Another B10 out today was 20104 on L12.


Thoughts from Bruce

Bruce has had a hatful of the X1 this week, so read on.........

Today I am going to Tesco where the trolleys are my friends and park in rows and are never late and don't have fleet numbers. The X1 does that to you.

Then I am going to the bottom of the paddocks to play with the other pixies and elves and if the big bad White Elephants come looking for us, we will hide in the dyke until they have all gone away. Even when they come in pairs, like they do sometimes.(On Saturday nights do they dance round their handbags and go to the loo in pairs as well?) The X1 does that to you.

Well I was a bit worried for Bruce after reading that, but tonight he says :
Sitting in bed in the new bedroom watching Sky last night, a strange white light kept filling the bedroom at 18 minutes past the hour each hour. Looking up the village and expecting to see Santa on his Round Table practice run, I saw a ghostly white apparition lit up like a Christmas Tree and heading towards Lynn through the mist and rain each time. No people were to be seen - a veritable Marie Celeste proceeding down the old A47! Have I found a ghost from times long ago, searching for a last passenger? Why does it always pass by at 18 minutes past the hour? Where does it go after 00.18 - does it have other roads to haunt?

Tonight I am hiding under the duvet until it passes!

Oh well Bruce, maybe 20107 will be out tomorrow and sanity will return.


Friday 14th November 2008 ~ It's All Over - Well Almost

Well I guess I've now acheived the object of this blog, i.e. to document the introduction of the new fleet of X1 Geminis. With a handful of B10s left to help out and all the B12s now temporarily retired, I hope we can continue to report when possible unlikely events.
So to Friday's report and today the combination of Wisbech roadworks and FST resulted in some pretty heavy delays. 20105 on L13 was on time from Wisbech at 11.31, but was 48 late returning, while the following two services avoided passing me at work presumably by taking the western end of the Wisbech bypass. Next eastbound past me was 20104 on K16 running 35 late and followed 6 minutes later by 20111 on K17. 47 minutes then elapsed before 37569 went east on K18 and a further 18 minutes before 37576 (complete with side advert) on K3 at 16.21 (only 17 late). The afternoon part of K20 had a Gemini for the first time today in the shape of 37574.
Apparently L13 19.59 Lynn - Peterborough is likely to remain a B10 working for a while as drivers seem uncertain as to whether Geminis are suitable for working the 23.00 Lynn - Hunstanton due to obstacles (trees I guess) in the Heacham region.
In addition to the nine Paragons stored at Rowan Road, 20114/127 are also out of service there as well as 20120 still dumped at Vancouver Avenue.


Thursday 13th November 2008 ~ My Bus Was On Time ! (err 30 mins late actually)

Well the advantage of running a half hourly service is that when things get behind by 30 minutes, nobody notices - except US of course ! Well we do our best, but Bruce, Rob B and myself were all caught out by this today.
Piecing together reports from Jamie R, Bruce, Rob B and John W it has been possible to work out what happened. Temporary three way traffic lights outside Wisbech Tesco were responsible for the delays from an early hour. Jamie saw 20107 nipping through Eye Village to avoid congestion on K2 08.18 ex Peterborough a few minutes after witnessing 20352 heading into the City also running late. By the time Bruce saw 20352 returning it was 25 late. John W arrived at Lynn bus station at 10.30 and saw the Profile unloading and then retiring to the middle. Unbeknown to all of us, 20107 on K2 had lost more time and Lynn had sent 20109 out to Lowestoft at 09.42 and then 20107 (now as K4) at 10.12. John says 20117 (which had in fact done K20 to Norwich and returned light) then left as K6 10.42. Meanwhile 37574 which had arrived about 10 late on L12 and which was due to depart for Peterborough at 10.29, failed with a diesel leak and 20352 then went back west in place of it. 37572 which eventually arrived on K6 about 25 late was stepped up to become Y8 11.12 to Lowestoft. The incoming Y8 itself was well late with 37571 and this set the pattern for the day.
Identifying the new buses can be a problem, as even though the numbers are quite big, when travelling at speed they can blur into the white paintwork. 37568 did K1 this morning and Bruce swore it also did J11, although other sources say this was 37567. Whatever did it, it was not seen returning from Peterborough by Bruce or myself. Identification might become a bit easier if what I saw tonight is going to be the norm. 37576 was in the process of having a large advert fitted for the new James Bond film called 'Quantum of Solace' whilst parked in Vancouver Avenue. This of course has been fitted over the route destinations as some people predicted would happen ! 576 had come off Y9 and the 17.59 to Peterborough was good old 20105.

Speaking to Bruce at lunchtime, we were mystified by the non-appearance of the 11.29 Lynn - Peterborough. The 10.59 (L13) with 37569 was only 9 late and K15 11.59 was only 6 late with 37573. That was until we realised that 573 was actually Y14 running 36 late ! As a result 37563 on the 11.59 was (we think, unless you know different) held at Lynn until its afternoon departure to Lowestoft. There were 10 consecutive Gemini worked turns commencing with the 10.59 Lynn - P'bo, broken by 20109 on K2 15.59. Timekeeping thanks to the Tesco roadworks was a mess, with 37570 on K3 13.59 Lynn - Peterborough being 7 late on the outward and 32 late returning, following this we had 37579 on K5 which saw its 4 minutes late increase to 28 by the time it left for Yarmouth at 17.07.
The mystery of 20500's disappearance yesterday remains just that after it reappeared at Rowan Road today. B10 20121 which came in on Y21 last night did K19, the X2 turn throughout today.
Our Yarmouth correspondent says that 20123 has now arrived from Lowestoft for MOT and 20111 was there last night also. Apparently all three overnighting Geminis had arrived at the depot with yellow 'low fuel' lights flashing.
B9s not seen in service today were 37566 (collision), 37564 (o/s at Rowan Road) and 37577, with the remaining 14 in traffic.


Wednesday 12th November 2008 ~ White Elephant Charge

Today the Gemini B9s took over in full force. Profile 20352 was unusually provided for the K15 05.42 Lynn - Lowestoft and K19 & K20 (the X2 and Norwich commuter return empty turns) had 20126 and 20114. Apart from these the first non Gemini eastbound service was at 12.42 with 20105 on J11.
37575/6 completed the B9s into service today, but 37566/69/77 were not seen through Lynn. J11 with 20105 had been seen by Bruce on time at Eye heading west, but A47 shenanighans made it exactly 30 late returning. The novelty of thirteen consecutive Geminis heading from Lynn to the coast was then broken big time with a succession of old faithfuls, these being 20105 (J11), 20118 -17 on L12, 20103 -5 on L13 and 20104 -18 on Y14. Bruce was out filming these at lunchtime.
At this stage it looks like the entire fleet of B12s were idle today, 20501/4 having joined the others at Rowan Road but this evening 20500 was absent, so it has either left for First Essex or been required as a last minute X1 substitute. White Elephant 37564 was taken out of service today at some point, so it is just possible that 20500 replaced it.
Speaking of the B9s, there was a farce this afternoon when Bruce viewed K1 and K2 following each other, the former 30 late of course. 'There wasn't a cars width between them' says Bruce and I can confirm this, as on leaving Wisbech at 16.31 they arrived outside my window at the traffic lights in the mating position ! 37578/6 were the buses involved and both were carrying passengers. Earlier this morning Bruce (who had a busy day) saw 37571 on K4 running late at the eastern end of Thorney bypass and then 37575 following at the western end. 37578 has had its destination display changed to a different 'fatter' font and others have been noted elsewhere like this.
20107/114 were out on the Hunstanton route today in addition to 20126/131 on schools runs.


Tuesday 11th November 2008 ~ 13 Years Of Progress ?

20504 leaving Wisbech as the 12.01 to Peterborough today.
Firstly an apology to Sam & Co. for missing out of yesterday's blog the big news that 37568 managed to break new ground for the B9s by working the afternoon leg of K19 Lowestoft to Norwich via Beccles. This had started with 20104 but swaps at Lowestoft caused by the late running of K6 saw 20104 replace a Gemini on this and the decker off K1 (568) went on to the X2 turn.

Today 37571 was seen for the first time since attention at Volvo. It was at Lynn tonight alongside 37575/6 which are still awaiting paperwork. As 37566 was not seen today, it is assumed to be undergoing collision repairs. 37578/9 were new on the road today and the Gemini quotia in X1 service was noted as 12 with only 37569 of those available not being seen. Bodywork on the new B9s seems to be poor with 37577 having window leaks and 37563 same on the lower deck floor in addition to those previously mentioned.

20501 had a traumatic time last night as you may have seen from the message left by Des, failing on the Acle straight with a recurrence of its air loss problem. It had to be towed into Caister Road, but had nevertheless been repaired by today and was on Y21 tonight seen arriving at Lynn at 20.20. 20500 was certainly moved today and was seen by Jamie V in the bus station at King's Lynn at teatime, it may have helped on schools. The other Paragon still available for X1 duty is 20504 and this did Y14 today. Time will tell whether its outing to Peterborough tonight on the 20.59 ex Lynn is the final visit by a B12 to that location. Of the stored B12s 20506/8 are delicensed and 20502/9 unfit for service. They were joined by 20127 today which has a door fault. 20353 was in trouble again early this evening with power loss and was also at Rowan Road when Jamie V and myself paid a visit tonight.

John W saw 37573 on Y9 08.59 to P'bo being swapped for 20118, a mere 13 years its senior this morning at Lynn while 20105 was out on Hunstanton services all day. Other B10s out today were 20103/4/7/9/14/17/26. Strangely 20126 on K5 which ends up at Lowestoft was swapped during the day for 20109 and 126 did Hunstanton schools this afternoon.

Grahame B reports 20119 back on the road at Yarmouth today where it was being used on the 1s. It was last in X1 use on August 2nd !! He also saw 20111 on the Gorleston - Norwich shuttles.


Monday 10th November 2008 ~ Paragons - The Last Rites

Seen between two of their replacements are 20502/6/8/9. Will we see their like again on the X1 ?
20507/500/503 line up at Rowan Road tonight having been retired from the X1

The day began with the rather sad withdrawal from service of two excellent buses, 20502 & 20503. This being facilitated by the quick entry into service of 37570 (K18), 37572 (K4), 37574 (K2) and 37577 (K6). In addition to which this evening, 37578/9 were both new arrivals at Vancouver Avenue along with untaxed 37575/6 at Rowan Road. The latter complete the delivery of the X1 batch, but 37571 is still under repair at Volvo and 37566 had disappeared from Rowan Road tonight - either a hurried entry into service this afternoon or away having its bumper etc repaired.

On the B12 Paragon front, only 20501/04 remain in active service - the latter did K5 today while 20501 remained at Lowestoft. The only other B12 not in store at Rowan Road is 20505 which is still under repair at Volvo, believed to be a compressor failure.
If 20501/4 return west tomorrow, it would seem likely that they will be retired after that, so have your cameras ready for a final fling on Tuesday !
37577's entry into service today was a bit of an embarassment when it left Wisbech 30 late on the 08.31 to Peterborough being shadowed 5 minutes behind by 20117 on Y8. It is not known how it lost so much time but it is doubtful that the B9 was at fault. Other B9s were keeping time quite well today, notably 37573 on K16 and this evening 37563 on K15. There were eleven B9s seen in service today and if 37566 (see above) worked too that would make the figure 12.
As usual the trusty B10s were keeping their part of the bargain with 20103/4/5/7/11/14/17/26/27 all noted on the X1 today. The Hunstanton schools turns were covered by 20118/131 and 65532, while 20109 was on mainstream Hunstanton services. 20126 on Y14 was 28 late returning from Peterborough on the 12.48 to Lowestoft, but had regained all its lost time by this evening. Services were delayed between Wisbech and Peterborough today and average lateness going west was 10 minutes but double this returning east.


Sunday 9th November 2008 ~ White Elephants

20500/07 line up alongside four of their successors during a monsoon tonight !
Not surprisingly the B9 Geminis have acquired a few nicknames from enthusiasts. White Elephants or Phantoms are two of the more repeatable examples. Reports from other parts of the country don't give cause for much optimism with oil and water leaks commonplace and frequent top ups of adblu necessary. Some examples elsewhere have had fans disintegrate and Volvo have been called in to perform warranty work. 37563 has now been out every day since it began work on the X1 on October 23rd.

There was a welcome reappearance of B10 20127 today after 12 days absence. 20104, 20501/4 were other coaches out. Thanks very much to Bruce for his observations today while I was away in Bradford.

Saturday 8th November 2008 ~ A Grand Night Out

Most unusual event today was this evening when a local social club hired out 20501 for an excursion. It was being cleaned thoroughly at Vancouver Avenue this afternoon in preparation and had 'Private Hire' on the destination indicators. May be the hirers had heard it will be on its way shortly and wanted a last run for old times sake lol.

I didn't see all the X1 turns today so what came out of Lowestoft and Yarmouth this morning is not completely clear. 20506 certainly did but was removed at Lynn on its way back to Lowestoft and placed into storage at Rowan Road prior to reallocation. 20107 looks to have replaced it. This afternoon I encountered 37563 running 29 late on K7 (14.59 Lynn - Peterborough) and this was followed about 2 minutes behind by 20103 on K1.
Geminis 37570/2/4/7 were all at Rowan Road today and should be in service on Monday when a further 4 are scheduled to arrive. Registrations of those at the compound are AU58 ECT/ECW/ECY and EDF.
Lynn sent out the following this morning on the X1 : 37563/8/9/73, 20502/04 , 20103/04/17 and 20351/352.


Friday 7th November 2008 ~ An Old Fashioned Friday

Yes just like old times today, very few swaps and a dose of FST (Friday Standard Time) to make us feel at home.
Firstly though, news of more new arrivals at King's Lynn. The Gemini population increased today with 37570/72/74/77 all present this evening. Bruce had viewed two of them early this afternoon and he also noted 37566 undergoing inspection at Rowan Road prior to collision damage being repaired. No sign of the return of 37571 from Volvo as yet and Graham B reported 37573 at Caister Road garage in Yarmouth for much of the day. King's Lynn carried out the first scheduled service on 37563 yesterday. There was a bit of a rumpus two nights ago when the advertising chaps arrived at Lynn and were about to decorate a couple of Geminis when it was pointed out that this would obscure the route branding ! Something which might come in handy when the deckers move on.
Two of the 'stored' Paragons were called upon this evening as Lynn were short to cover Hunstanton schools after 20141/42 had gone away for rail replacement duty, 20500/08 were used this afternoon along with regular 20131.
On the X1, 20126 returned to Yarmouth last night and today 20117 came out instead (Y14). K5 began today with 20111, but this was changed at Lowestoft for 20121 which has been absent from the route since 22nd October and was not expected to return to traffic prior to moving to Edinburgh. 121 was 29 late at Wisbech this afternoon (due to depart for Peterborough at 15.01). Other Premieres appearing today were 20103 (K19 X2 diagram), 20104 (J10), 20105 (K20b), 20107 (Y8), 20109 (K20a) and 20118 (K6). in addition 20127 was allocated to Y21 17.25 ex Lowestoft, but 37573 seemed a more obvious choice.
20353 was undergoing repairs to a wiring fault in Vancouver Avenue tonight. One thing I failed to mention yesterday was 20111 putting in an excellent days work on L13. On time from Wisbech at 11.31 to Peterborough, 4 minutes early (yes really !) past Bruce returning to Lowestoft and dead on time departing on the 19.59 Lynn - Peterborough. I also have info regarding 20104 which is too sensitive even to divulge here, suffice to say that it has not been late this week !!


Thursday 6th November 2008 ~ Movements Imminent

The first B12 Paragons to move to pastures new would seem to be 20500/07/08/09 as all were marked 'not to be used ' this evening and were residing at Rowan Road. 20500 finished X1 work at Lynn last night as the 23.37 arrival from Peterborough, 20507 returned from Norwich today (34903 believed to have gone the other way), 20508 did K4 07.29 Lynn - Peterborough and 08.48 Peterborough - Lowestoft as far as Lynn today where John W viewed it in the bus station centre, to use John's own words 'looking forlorn'. 37567 replaced it. 20509 last worked on Monday morning. If as looks likely these are the final workings of the four at FEC, they will owe 'First' very little.
20141/142 are due to be used for rail replacement work this weekend (Chelmsford ?).
Meanwhile the three expected Geminis + repaired 37571's move back to Lynn were postponed for a day. The disruption to booked turns is partly because some drivers don't have digital tacho cards yet and this can cause unscheduled swaps. B7 20353 was out of service today with an electrical fault, while 20141 was being repaired at Vancouver Avenue.
Once again the X1 service was in disarray at lunchtime. Successive westbound departures from Wisbech went thus : L13 11.29 20111 right time, Y14 12.01 20502 -6, K15 12.31 20504 -15, K16 13.01 20352 -30 ! The 'late' lady driver was in charge of 20352 and made efforts to regain some time, being 21 late past Bruce on its return.
The undoubted 'highlight' of the day, if indeed it can be called that was the use of Scania 65527 on the 12.59 Lynn - Peterborough (K17). Quite incredible with the amount of coaches at Lynn, but with 20500/7/8/9 sidelined and 20107/31/42 earmarked for later schools turns, resources were stretched. Whether 20352 on K17 was running very late or had a fault is unknown, but it appears to have been Ok to relieve 65527 at 15.42. At the other end of the scale, today seemed to pass without a Gemini debacle. K6 departing 13 late from Lynn to the coast with 37565 as witnessed by John seemed about the worst timekeeper.
B12s in service today were 20501 (on K19 X2 turn - how the mighty are fallen !), 20502/3/4/6 and B10s 20103/104/105/107 (did 16.59 Lynn - P'bo etc after schools), 109/111/126. The seven serviceable Geminis were again all in traffic.


Wednesday 5th November 2008 ~ Buses Buses Everywhere !

King's Lynn has become a bus spotters paradise lately with loans, wiithdrawn and blown up vehicles, those awaiting transfer to new homes and brand new Geminis all adding to the interest. One problem now however, is that space constraints are becoming an issue. Last night Rowan Road lock up was almost full as well as the garage at Vancouver Avenue. This is likely to worsen tomorow as three more new B9 Deckers plus 37571 off adblu repairs at Volvo are all due to arrive, while also expected back is Paragon 20507 which is due to be exchanged for Norwich Olympian 34903 which has been at Lynn since the weekend.

Paragon 20509 is now officially classified as out of service and 20508 may also be the same. A backlog of repairs has meant 20141 is still dead at Rowan Road, but better news for fans of 20126 (of which I know there are several !) as it has now had brake repairs completed and was out on Hunstantons late today. 20106 is having its scheduled service at Rowntree Way this week to relieve some of the pressure at Lynn. 20505 which was last seen on the X1 on 28th is at Volvo for repairs at the moment.

I was kindly given the opportunity to compare the seating comfort between an Olympian Royale (W reg) on loan from Lowestoft and a brand new Gemini tonight and there is simply no contest. The older vehicle wins hands down and has become a favourite with the Lynn drivers thanks to its handling too.
Well what about the X1 today ? Timekeeping was pretty good with a couple of notable exceptions. K6 07.59 Lynn - Peterborough was seen leaving Wisbech at 08.50 (19 late) this morning partly due to very heavy traffic at this location. 37567 was the vehicle. John W later noted it leaving Lynn about 30 mins late and it was stepped down at Lowestoft to become Y8. By the time it had arrived back at Lynn this evening it had already amassed 7489km on the clock since its entry into service on 23/10. John also witnessed Y8 arriving with 20111 and this being replaced by 37569 for the 11.12 to Lowestoft. Again there were numerous swaps today.
I had an emergency trip to Lynn this morning on business and on my return found myself heading west from Lynn to Wisbech on the A47 bypass and catching up none other than Gemini 37563 on J11 10.29 Lynn - Peterborough running approx 28 late and thus avoiding Tilney, Terrington and Walpole in an effort to make up some time. As we have mentioned before, at the moment scarcely a day goes by without a Gemini having to do this - it was a rarity during full coach operation. I did take the opportunity of following it for about a mile and can confirm that with a clear road it was doing a solid 56mph. For the poor passengers waiting at the villages they at least had the luxury of the following service (L12) being on time with 37573. Better than last evening when the 20.18 Peterborough - Lowestoft (K20) failed to run over the western section leaving passengers stranded in the fog. The bus off Y21 (20118) looks to have gone forward on K20 at 21.42. Tonight's Y21 - the one journey trip turn as 17.25 Lowestoft - Lynn had 20506 which had gone over earlier on K18 06.57 Lynn - Lowestoft.


Tuesday 4th November 2008 ~ Transition Stalemate

Nice atmospheric picture of 37568 & 37564 by Jamie Vendie

After the influx of Geminis, things seem to have stalled somewhat and further new deliveries have not occurred as yet. Today the timetable ran well for the most part and First seem to be carrying out just as many swaps, but with less time lost. Something odd was happening at Lynn this morning, K2 08.18 ex Peterborough viewed by Rob Brooks was 37567, but this was replaced at Lynn by 20105. 37567 then returned to Peterborough on L12 07.15 ex Lowestoft instead of 20351. Meanwhile the service in front of this (J11 with 37564) was delayed with the result that at 11.07 37564 was seen leaving Wisbech Horsefair 36 late on J11 followed by 37567 one minute behind on L12. It seems very unlikely that 37567 ran through to P'bo as it was then seen at Walsoken 2 minutes late at 12.15 heading back to Lowestoft as J11. Are you with me thus far ?? The L12 turn had a strange day as 37564, which having swapped turns with 37567 was now on it only worked back to Lynn where its original vehicle Profile 20351 went forward. This wasn't the end of 564's day though as it was then called upon to replace 20501 on L13 12.18 ex Peterborough, the Gemini itself being replaced by 20504 later to work the 19.59 to Peterborough. There were many other changes of diagram today and one of note was Gemini 37568 arriving at Lynn from Lowestoft at 16.54 on K6 and then being sent back east as K5 at 17.12 instead of 20117 which did the opposite and returned to Peterborough on Y8 17.29 replacing 20107.

There was excitement in Beccles today when for the first time a B7 Profile appeared on the X2, it was 20352 on the second part of K19. This had begun with 20104 which was diverted onto an X1 (K17). The other vehicle involved in a sort of triangular swap was Gemini 37565. 20114 also put in an appearance on the X2 today and according to Michael, this was the first day he had noted where no old Olympians appeared on the service.

20126 spent its second day under repair at Vancouver Avenue, while the return to service of 20353 meant there was a surplus of coaches and 20508/9 were idle at Rowan Road with 37566 (accident damage) and 20141 (water leak/brakes).


Monday 3rd November 2008 ~ A Case of Comfort

Pat travelled to Peterborough on J11 with 37573 on Saturday. She thought the seats upstairs gave little room and noted that the headrests were uncomfortable. She and her husband decided to come back on K3 with 37564, but this was seen going to the rail station, but not returning and instead everyone had to wait for 20503 on K5 which impressed Pat with its riding qualities and additional room.
Today was the best day for timekeeping since the introduction of the new buses. The daytime service was punctual with the exception of 37568 on Y8 09.48 ex Peterborough which passed Bruce 18 late. The delays didn't kick in until later when K7 17.09 Wisbech - Lowestoft with 20506 was 17 late departing and 20107 was 15 late on K6 17.31 Wisbech - Peterborough. Once again a Profile was involved in an unusual swap. 20351 on K17 14.18 Peterborough - Lowestoft came off at Lynn at 15.37 and then returned west again with K2 15.59 to Peterborough. K17 went forward with 37565, this had done K16 until 15.07 but was replaced then by 20114 which was presumably requested by Lowestoft. The evening peak then saw numerous swaps involving late running Geminis. Earlier in the day 20508 on J11 had been replaced by 20353 at 12.42 to Lowestoft, its first journey out since its collision. 20111 on L13 came off at 19.54 and the 19.59 to Peterborough was 20117 off L12. 20105/09/31 were the schools turns today, but 20109 later took over Y9 17.59 to Peterborough from 37573.
Not only did 37566 receive collision damage after it ran into a car in Peterborough on Friday, yet another Gemini (so far unidentified) had a minor argument with a car at the same location yesterday. 37565 as previously reported has a bodywork leak and now 37569 has water leaking into the drivers cab from the windscreen, so construction leaves something to be desired.

Sunday 2nd November 2008 ~ Paragon Swansong

Surely there wont be many more Sundays left where five B12s are used ? I had expected 20508/9 to remain at Rowan Road until they leave for Glasgow, but today 20508 was in X1 service, although when seen at Walpole Highway as the 17.17 to Peterborough it had its old problem and had 'Great Yarmouth' showing in its destination box. 20500/03/06/09 were also out. Geminis used today were 37563 (19 late on the 18.17 to Peterborough), 37564 seen at Wisbech running 10 late as the 16.09 to Lowestoft and 37565 on time as the 17.09 eastbound. Sole Premiere in use was 20118 seen bang on time both at lunchtime and this evening.
Noted tonight at Rowan Road were 20109/114/126/131/141, 20351/2/3, 20501/2/4, 37566 and at Vancouver Avenue 20103/05/20, 37567/9.
20353 has returned from collision repairs at Yarmouth and the repaint job is quite noticeable.


Saturday 1st November 2008 ~ Profiles misplaced

After yesterday's chaos, 20351 and 20352 both ended up at Yarmouth, so today they worked Y8 and Y9. The latter was removed from this at Lynn after coming in from Peterborough at 11.37 and switched to K15 11.59 back westbound, while 20111 looks to have taken Y9 forward at 11.42 to Lowestoft. Normally the B7s are rested on Saturday and this move meant that 20352 ended up at Lynn this evening. K15 had started with Gemini 37568 and this then took K16 at 12.29 to P'bo while 20501 off K16 replaced 37567 on K17 which had an electrical fault and retired for the day. Other Geminis in trouble include 37566 which had collision damage sustained on K1 last night and needs attention to the front passenger side, while 37565 is letting in water on the lower deck so Wrights have been informed.
37568/573 ended up at Lowestoft tonight. Premieres on frontline duty today were 20103/5/7/9/42. Bruce had an excellent day observing and the worst delay was to 20352 on its second trip of the day to Peterborough on K15.


Friday 31st October 2008 ~ All Hallows Whatdunit ?

Almost every diagram swapped vehicle today at some point either at Lynn or Lowestoft. The continuing delays due to traffic congestion and the Gemini speed factor made a mockery of the timetable. The usual story of a Gemini being tailed by a coach came from Bruce today who saw L13 12.18 ex Peterborough passing Walpole Highway 33 late with an unidentified B9 (believed to be 37573) and followed closely by 20142 on Y14. The latter was a chuck out from Lynn as Y14 coming in either had a problem or was very late. K4 began today with 37567 but this had already lost 8 minutes before departing Wisbech for the coast at 09.39 (actual 09,47) and this evening was in Lynn garage while K4 had 'become' 37565 seen 20 late at Walsoken at 17.13 and 31 late on arrival back at Lynn (due 19.07). The Gemini which worked the 17.09 Wisbech - Lowestoft seems to have arrived empty from Lynn. 37568 on K1 07.48 P'bo - Lowestoft was swapped at Lowestoft for 37566 off K3 and this was only 9 late on the 16.01 Wisbech - Peterborough, however, it was later seen at Rowan Road compound when it should have been en route to Lowestoft on the 18.12 from Lynn.
The two B7 Profiles in service will both be at Lowestoft/Yarmouth tonight after working K2 and K20. 20114 which began the day on K5 was also at Rowan Road, 20103 having replaced it and 20502 came into Vancouver Avenue with 42 Fairstead Estate & Bus station on the front - the first time I have ever seen a Paragon with the correct service number and destination for this town route. 20501 returned today and took over K15 at Lowestoft after 37563 had lost time on the inward, this then appeared on K17. 20126 did K19, the X2 turn, for the second consecutive day.
Peter reported seeing his first Gemini today, 37568 on K1 (see above) while Neville (tongue in cheek) reported 20102 on the X22 07.45 Colchester - Stansted (buy a road map Nev !). I wonder if 20500/01 will end up on this route ? At the moment it is hard to see how the X1 could cope without the stalwart B10s and B12s.
20141 was back at Lynn tonight with a water leak and brake defect, but no sign of 20507. 20508 had moved into Vancouver Avenue for body repairs and 20509 had moved around the compound at Rowan Road.