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The Next Blog to arrive at .......

The next blog will probably be on Saturday as I will be away from Thursday evening until then. Any sightings for Thu/Fri can be emailed to me at the usual address

Thanks to everyone who contributes and I will do an update as soon as I can.



Wednesday 29th July 2009 ~ Walking a Tightrope

The people at 'First' who sanctioned the order for Gemini B9s may now be having second thoughts. At the moment a constant battle is raging to keep enough vehicles on the road to provide the full X1 service. Yesterday 37576 was rushed to Volvo and an injector problem was rectified in time for it to return last night and be back on the road today (K5). A Volvo fitter attended 37570 at King's Lynn also last night for checking its ABS sensor which has been a constant source of stress to the operators for the last few months. This was in service again today on K17. 37573 is now believed to have arrived at Volvo in Norwich where it has joined 20353 and 37577. 577's problems are more serious hence its longer stay there.
Today 37572 which was on its 54th consecutive days work failed in Norwich on K18. A local Scania worked forward. 20115 took up the return part of the turn.
37579 has adjourned to Rowan Road following yesterday's accident at Toftwood pending movement for body repairs.
As if all this wasn't enough, today one of the drivers working King's Lynn to Peterborough was not carded for B9s, so K15 with 37574 and this afternoon K4 with 37568 were both replaced by 20106 for the trips to Peterborough. While 37574 resumed its turn, 37568 did not and 106 changed for 20103 on K4. 20103 had itself arrived just after 19.00 on Y9.
The shortfall of B9s was accounted for as follows : K3 20118 (yes it did return last night - I just lost it somewhere !), Y6 20104, L8 20352, Y9 20103, L11 20109, K16 20127, K19 34108. When one adds in the two trips to Peterborough by 20106 and 20115 replacing 37572, this makes for depressing reading for those in charge. Two B10Ms which are unlikely to feature this week are 20131 on which the MOT expired yesterday and on which a considerable amount of welding is required and 20105 which is at Rowan Road also but sidelined because it has been overheating. 20121 was used on staff shuttles today and appears to be OK.
Rob Brooks has provided some valuable sightings lately and says : " Travelled on 34108 to Wisbech, very smooth ride indeed, could do with the whole lot of them on here, and relegate the Geminis to X2s. Speaking of Geminis, I don't think any of them are cleared for 62. My Gemini Speed Checking device has 37567 clocked at 53 along the A47, no traffic ahead to speak of. Majority of the ones I've tracked have done just about the same. 579 is the only one I've experienced doing 57 along the same stretch". Well Rob, I've followed a few in the car doing 60mph or thereabouts including 37572 a couple of nights ago, so I guess the new schedules are proving easier on the A47 west of Wisbech. Thanks also to a bronzed Bruce who has returned from Devon - it's not a tan apparently, it's rust he says. He had to take his kids to the cinema this afternoon and missed the guest appearance of 20115, but provided much of today's information.
On the X2 Michael Bryant reports 20127 in use on the 14.38 Lowestoft - Beccles on Monday, so it did originate from Lowestoft yesterday after all. Still no sign of 37566 today though. Sam saw 20109 on the X2 yesterday before it returned today on L11. Punctuality was good again today but 20118 on K3 was about 15 late from Wisbech this evening, however, Peter reports it departing Peterborough 2 minutes early on the return !
The local bus situation at King's Lynn has been poor this week and made worse this afternoon when Scania 65531 was involved in an accident at West Newton putting it off the road. Classic Olympian 34921 was on 44s yesterday evening and arrived in from Hunstanton tonight

Tuesday 28th July 2009 ~ Variety Performance

The 15.35 Peterborough - Yarmouth (K18) heads east at Walpole Highway with 37575, one of a few Lynn B9s on the road today.
20127 was a surprise today seen working L11 12.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft. It completed the turn.

Well we had just about a bit of everything on the X1 today. The 'Gemini' situation became a bit embarrassing today, but to be fair the misfortune which befell 37579 was unforeseen. 579 was on K1 and was involved in an accident in Dereham (believed to have been this afternoon - it is due to depart there at 14.05). It sustained damage to the drivers side front after a car pulled out into the side of it. The front also suffered to a lesser extent. Needless to say it will be out of action for a while until repairs are effected. K1 was restarted from Lynn at 15.15 to Peterborough with Scania 65531 (many thanks to Andrew for the gen). This was taken off on arrival back at Lynn at 18.00 and 37570 went forward, however, this didn't get far as its ABS fault recurred - it had earlier been removed from K15 with same. As 20103 off Y7 the 18.09 arrival was nowhere to be seen this evening, I am assuming this did a quick turn round and replaced 37570. Both 570 and 579 were in King's Lynn garage this evening. As we've said, 37570 was taken off K15 at 15.24 and 37578 off a booked maintenance check seems to have worked forward. There was more mystery tonight though when 20118 due in from Peterborough on K5 at 19.58, failed to appear. More on this as we receive it, but it seems likely that a breakdown occurred.
Elsewhere the service ran pretty well and fairly punctually, but the lack of B9s can be judged by those turns having alternative power. K2 was 20352, K3 had 20106, K4 20104, K5 20118, Y7 20103, L11 20127, L12 34108 and K16 20107. Most unusual of these was not the Royale, but the provision of 20127 on L11. Neither of the Yarmouth allocated pair have been seen on the X1 for five weeks. 37566 had been expected on this diagram and it is just possible that it had to be removed at Yarmouth and 127 was provided as a replacement. .
The mileage on 37565 can be confirmed from its speedo which reads 80927, so in reality it has actually done quite well, though in relation to 37564 this is about 8000 miles less. 37563/578 have received dropdown ads for the film 'Aliens In The Attic' and 37575/78 rear ads for part-time educational courses as has 20127.
So this evening 37572/4/5/8 are the four Lynn based B9s still on the road. 37576 left for Volvo today.


Monday 27th July 2009 ~ Reports Far & Wide

Let's begin by re-examining yesterday's goings on after further evidence was forthcoming. 37567 had a problem with its ticket machine at Lynn at 15.30 and it looks as though this was the B9 which 34108 replaced, hence the latters late running. 567 was then rectified and replaced 569 (earlier seen by Terence).
Today was quite interesting as we suspected it might be. K5 was indeed 37575 off its service and 37576 was also checked over but then sidelined at Rowan Road with a confirmed injector failure. 37574 had a quick trip to Volvo for examination, but returned almost immediately and was back in service tonight (see below).
Michael F emailed to say that he'd seen 20106 and 37573 at Lowestoft depot at 07.45. This was a surprise as I'd thought that 573 had already gone to Volvo. Lowestoft turned out 37565/579 and 20107/118 on the X1 this morning. Beverley (Rob B's Mum) was a passenger on 565 (L8) which sounded quite unhealthy and was one of a number of B9s to visit Vancouver Avenue whilst in service today for adblu attention. Jamie R reported 37579 on L12 tonight, seen in Peterborough and 20107 was viewed at Wisbech tonight on L10. Lowestoft also did some swapping today. 20353 on K17 was replaced by 20106 and K3 with 20109 was changed for 20104 which only got as far as Lynn where 37574 (see above) replaced it for its last leg to Peterborough and back. Michael F saw 20109 at Lowestoft depot at teatime having come off K3.
34108 continued its good work by doing K14 which finishes at Lowestoft. To add to 20104/6/7/9/18 which we've already mentioned, 20103 was used on K4. Thanks very much to Bruce for giving a comprehensive account today after I was 'failed' for work this morning !


Sunday 26th July 2009 ~ Mixed Bag

Today's variety of vehicles in X1 use reflect the dipping availability of the B9s. It also marked the first employment of a Royale on a Sunday. It is not known if 34108 began on the turn but it was seen arriving at Peterborough at 17.17, about 20 late on the 12.48 from Lowestoft. Profile 20352 did Y9 and B10M 20106 was provided for Y4, the turn which begins at Yarmouth and ends the day at Lowestoft.
37572 was back in service and worked K2 07.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough and the 09.10 thence to Lowestoft. On arrival it was held over to work back on K3. K2 continuing back to Peterborough at 13.48 with 37566. 566 had earlier worked the first turn off Lynn to the Coast this being K6 06.35 King's Lynn to Lowestoft. The vehicle on this then normally goes empty to Yarmouth garage ready for use on Monday. 37567 off K3 did not reappear so presumably this went to Yarmouth instead, while 37563 was viewed by Ros on the second part of K6 after having had a day off for servicing yesterday.
The situation with the Geminis worsened today with 37576 having a suspected injector failure and 37569 unavailable first thing. 37575 looks like it will have a service tomorrow, but all being well it will be completed in time to do K5. Nevertheless it looks as though 20103 and at least one other B10M will have to work out of King's Lynn tomorrow morning along with 34108 and the two available B7s. This was the first day off for 20103 after 13 consecutive days work in which it has covered over 3000 miles. Currently only four of the ten Lynn based B9s are in service.

Saturday 25th July 2009 ~ A Patched Up Service

The original order for 20 Geminis for the X1 would have likely as not meant that on some days the service would run entirely B9 operated had things gone according to plan. With the announcement of the reduction to 17 Geminis and the three B7 Profiles providing cover, it might at least be reasonably expected that a full service could often be run using these dedicated vehicles and in fact this still leaves scope for one on maintenance.
Today was a decidedly patched up service then. Twelve of the 17 B9s were used, though two of these didn't complete turns. The excellent 37572 surprisingly came out for a 50th consecutive day on K5, but after a trip to Peterborough and back was taken off for servicing and 37579 went forward from Lynn to Lowestoft. This means that there is a high chance of 572 being used tomorrow and thus further accumulating its consecutive days work.
B7 20351 was in collision with a Muntjac yesterday morning whilst travelling light to Wisbech for K18 near Eau Brink and these small deer are becoming an increasing hazard. New panels are on order from Blackstones and these are expected at the end of the coming week. Today 352 was out on K18 and 20353 started the day on L8 but was about 20 late heading east at lunchtime and so it came as little surprise that Lowestoft held it back to do the second leg of L9. The most remarkable thing today was that no less than five B10Ms were out and also the Alexander Royale bodied Volvo 34108. 20103 made an early start from Yarmouth on Y6 but somehow this ended up on the second leg of K5 indicating that it may have been stopped short at Yarmouth on Y6 and turned round to become K5. This meant it finished at King's Lynn this evening. 20106 was utilised on K1 and did the full turn meaning it will end up at Yarmouth tonight and increase its chances of appearing on the X1 tomorrow. 20107 was K16 and 20109 K3 while 20118 was on Y10 at the beginning of its day but then was spotted by Bruce on L8 tonight meaning it had jumped forward by a whole hour compared to earlier. The Royale was entrusted to Y13 today which means it will end up at King's Lynn tonight, again giving it a good chance of working tomorrow.
37563 was kept at Lowestoft for servicing today and it will be interesting to see if it re-emerges with a working destination display. 37573 is confirmed as being back at Volvo after an injector failure and 37574 is pending delivery there for chassis repairs. 37577 is also currently at Volvo. 20121 remains at Vancouver Avenue awaiting testing gear. Last weekend it was used on a private hire to (of all places) Lowestoft.
The use of Lowestoft B9s on King's Lynn internal diagrams seems to be avoided at all costs - that is except on Sundays when a common user policy seems to be adopted- the last occasion when this happened on a Mon-Sat basis was on 3rd July when 37567 did K5, however, today two turns were given Lowestoft B9s, K17 had 37564 and K19 was given 37569.
A final note comes from Rob Brooks who says he had a text from his Mum to say that Y6 19.15 from Peterborough was 37579, "She's learning" says Rob.


Friday 24th July 2009 ~ Return Of The Royale

Andrew James kindly sent this photograph of the scene at King's Lynn at 6pm this evening depicting K19 with 37570 which later left eastbound empty, its passengers having transferred to 34108 (rear) for onward transportation to Great Yarmouth.
It is nearly two weeks now since the last appearance of Royale 34108 on the X1, so it came a s a bit of a surprise today when K1 with 37563 changed vehicles at Lowestoft at just before mid-day and was replaced by the said Royale. Perhaps we shouldn't have been so surprised as the combination of 37563 requiring a service, as well as attention to its inoperable destination screen and the fact that it was Lowestoft Air Show may all have contributed to 34108 working.
Only turns not seen today were L12 and Y13. Of these L12 could possibly have been Gemini 37573 or a B10M, or may be even another Royale ! Y13 should have had 37565. B10Ms noted in service today were 20103 on K4, 20106 on K3 and 20118 which did K18 after 20351, the original vehicle was involved in a minor incident shortly after setting out this morning.
Andy James was at King's Lynn observing movements at teatime and says : "I viewed the following :
K3 1615 TO PBO - 20106
K17 1632 TO LOW - 37579 (13 LATE)
K4 1645 TO PBO - 20103 (5 LATE)
K18 1702 TO LOW - 20118
K5 1715 TO PBO - 20352
K19 1732 TO LOW - 37570 (30 LATE ~ SEE BELOW)
Y6 1745 TO PBO - 37569
K1 1802 TO LOW - 34108 (SEE BELOW)
Y7 1807 IN FROM LOW - 37564
K2 1832 TO LOW - 37578
L8 1850 TO PBO - 37567
Note : The 1732 and 1802 departures to Lowestoft came in together, 34108 - the on time 1802 took all of the passengers and departed on time whilst 37570 (the 30 minutes late 1732 departure) went off empty 'not in service' to make up its time".

I also saw 37570 running 33 late entering Wisbech on K19 at 17.23. 37572 did K15 for the third consecutive day but is earmarked for a service tomorrow, so its long run in continuous service may be about to end. Whilst on the subject of 37572, it continues to lead a charmed life in that it has never been disfigured with advertising on the drivers side. This prompts the question as to whether there is a fault on this particular buses hoarding.


Thursday 23rd July 2009 ~ Heckles from Beccles

This location is one of my favourites for photographing X1s, but the Geminis manage to blot out the telegraph poles ! 20107 was scooting along on K16 at 13.35 today.
Actually there hasn't been any heckling from Beccles, but I wouldn't blame them as in my Anniversary blog last evening, I completely forgot to thank my two X2 men, Sam Wickham and Michael Bryant for their contributions to the blog. Apologies to both of you chaps and thanks for all your assistance. There was something of a surprise on the X2 today when 20115 which had been reported as back at Norwich produced on the 15.38 Norwich to Lowestoft. This might seem logical, but this turn like most on the X2 is supplied by Lowestoft. The mystery deepens as the latest fleet list dated 1/7/09 shows 20115 and 20123 as allocated to Lowestoft.

Today was day one of the Lowestoft Air Show which increasingly attracts huge crowds. The X1 seemed relatively unaffected but tonight 37563 on L12 20.50 Lynn to Peterborough was 10 late which can probably be attributed to congestion around Lowestoft where it is booked to depart at 17.48. 563 was once again operating with its destination equipment blank and at lunchtime was observed arriving at Wisbech with a printed card propped up in front of the drivers desk proclaiming 'Peterborough'.
All the Lowestoft based Geminis were in action today although 37564 only appeared this afternoon after replacing 20104 on K4. Lynn allocated 37570 had a day off today for servicing and 37574 was again out of service following its incident on Monday. 37573 did return to service and was kitted out with an advert for G Force overnight. It began the day on K5 but this afternoon was replaced at Lowestoft by the errant 20118 which had gone over last Friday. Whether this swap and that of 20104 were due to late running in connection with Air Show traffic is unknown.

With all the bad news about B9s, in contrast 37572 seems to be trying to set a new record. It re-entered service on Saturday 6th June after attention at Volvo and hasn't had a day off since ! That's 48 days in a row by my reckoning which is pretty impressive by any standards. Its scheduled safety services have been fitted in between its X1 work.
37569 has acquired the dropdown advert for G Force and a rear one for the Lifeguarded beaches as per 37579.

20103 worked today for the 11th successive day and did L10. 20106 came back from the coast on L11 and 20107 performed on K16. This is in addition to 20104/118 which we've already mentioned. All three Profiles were back at King's Lynn tonight with 20352 due for a low emissions test in the morning.


Wednesday 22nd July 2009 ~ Anniversary Blog

A Birthday picture for the blog courtesy of Jamie Vendy.
Yes quite amazing really, but today marks the 1st anniversary of the X1 blog. Originally intended as a sort of tribute to the B10M and B12 Volvo coaches which were to be replaced come the Autumn of 2008 by a fleet of 20 Gemini B9 double deckers, things have turned out somewhat differently in reality. For a start the new bus order was cut back to 17 vehicles with the three B7 Profile coaches intended to make up the shortfall, then my intention to abandon the blog once the new charges had settled in was cancelled hence the fact you are reading this now.

The introduction of the B9s was a new concept in long distance travel and could not be compared to any other new fleet in the entire history of Eastern Counties, or as it is now known First Eastern England. The previous new regime with B12 Paragons was inaugurated when the service was still hourly, numbered X94 and only operating from Yarmouth to Peterborough. Expectations for the new B9 fleet were greater than anything gone before in terms of long distance mileage and intensive use. They have already run up a phenomenal mileage and with a very low casualty rate, so while the internal fittings were the subject of much criticism in particular the basic seating, the decision to adopt the fleet has been proved to be a success from the operating point of view.

The early days as regulars will recall were quite awful, the new buses being limited to 50mph and losing time hand over fist and this coupled with many drivers not having the necessary cards to drive them meant the first couple of months were a shambles. The advance to a 62 mph top speed has certainly done the trick and although we have seen a dip in availability of late - probably expected in view of the speed in which they have accumulated huge mileages - the overall 'Gemini' experience has probably, to the travelling public been seen as a success also. So there we are, a largely glowing testimonial to the B9s thus far, but what of the next year ? Well assuming that this blog has not been closed down at the request of the police, hopefully we will still be reporting at least some events this time next year.

So what of all this from an enthusiasts point of view ? As is generally the case the new fleet were greeted with a mixture of excitement in some quarters and disgust in others. The day to day operation of a fleet such as the B9s is rarely put under the microscope as it were, so in this aspect the X1 blog is possibly unique. We have a cross section of contributors, but in the main I think it is fair to say that most mourn the loss of coach operation. I say loss, but as I write it is still an every day occurrence to travel in a B10M and of course the three Profiles will probably be around for a while yet too. Recently the appearance of a Volvo Royale has renewed interest and the occasional Scania still deputises when things get desperate. Finally I must pass on my thanks to everyone and you really are too numerous to mention, who has contributed in any way over the last 12 months. Special mention must be made of a few individuals who have reported 'beyond the call of duty' over the last 12 months. Rob Brooks, Andrew James and Jamie Vendy have been instrumental in enabling me to make comprehensive reports in recent months and this blog would have long ceased to exist had it not been for the mammoth efforts of Bruce Billingham from his observatory overlooking the route at Walpole Highway. Then we have the employees of 'First Group' themselves - again many people who naturally I am not going to name here - you know who you are and sincere thanks for all your help.


37573 returned from Norwich Volvo today after repairs and 37577 looks to have gone the other way. 37574 was in the operational line at Vancouver Avenue this evening so is probably fit for service again. 37563 did K2 today, still with blank destination screens. 37564 was out (as usual) on L11, but this was changed at Lowestoft this afternoon for 37569, 564 was actually slightly late going east and 569 had been released off maintenance. The mystery of 37565's ultra low mileage has been explained by the fact that its hub mileage indicator is not working properly. In the past 6 days it has done approx 2424 miles, whereas its hub says it has travelled just 11 miles !!! If anyone gets chance to do an odometer reading on this one (easily obtained when buying a ticket incidentally), perhaps you could let me know the result. Whilst on the subject, the hub meter on 37569 is stuck and has been all year, so if (as we are led to believe) the powers that be are reading this, how about showing your commitment and getting them replaced ? Yesterday's mystery vehicle on L12 was 37568 and this did K14 today.

Two Profiles had scheduled services today, 20351 had one before taking out K5 at 07.45 from King's Lynn to Peterborough and 20353 was also treated with 20109 doing a trip to Peterborough and back on K4 before 353 replaced it. 20352 was performing all day on K3.

The old school were much in evidence today with 20109 working as mentioned above plus 20103 on K16, 20104 on L12, 20106 on Y6 and 20107 on Y13. I think 106 worked through to Lowestoft tonight on Y6, but 37569 was still at Lynn bus station so might have replaced it if deemed necessary. In this respect check out the blog on our first day 22/7/08 and see what it says about 20106 then! Punctuality was excellent this morning but faltered over here in the west at lunchtime with 37572 on K15 having still not appeared at Walpole 13 minutes after it was due.


Tuesday July 21st 2009 ~ Tuesday Troubles

Last Tuesday was a bad one for the B9 Geminis and today was equally concerning. 37563 is still operating without a functioning destination display and was seen tonight on L12. L11 was the only turn not positively identified today, but it was a B9 and probably 37568 or 37569, 568 was prime candidate for L12 yesterday but in fact this was 20107 which today operated K18.
37573 has not yet returned from Volvo, but this surely must be imminent as today 37574/7 joined the casualty list. 574 which had come off L8 last night was stopped with damage to its chassis and 37577 was also halted today with an engine problem, tonight it was at Rowan Road. One fortunate thing is that this dip in B9 availability has occurred when the trio of B7s are all in service. K3 & K5 had 20351/2 respectively today and 20353 did Y13.
20103 appears to have done Y9 today which is a little odd as it was expected to appear on one of the turns from Lowestoft rather than Yarmouth. 20104 was K2 today with the B9 shortage seeing K4 given 20121. This was changed at some point during the day for 20106 which, with the end of the Summer term is now one of the B10Ms surplus until the schools resume in September. 20105/09/31 were all spare today because of this.
37579 has gained the G force ad and also a new rear one aimed at swimmers who are encouraged to use beaches with lifeguards. This replaces the UEA ad.

Monday 20th July 2009 ~ South Lincolnshire Handicap

Sounds like a race you might find on the card at Market Rasen doesn't it, but I'm referring to my work which was relocated just for today and tomorrow in Long Sutton. This was bad news with Bruce being in Devon and Rob Brooks at work and daytime sightings were severely restricted.
20103 went streaking past Walpole Highway at dead on 08.30 this morning on K2 and this sent it to Lowestoft this evening. Ending up at the west end was Y13 lwhich looked very much like 20104 this evening when viewed from the pub on the South Brink at Wisbech and this would make sense. 20118 appears to still be at the Lowestoft end although L12 was the only turn not seen today so it could have been 118 or more likely today's unaccounted for B9 which was 37568.
Profile 20351 was on special tests this morning but looked to have returned by midday. 351 is thought to have replaced 37578 on K15 at around 15.00. Later 578 was itself the relief vehicle for 37574 which Andy reported as being removed from the 18.50 departure from Lynn to Peterborough. 574 was later seen at Vancouver Avenue bearing two new ads, a dropdown one for a new Disney film 'G Force' and a rear one for Volkswagen.


Sunday 19th July 2009 ~ Unchartered Waters

10/10 for artistic impression ! Jamie V has been at it again, this time designing a suitable livery for the B7 Profiles and a great improvement it would be in my opinion, the darker shade of blue currently worn and lack of Excel vinyls giving quite a drab appearance.
The reason for the absence of 20121 from Rowan Road last night was because it was being used on a staff charter. I should have remembered as one of the friendly FEC drivers had told me in the week. It was back tonight however. 20103 had a Sunday run out on the X1 commencing with the 08.30 Yarmouth - Peterborough and thus ended up at King's Lynn tonight. Somehow 37563 managed to occupy a pit lane at King's Lynn garage tonight meaning it had either been removed last night when it should have worked the 21.35 to Lowestoft, or more likely it was taken off K6b today with 37576 working forward. 37577 had done K6a this morning.

'Has 37579 got a 'Bruno' advert ? ' asked Cheryl this afternoon, 'because if so it was the 15.22 Wisbech - Peterborough'. She thought it had looked like 579 but wasn't quite sure. I confirmed that it was indeed on this turn. The other turns not mentioned so far were in the hands of 37564/5/7/72/5/8 today. The three Profiles remained in Vancouver Avenue depot today and 20351 is due for attention tomorrow morning.


Saturday 18th July 2009 ~ In Defence of Blogs

As you will see, a group of us who write our own blogs have agreed together to make a joint statement regarding the recent controversy, this can be found in the column on the right of this page.
I went car hunting today as the poor old Mondeo has now done 130k and is in need of replacement. I saw a few X1 services on my travels and by this evening had managed to account for every turn. 37563 was in service on L8 today with all its destination/service screens out of order.
Geminis in service were 37563-70 inclusive and 37572/5/6/7/8/9. The absentees were the damaged 571, 37574 had a day off at Lowestoft and 37573 is still at Volvo. Profile 20351 began the day on K5 but after a trip from Lynn to Peterborough and back, got changed for sister 20352. 20353 worked K3. Checks are due on the B7s next week, hence their gathering at Lynn this evening.
B10Ms out today were 20103 on K4, 20104 on K1 and 20107 on K14 which was out after having had a solenoid replaced late last night. 20118 did not return from Lowestoft today and tonight 20121 was absent from King's Lynn. Gemini 37566 worked Y6 all day ending up at Lowestoft where it is due to receive a service.
The X1 diagrams vary in their length, the shortest being Y7 which covers 309 miles and the longest is L8 which amasses 478 miles if the same vehicle sticks on it all day. In total, seven of the 19 turns exceed 400 miles. The figures referred to here are for weekdays, the turns vary slightly on Saturdays and then L12 just does an out and back and then empty to Yarmouth, roughly 252 miles.

Friday 17th July 2009 ~ One Man & His Blog

37563 heads for Peterborough at Faulkner's Tunnel this lunchtime on K16.
Whether yesterday's outburst was to blame, I know not, but apart from hearing from Bruce that the steam engine 'Tornado' is due to be in Torbay this weekend where he is on holiday and a text from Carol this evening, everyone else was quiet.

For the first time for ages all three B7 Profiles were used today. The missing 20351 returned to service on K3 and 20352 looks to have worked L8 to Lynn where 20118 took over for the 09.15 to Peterborough. Tonight L8 was 37577 so it would seem that 118 is doing a Lowestoft overnight. 20353 was used on L11. Only two turns were not seen at all today and these were K1 with 37565 and K18 with 20103, gen provided by an employee of FEC! Tonight though 20103 was one of several coaches in Vancouver Avenue suggesting that it was either taken off K18 at Lynn, in which case the forward vehicle is a mystery or it came back from Lowestoft on Y7. This morning 37569 was Y7 but there was no sign of this tonight. In fact the early arrivals at Lynn were all coaches except K5 which began the day as 37577 but was swapped at Lowestoft for 37570 which was one of three B9s viewed by Carol this evening.

Y13 changed vehicles at Lowestoft this evening with 37567 which was due for servicing being knocked out by 20107. 20104 meanwhile did Y9 so the final tally before the late evening arrivals at Lynn meant that tonight the locality will be favoured with 20103/4/5/6/7/9, 20121 and 20131. Whilst on the subject of 131, it returned to schools work today, while 20121 spent a second day idle at Rowan road.


Where Are They Now ?

Photographer Jamie Dyke took this picture of reliveried 20111 in mid January 2009 - just over 2 weeks since its final use on the X1. It is pictured at First Hants & Dorset's Southampton Portswood depot looking very smart. Jamie adds that the FHD coaches are a rare breed to track down and 111 may be found working off Dorchester depot, quite often on the daily 253 service to Beaminster. See the blog of 24th September 2008 for a picture of 20111 as we remember her.
20509 AO02RDU seen approaching Glasgow Buchanan Street on an X11 service recently. One thing retained from its East Anglian use is the yellow sticker to the right of the passenger door informing boarders that their may be CCTV in operation. Check out the 26th October 2008 blog for a final look at 509 in Excel livery. Photo : Andrew Shirley

This is our old friend 20507 in its new X11 express livery and branded for the Newmains to Glasgow service. The blog of September 1st 2008 features a photo of 507 as she was. Photo by kind permission of Andrew Shirley.

I was going to make a small feature on the whereabouts of the coaches which left the X1 route at the turn of the year, but having secured permission from the photographers Jamie Dyke and Andrew Shirley, I promptly lost all my retained emails with their details ! Anyway I can now show some pictures taken in Scotland by Andrew and at Portswood, Southampton by Jamie of our old stalwarts in new guises. I may feature more of our old coaches in a future blog.
Check out more of Andrew's comprehensive collection of First Glasgow photos at :
Jamie has a large site on at :
Many thanks to Andrew and Jamie for agreeing for me to use their pictures in this blog.

Thursday 16th July 2009 ~ The Jobsworths

The subject of 'First' staff supplying information to this blog has been touched on before. There is no doubt that this is frowned upon by a small number of the hierarchy who it would seem have nothing better to do than spend their time worrying what we will divulge next ! I must stress that this is very much a minority and down to a handful of people, whereas many more First employees enjoy reading (I am told) this blog and others like it and are more than willing to share their information with us bus cranks (apologies to those of you who don't regard yourself as bus cranks !). Because of this small minded attitude by the few which has in the past resulted in warnings being given to at least two employees in Yarmouth and King's Lynn, I have no option other than to employ a system of aliases to protect these 'friends of the X1' from their - and in this case I use the word loosely - superiors. I will also use this opportunity to thank all the 'First' people who regularly help keep us up to date with events and just to say that I always try to give credit to the operators of the X1 when their reactions result in minor delays where a major one could have been expected.
So to today and another fairly uneventful day. 37576 would seem to be restricted to King's Lynn internal diagrams at the moment as today it did K5 after doing K3 yesterday. The big news today though came from the east of the region where Michael B reports the re-emergence of 37570 today on the 15.38 Lowestoft - Norwich X2. 570 had ended up at Lowestoft off K16 on Monday 6th and was then stopped.
20107 did the first part of Y9 today, but this afternoon Lowestoft replaced it with 37565. There didn't appear to be any other swaps today and B10Ms out were 20103 on L12, 20104 on K18 and 20105 on K3. Gemini 37579 did K15 for the third consecutive day.


Wednesday 15th July 2009 ~ Things Quieten Down

After yesterday's events it is nice to provide a short blog after a day where little really happened X1 wise. Firstly I should report that the demise of 37576 reported last night was premature as it worked K3 today and looked fine when seen in service at 08.50 and again at 16.50. Using 576 on K3 was probably intentional as this is now the 'early bath' internal turn which in the old timetable was classified K4.
37573 remains at Volvo and still no news on the whereabouts of 37570 which is assumed to be in the same location. Unconfirmed rumours say that 37571 has now returned to Wrights in Northern Ireland for assessment. It had been stored near Wisbech pending a VOSA inspection.
On the visiting vehicle front, 20123 was today replaced by 20104 and Sam reports that 123 has now rejoined 20115 at Norwich. The day passed without a Royale being used and Michael noted all the fleet in use on the X2 including 34108 but with the exception of 34109/110, both of which were in use yesterday. This suggests that may be the tacho modification was being carried out today.
First indications show that there was only one turn that changed vehicles today, but this was quite significant as 37565 on Y7 was changed at Lowestoft for 20131, so this ended up back at its home depot again following repairs. We've already mentioned the use of 20104, it did L11 and there were two further B10M workings today, these being 20103 on K16 and 20107 on K18.


Tuesday 14th July 2009 ~ Bang Bang the Mighty Fall

This evening the number of available B9 Geminis had dropped to unlucky 13 and with just two B7s on the road, the rest of the week looks interesting with at least four additional vehicles to find. Today there was no sign of the Alexander Royale Volvo 34108, but apparently 34109 is next to have tacho work completed.
37573 is confirmed as being at Volvo, Norwich for remedial work after its turbocharger was declared unserviceable. This meant that K1 from Lynn to Yarmouth last night was indeed 20105 as we'd expected. Some services from the coast changed vehicles at Lynn today. L12 looks to have arrived with 20105 and 20107 then worked forward at 11.15 to Peterborough. Then at lunchtime 20352 on L10 was taken off and Andy says 20105 which had fitted in a trip to Hunstanton continued as the 13.02 to Lowestoft and Rob Brooks reports it working throughout on the 16.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough.
Mark C says that 20123 was in trouble again today - believed to be overheating as before - and was taken off K16 at King's Lynn with 20118 doing the 13.15 to Peterborough. On arrival at Lynn on the return, a refreshed 20123 was once again provided to work through to Lowestoft.
There was one final change of vehicle reported by AJ, 37576 on K19 16.05 ex Peterborough was in trouble at Terrington and after slowing to 20mph there was a bang and some black smoke and it then regained speed only to be diagnosed with a failed turbocharger on arrival at King's Lynn. Profile 20352 was called upon to take over the turn. This leaves 37570/1/3/6 all out of service.
Other coaches on the road today were 20103 on Y13 and 20353 on Y7. At least the controllers had one bit of good news today, 37565 was out again for the ninth successive day !
37575 has gained the 'Land of the Lost' advert, perhaps this should read 'Land of the Lost Geminis' ?
Thanks to everyone who supplied information today. Anyone who wants to catch up with the latest workings can take a look at the chart updated to today online at

and click on X1 chart.


Monday 13th July 2009 ~ Behind the Scenes

Some strange events took place today which will warrant further explanation. The B7s are now in general use and the time when they were kept exclusively for King's Lynn internal diagrams has well and truly passed. Today for example while 20351 remained out of use at King's Lynn depot, 20352 did K2 which has a Lowestoft finish and 20353 the Yarmouth terminating K4. I had expected 37576 to be stopped for MOT, but instead it merely had a service and did K5. This is the next Lynn B9 due for MOT. The number of B10Ms out today was reduced, 20105 began the day on K17 but then was swapped at Lynn for 37579 which had its seatbelts restored. 20103 was turned out on K18, but this afternoon was running approx 40 late thanks to an A47 incident near Thorney when a lorry shed its load of tin cans. It was seen arriving at Wisbech at 17.02 (due 16.21). 20107 did Y9. The popular 34108 was sampled by Brucey on L12 and afterwards he was waxing lyrically about the comfortable journey which it provided. Alas the same could not be said of his return on K1 with 37568 which was 'swaying around like a trawler'. What Bruce did to these two vehicles is unknown, but they felt the after effects and 34108 did not return on L12 tonight and instead the vehicle we'd expected this morning 20123 appeared in its place. 37568 meanwhile was swapped this evening and K1 went forward with an unknown which we can narrow down to being either 37573 or 20105. I think I would plump for the latter as I have a strong suspicion that 573 may well be the donor of seatbelts to 579 and that 573 may have gone Volvo way for warranty work. There is still no sign of 37570 incidentally.
37565 was seen returning from Peterborough 15 late on K14 this afternoon and that was before the aforementioned incident. Prior to this, timekeeping had been good. 37563 was seen tonight bearing a new drivers side ad for the film 'Land Of The Lost'.

Sunday 12th July 2009 ~ Leyland National replaces Elephant !

More fun at Carlton Colville today with a Leyland National operated X1 ! Now I do remember vehicles like the one on the right on the 336 Relief from Wisbech to King's Lynn, but then I am a museum piece myself. Photo by Sam.
37567 on display at the East Anglian Transport Museum. Photo kindly sent by Sam Wickham.

This is Jamie Vendy's idea of a joint X1, X2 livery. Very smart indeed !

Today was the annual open day at the East Anglian Transport museum at Carlton Colvile near Lowestoft and First provided a couple of vehicles. One was a Trident and another our own 37567, see Sam's excellent picture above. Unfortunately commitments prevented me attending this year, but my local contact Bruce and myself have plans to go to Showbus later this year.

Last night I saw 37578 on Y6 topping up with Adblu in Vancouver Avenue on the 20.35 Lynn -Lowestoft and this morning two Geminis arrived within 20 minutes of each other at King's Lynn both requiring Adblu top-ups, these being 37569 and 37566 at about 10am. Both remained in service for the rest of the day once attended to. An entirely Gemini worked service was foiled today by 20352 appearing on the third and final turn off Yarmouth, bringing it home to King's Lynn this evening.
The usual swap on K6 took place at Lowestoft with 37574 being changed for 37578 for the 09.48 to Peterborough. Amazingly, 37565 was out for the seventh consecutive day, so may be it is finally fixed.


Saturday 11th July 2009 ~ A Very Useful Bus

20123 on Y6 this morning passing 'The Locomotive' pub on the approach to Wisbech
37564 & 37565 pose in King's Lynn bus station this evening after arrival on L11 and Y7 respectively. It has been a good week for 565 although it is still by far the lowest mileage B9. In contrast 37564 leads the fleet in this respect and with 84551 on the clock tonight it is expected to reach the 100,000 miles mark in around six weeks time all being well.

Royale 34108 spent a fourth consecutive day on the X1 today. Its use has enabled scheduled services to be carried out on Geminis 37563/4/8/9. Maintenance takes place on the B9s roughly every 14 days and whilst at King's Lynn, the early shift often get a B9 finished in time to do K5 (the 07.45 to Peterborough), Lowestoft do their servicing in the day and this can only be done when there are sufficient vehicles to cover. Only 37566 of the Lowestoft allocation will require a service this coming week and that not until about Friday, so it will be interesting to see if 34108 returns to its normal haunts on the X2.
34108 earned its keep on K16 today which ends at Lowestoft. B10M 20105 was unusually turned out for K4 this morning, another turn which finishes at Lowestoft, but this was to enable final adjustments to be made to 20107 which had taken over K4 by teatime. Gemini 37572 did K2 this morning, but this turn returned from Lowestoft with a very noisy 20103 which hasn't been about for a few days. 572 then relieved 37563 on L13 as the latter was required for servicing.
20123 had a long day today as it did Y6 which begins with the first westbound service from Yarmouth, Y6 at 05.50 and finishes the day as the 19.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft which arrives at its destination at 23.30. I saw 123 twice today and on both occasions acceleration was accompanied by some rather unhealthy looking grey smoke from the exhaust. At 18.30 this evening it was failed at Wisbech due to overheating, but a top up of coolant saw it resume its duty westbound. Later it was seen departing King's Lynn on the 20.35 eastbound.
B7 20351 remained at Vancouver Avenue today as did 37579 at Rowan Road. 20352 was L12 and 20353 K19. 352 left Wisbech bang on time on the 13.26 to Lowestoft and was being driven with gusto shall we say, at least that's all I'm prepared to divulge here.
Thanks to everyone who has reported sightings this week. Bruce is off to Devon on Thursday so the blog will be less comprehensive as a result.


Friday 10th July 2009 ~ Out of the Country

20353 recently had a 'First' logo transfer applied. It is in the same position as those which were on the B12 Paragons, but differs in that it is red. The other two B7s have the First branding above the numberplate. This is 353 after arrival at King's Lynn this evening on K5.
Those adverts for Easyjet applied wholesale to the Geminis must be working, I reckon everyone's abroad as traffic was incredibly light for a Friday today. Regular readers will know that by Friday afternoon, the X1 timetable often becomes a work of fiction and hence my abbreviation often seen, FST meaning Friday Standard Time. Today the heaviest delay was to K15 12.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough which was running 15 late when seen with 37576. Mid afternoon is always a bad time, but not today as 20123 working K18 10.55 Lowestoft - Peterborough was bang on time departing Wisbech and earlier several services were seen slightly early ! 20104 was another B10M which did well being just 3 late on K4 13.25 ex Lowestoft when I passed it at 17.10. I tend to avoid lists of numbers in this blog as I know this can make for tedious reading, but as we haven't had a complete days log for sometime, here is a list of today's X1 duties and vehicles working them.

K1 37568
K2 37569 changed at Lowestoft and 37564 did the 12.25 to Peterborough
K3 37577 removed at Lynn for servicing and 20107 worked forward at 16.15 to P'bo
K4 20104
K5 37573
Y6 37578
Y7 37566
L8 37565
Y9 37574
L10 34108
L11 20353
L12 37575
Y13 37567
K14 37563
K15 37576
K16 20352
K17 20105
K18 20123
K19 37572

So just when we expected 34108 to be rested, it was out again on L10 and indeed it worked the full turn arriving at King's Lynn at 22.28 tonight. 37564 which had been expected to reappear did the second bit of K2 with 37569 retiring, presumably for servicing. The problem with 20107 the last few days has been its throttle cable and this was fixed at Lynn today. Indeed Bruce saw it being road tested before it took over K3 this afternoon and Rob Brooks reports it returning from Peterborough on K3 still with 'X1 Peterborough' on the blinds ! 20351 was off the road again today despite passing its MOT yesterday and the reason was a malfunctioning disabled ramp, which is scarcely if ever used in practice. Gemini 37579 returned to King's Lynn from warranty repairs at Volvo today and is now at Rowan Road awaiting seatbelts (sound familiar ??). Michael Bryant says the latest FEC fleet list shows 20115/123 as being Lowestoft allocated, 37571 as delicensed and 20130 has apparently been sold for scrap. Driver trainer 20125 has also been delicensed.


Thursday 9th July 2009 ~ Poorly Premieres

Here she is again, but this time in daylight and in a rare glimpse of sunshine between today's showers. 34108 leaves Wisbech for Peterborough on the 12.48 departure (K14). The service was running about 10 minutes late.

Local enthusiasts had cameras at the ready today to capture the expected use of Royale 34108 on the X1. It duly obliged working K14 and any doubts that it might be removed at Lowestoft were soon erased when it came back on the 08.55 and 13.35 return from Peterborough. This turn dies at Lowestoft so it will be interesting to see if it is used again tomorrow. 37564 was stopped at Lowestoft today - one would imagine for a scheduled safety check - so this could well replace 34108 tomorrow and also in the area is B10M 20103.

Ironically it was a bad day for B10Ms today with a number of swaps taking place though whether this was due to ailing vehicles or for other reasons is presently unknown. First change at King's Lynn happened at 11.24 when 20105 working Y7 was replaced by 20104 (a reverse of yesterday's scenario) and this then left on the 11.32 to Lowestoft and was reported by Neville passing Acle returning to Lynn tonight on the early evening arrival. Just over an hour elapsed before 20107 had to be taken off L10 and a refreshed 20105 took the service forward at 13.02 to Lowestoft and completed the turn. Finally 20123 was removed from L12 at 13.54 and 20118 went out on the 14.02 to Lowestoft, this also worked for the reaminder of the day. 20123 was later well enough to be used on schools contract 4, the other two coaches used were 20106/9. B7 Profile 20351 had its MOT today and is now ready to resume work tomorrow. 20121 has gone to A.R.M. for a chassis wash in preparation for its own MOT next week. 37579 remains at Volvo in Norwich and 37570 is also absent.


Wednesday 8th July 2009 ~ Royale Diversion

34108 retains its allover ad for Thatchers cider - the only one left to retain this. Jamie Vendy's atmospheric pic was taken at Peterborough railway station this evening.
34108 departs from Queensgate this evening after a faultless display on the X1 today. Picture by Jamie V

A rather historic day on the X1, but one which began rather quietly. 20123 was used by King's Lynn on K2 and after 20104 passed by on K4 a seemingly endless run of B9s began, these being K5 572, Y6 567, Y7 573, L8 563, Y9 576 and L10 577. L11 ran late but in the event was 566.

I had an early lunch today and was preoccupied with how much my MOT on the Mondeo was going to cost me, so imagine my surprise when on leaving Walpole Highway heading back to Wisbech I was suddenly passed by Volvo Olympian / Alexander Royale 34108 heading back east on L12, dead on time incidentally. This is the first time one of these Lowestoft based vehicles has appeared west of Dereham on an X1 and even when a couple were on loan to King's Lynn they were never used. Turns out (thanks to Syd Eade on EABG) that 34108 is the first one of these to have had its tacho calibrated to enable it to run as an X1 substitute.
With L12's next leg being the 17.47 Lowestoft - Peterborough and 22.05 Peterborough - King's Lynn fevered activity with mobile phones resulted in a posse of fans alerted to the fact that the Royale might complete the diagram. Before this though there was an A47 incident somewhere in the Dereham area and L8 18.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough with 37563 left 40 late. Y9 with 37576 was 30 late arriving and just 2 minutes behind was 37577 on L10 which then had to await a driver off his break and eventually passed Bruce 26 late. The prospects for L12 were therefore not good and when Bruce rang at 21.50 to say it had not gone through Walpole Highway, I feared the worst. Jamie Vendy, the mad fool, decided to risk a tankful of of petrol and take his bike out to Peterborough this evening in the event that 34108 might return. I had just given him the news that it had not been sighted by Bruce when it turned up at Peterborough rail station at 22.02 much to the delight of Mr. Vendy. The pictorial evidence you will see at the top of this blog. I was involved in a pool match tonight, but left early to witness the arrival and departure of 34108 at Wisbech where three people alighted and zero joined it, leaving the driver alone to return to King's Lynn at 23.00. Whether in future Royales will be given the nod over B10Ms remains to be seen, but there seems little doubt that this is just the beginning of a spell of activity by this popular comfortable fleet on the X1. The reason of course for the non-appearance of the Royale at Walpole Highway at 21.08 was that it was running late due to having had to wait for a driver at King's Lynn and took the A47 bypass. Tonight on its return it had just left Wisbech at 23.00 when a lorry fire on the B198 at the Victoria Cafe saw 34108 take another (very rare) diversion round the back of the Cafe avoiding the obstacle.
The appearance of 34108 naturally overshadowed everything else. Tonight 20104 was removed from K4 at 16.37 and 20105 off schools worked forward to Peterborough and then went back all the way to Lowestoft. Last night I reported the use of 'the Beast', 20107, on Y13. On arrival at Lynn at 21.40, the incoming driver tried to shut down 107 whilst waiting for his relief, but 107 refused to switch off - well you can't keep a good bus down can you ? - so Kerry was summoned to take a replacement to the bus station. This turned out to be a Scania and this duly did the 21.50 to Peterborough and return. This morning Richard couldn't fault 20107 and sent it out on K16 where on arrival at Lowestoft it was taken off for examination. What did K16b is at present not known, but seems likely to have been 37568 or 20103. Both these were over at Lowestoft, but it appears neither was deemed fit at 07.15 to work L12 hence the use of 34108. The MOT on 20351 is due to take place tomorrow and next vehicle for same is 20121 so at last it will be fixed. 37579 remains at Volvo, Norwich and the no show of 37570 for two days now suggests that this may well have joined it.

Tuesday 7th July 2009 ~ Back to the Grindstone

After a week or so off, it was a case of returning to work today to pay the bills. This afternoon we had staff training at a nearby hotel which put paid to any afternoon sightings. Bruce meanwhile had a journey over to Cromer, so again afternoon sightings were meagre.
20353 was removed from L8 last night for a scheduled service and it looks as though 20118 worked forward as this appeared on L10 today and duly did the 19.50 Lynn - Peterborough tonight as booked. It wasn't the only B10M out this evening either as Y13 was 107 all day and this meant the beast did the final westbound trip of the day as the 21.50 Lynn - Peterborough. Earlier it was viewed leaving Wisbech a minute early on the 12.18 to Peterborough. Yarmouth turned out 20123 on Y9 today which probably didn't go down too well at Lynn as they thought it was gone for good after repairing it last week, it having been requested back at Norwich. It will no doubt be sent back east tomorrow. The school buses today were 20105/6/9.
Today was notable in that it saw the long awaited return to service of Gemini 37578 which did K19. The unreliable 37565 was used on K18 today which means it should end up at Yarmouth where Ryan reports the arrival of 20131 after its failure in Gorleston yesterday. One final thing for today and an extremely unusual one at that was 20104 seemingly staying in Lynn depot all day without being used after arrival last night. The luxury of a spare vehicle being afforded by the re-entry to traffic of 37578. Timekeeping was very good today save K4 this morning which was almost 30 late with 37573, however by this afternoon all of this loss had been regained. B7 20351 will probably be fit for MOT tomorrow, although it still appeared to have some work pending this evening. 20352 meanwhile was K17 and 20353 K5.


Monday 6th July 2009 ~ Mixed Fortunes

You know the sort of day I mean. Just when you thought you were getting somewhere it all goes wrong. King's Lynn must have felt this today, to begin with the seatbelts arrived for 37578 which means it should be back in service at last tomorrow. A new radiator was fitted successfully to 20106 and this was immediately given a test on the schools run, again all went Ok.
So far so good then, but Carmen driving K1 with the normally reliable 37579 reported problems on her out and back trip to Peterborough, so at just before 08.30 it was removed from K1 for inspection. A failed injector was the cause of the problem and it was sent off to Volvo at Norwich for repairs leaving 20131 to take its place on the 08.32 to Lowestoft. This managed to get as far as Gorleston before it expired with a compressor head gasket failure. K1 was then restarted from Lowestoft with beast 20107. The compounded problems with K1 led to the following turn, K2 taking the strain. Rob Brooks reports 20103 on K2 arriving at Wisbech 28 late this afternoon on the 16.18 to Peterborough. It left 25 late and by this time yet another B10M, 20118 was only a couple of minutes behind on K3. On the way back from Peterborough, 103 took the A47 direct from Wisbech to Lynn to regain some time thus avoiding a commendable Bruce vigil. Bruce did see 118 on time on K3 however.
At the Lowestoft end, the stepping down procedure again manifested itself with Y9 arriving with 37568 but departing as the 15.55 to King's Lynn with 20104, 568 then took L10 which had arrived with 20352. The B7 then did L11 which had arrived with (shock, horror) 37565. Tonight 565 was on L12 and so it remains to be seen whether Y13 which began the day with 37567 ends up with the same bus or whether L12s original vehicle, 37564 turns up. Further B9s have had the new Harry Potter ad applied this weekend including 37573/77.


Sunday 5th July 2009 ~ New for Old

Barely recognisable as the JAH552D which often worked from Peterborough to King's Lynn in the early 1970s, here she waits at Queensgate this afternoon in the sunshine before the rain.
Sponsored by Harry Potter, 37569 arrives at Wisbech this evening on the 18.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft.

Had an afternoon out today to visit Sacrewell Farm where they were having a bus rally. Instead of taking the car decided to X1 it through to Peterborough. Having passed 20103 on the 13.00 to Lowestoft on the way into Wisbech, I waited at the Horsefair for the 13.22 to Peterborough which arrived about 10 late with 37576. The driver seemed pretty intent on making up time, but the density of traffic made this pretty impossible. In the end the journey into Queensgate was accomplished in 34'21" so pretty similar to previous trips and in slightly less than the advertised schedule. I began the journey sitting on the back seat upstairs, but once we got moving, the combination of breeze from the open windows and the fan blower made it feel like I was in a Force 8 gale, so I moved forward a few seats, shut a window and this was much more bearable. Unfortunately a sad little girl called Sian had thoughtfully engraved her initials and motif on the back of the seat I was now facing in bright pink nail varnish. The Lynn cleaning team has been informed !

FLF452 was almost ready to depart for the rally when I arrived at Queensgate and a decision to sit downstairs with Mark C and value the thrash turned out to be the correct one, as passengers on the open top had to abandon the fresh air about half way through the journey due to a downpour. On arrival at Wansford the rain had almost stopped and a pleasant hour or so was enjoyed viewing the exhibits and partaking of coffee and cake before returning on JAH552D. This was allocated to Peterborough at one time and I've certainly travelled on it whilst working the 06.45 Peterborough - King's lynn 336 in the early 70s. (Yes I do feel old writing that !).

Back at Queensgate a decision to reject 37570 on the 16.15 to Lowestoft was made and instead we retired briefly to the Brewery Tap for refreshment. 570 has incidentally acquired the Keep Britain Tidy ad referred to yesterday on the rear. The 17.15 from Queensgate was a reasonably well filled 37577 and I crossed my fingers bearing in mind its failures over the last couple of days. I occupied the position half way along the top deck with a single unopening window. This was undoubtedly the most comfortable position I have found on a Gemini and the journey back would have been a pleasure had it not been for some inconsiderate passengers, one continuously on his mobile who kept saying 'I don't know where I am but I'm near King's Lynn' ! This as we passed through Thorney and again approaching Wisbech. In addition another youth with an ipod somehow managed to fill the top deck with his own personal taste in dance music to keep us amused (not). At least had this been on the FLF, the engine roar would have drowned out the bassline. Another delay free journey saw us roll into Wisbech slightly early in 35'28".
103 would appear to have been the only B10M out today, but Y4 which begins the day at Yarmouth and finishes on the 20.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft had B7 20352 today. Only other thing of note was 37566 on the 20.50 Lynn - Peterborough which I can confirm sounds positively unhealthy still.
I have now established recent mileages for all the B9s so here are the results rounded to the nearest 1000 miles.
80 : 564, 568, 573 & 579.
77 : 563 & 577.
76 : 569.
75 : 567
72 : 570 & 576
71 : 572 & 575
69 : 574
66 : 578
63 : 566
59 : 565

The mileage amassed by 37579 is quite extraordinary as it was one of the last B9s to enter traffic on November 11th last year. At the other end of the scale all those achieving under 70k have seen periods out of traffic and 565 is lagging behind considerably now.

Saturday 4th July 2009 ~ Wedding Excursion

Jamie Vendy sent in this picture of 37575 on K2 in Peterborough this afternoon.
Here's a rather unusual angle of 37566 at Peterborough railway station this afternoon on K1. Photograph by kind permission of Jamie Vendy

One of those events which are unavoidable today - yes a family wedding which took place at King's Lynn Town Hall. This at least meant I was not too far away from the X1 route to keep tabs on things. This morning though it was Bruce who did all the work, he logged 20118 on K5, 20104 on Y6, 37576 on Y7, 37573 on L8, 20103 on Y9, 37569 on Y10, 37568 on L11 and 37577 on the out and back turn, L12. So from this we can already see that three B10Ms were plugging the gaps.

Peter sent a text just after 13.00 to say that three X1s had left King's Lynn in close proximity, these turned out to be Y13, K14 and K15 which are due to depart at 11.45, 12.15 and 12.45 ! These were all B9 operated with 37563/4/79. Reason for the delay is unknown. Rob Brooks was at Wisbech in the afternoon sun and reports :
20353 K16 1348 Wisbech - Peterborough seen off route on Churchill Road 1400
37563 Y13 13.56 Wisbech - Lowestoft 30 late
37564 K14 arrived Wisbech 1436 left 1438 to Lowestoft 12 late
37572 K17 1418 Wisbech - Peterborough arrived 1436 left 1440
37566 K1 1635 Peterborough - Yarmouth
37575 K2 1705 Peterborough - Lowestoft
20118 K5 1840 Peterborough - King's Lynn!! Finally I get a coach to travel on!!
37576 L8 1922 Wisbech - Peterborough arrive 1926 (driver blondie)

Well a few things to comment on here. Why 20353 was on the A1101 is unknown. 37563 had obviously made up quite a bit of time on Y13 to be only 30 late. This diagram is the Saturday quick turn round at Lowestoft (due in at 17.40 and out again at 17.48) but was nevertheless on time arriving at King's Lynn tonight. I know about 37572 Rob, it almost ran me off the road en route to the wedding at the Tilney roundabout in its efforts to regain time. K1 had begun the day with 37567 but had changed at Lowestoft for 37566. The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed that L8 had also changed from 37573 when viewed by Bruce this morning to being 576 tonight. This was because on arrival at Lynn at 18.45, 573 was failed with a broken alternator belt and help had to be summoned. Kerry who'd just refuelled and washed 37576 off Y7 sent this out in its place.
Other unscheduled changes today involved 37577 which failed at Thorney Toll yesterday and today was unable to continue eastbound from Lynn on the 14.02 to Lowestoft. Judging by its absence, the vehicle which went forward appears to have been 20123. Another change this evening was on K4 where 37570 was taken off at 19.25 and 20103 which had just arrived on Y9 was substituted for the journey back to Lowestoft. Whether the removal of 37570/7 was down to component failures or requested for maintenance reasons is unknown.
Other X1 duties of interest today not mentioned thus far were K3 having 20105 and K18 with 20352. The advert man was busy tonight affixing 'Keep Britain Tidy' rear ads to B10Ms 20109/21/31.


Friday 3rd July 2009 ~ Keeping The Show On The Road

Taken from Bruce's driveway this morning was this picture of 20105 making haste on L11 07.15 from Lowestoft. About a minute later 20118 passed by eastbound.
The 10.05 from Peterborough passes the Fair Green turn today with 20118.

After the weather broke today there was some pleasant evening sunshine being enjoyed by the passengers on 37563 which was working L8 15.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough.

The daily efforts which go on at First to keep advertised services running are often glossed over. Credit must be given to Richard and his team at King's Lynn today for doing just that. Initially this morning things looked OK, but at 07.50 the driver of 37577 on K1 rang in from Thorney Toll to say his charge had broken down with an oil leak. Volvo engineers attended and after repairs it was able to return to King's Lynn garage. Thanks to Andy James for alerting me to this. Meanwhile a replacement vehicle had to be found and 20351 which had been sidelined for MOT preparation had to be used as the 08.32 to Lowestoft. This afternoon 351 was taken off so that repaired 37577 could continue eastbound on the 18.02 to Great Yarmouth. Things were pretty desperate on the schools contract front too. 20106 required a new radiator after doing the morning part of Contract 2 and 20123 was planned to be repaired in time to do the afternoon part, however it was back in Vancouver Avenue tonight, so whether it worked is unclear. 20109 and 20131 were the other two coaches used, but 131 was seen departing on a 40 to Hunstanton at 12.53 sounding very unhealthy. The low floor service on this route was clearly abandoned today as a minute before this a 41 left for Hunstanton with vintage Olympian 34933.
The shortage of vehicles for schools contracts was chiefly because two of the regular coaches were working on the X1. 20105 on L11 and 20118 on Y7. In addition two of Lowestoft's B10Ms were out, these being 20103 on K2 and 20104 on K16. Whilst on this subject I should make a correction regarding 20115 which Sam points out has in fact returned to Norwich where it is based and not Ipswich as I said yesterday.
37575 returned to traffic today, but 37566 which Bruce says was sounding very rough on the last couple of occasions he has seen it was kept at Lowestoft today, as indeed was 37565 which has not been out on the X1 since Monday. 37578 is also still off the road as no seatbelts have yet been forthcoming. 20352 was K15 today and 20353 L12. Timekeeping was fairly good for a Friday. Thanks to Bruce and Rob Brooks for regular reports this week.


Thursday 2nd July 2009 ~ The Heat Intensifies

Despite the very high temperatures today, the X1 service seemed once again to manage remarkably well. There were actually a fair few swaps, but I don't think any of these can be attributed to vehicles malfunctioning in the heat. The second day of the Royal Norfolk Show seemed to affect eastbound services only and as a result several Lowestoft arrivals were held over to do the turn following that to which they were rostered. K17 was the first turn affected and this came in with 37579 but left westbound at 10.25 with 37568. You may recall that last night 568 was despatched from Lynn to rescue a stranded eastbound service with a broken windscreen. Well the stricken vehicle turned out to be 20353 on K18 (at least that what makes sense) as 353 was back at Lynn this morning and 568 was at Lowestoft. Following this services from Lowestoft ran as follows :

K18 in with 37576 out with 37579
K19 in with 37573 out with 37576
K1 in with 20353 out with 37573
K2 in with 20104 out with 20353
So you get the picture ? After this normality resumed with 37572 sticking on K5 and 20104 becoming spare. Later though 37566 on L10 was kept at Lowestoft and 20104 headed back west on the 16.25 to Peterborough.
So much for the Royal Norfolk Show delays, there were other swaps too. K4 with 20352 was halted at Lynn at 09.54 with replacement brake linings required, so 20118 was procured and worked the rest of the turn. This left King's Lynn short to cover Hunstanton schools turns, so 20106 which had been merrily plying its trade on Y9 was removed at Lynn at 12.24 and - at least it would seem, though confirmation required - replaced by a repaired 20352.
Y6 was not seen today so again reports are welcome, but it would seem most likely to have been 37563. B10Ms out today were 20103/4/5/6/18. 20103 was K15 (extremely unusual for this turn to be anything other than a Lynn vehicle, but especially notable being a LFT B10M) and 20105 did K16 which, ironically, ends at Lowestoft. Gemini 37575 passed its MOT today and is now available for traffic again.
20121 has been out on a test run and may need a new ecu, it should be next for attention once 20123 has received a new injector pipe on which work is ongoing. Sam reports that 20115 is no longer at Lowestoft and is on loan to Ipswich, so its hectic spell of X1 activity may yet prove to be a flash in the pan.


Wednesday 1st July 2009 ~ The Royal Norfolk Slow

Handsome 20106 is seen between the Highways - Walton and Walpole - this morning on K3 (of course). The Royal Norfolk Show played havoc with today's schedules however and 106 was swapped at Lowestoft.
20131 has just been rejected in favour of 37570, but there are no such problems for 34921 (right and out of picture) which is off to Sunny Hunny.

Summer of Love 1. 37566 with original Easyjet ad for flights to Majorca leaves Lynn on K14. It had arrived 30 late on Y13.

Summer of Love 2. 37568 with the fishy Easyjet ad for Malaga leaves King's Lynn at 12.32 for Lowestoft on Y9.

Summer of Love 3. Here's 37564 arriving at Lynn 62 late today on K14 sporting the most common version of the Easyjet ad around at the moment, advertising flights from Luton to Athens.
I'm on holiday from work this week and decided to devote some of today to monitoring the X1. My day began quite successfully as I guessed that K3 would be 20106 and was able as you can see above, to get a picture of it at work, having felt that it has been rather neglected pictorially for a while. Next I discovered from Bruce that K5 was 37576 and was rather pleased as I'd predicted this yesterday (my predictions rarely succeed !). Thanks to Rob Brooks also for some early reports today.
I set out for King's Lynn at around 10.30 and saw 20104 at Tilney All Saints on time working L10. After a fleeting visit to Rowan Road where the only relevant occupants were 20121, 37578 awaiting repairs plus 20118/131 and 34933 off schools turns, I headed for town and then passed L11 with 20109. I knew then that all was not plain sailing as 20109 is restricted at the moment due to a faulty oil seal and must have come on at Lynn, so I headed for the bus station to see what was going on. At around 11.05 20131 turned up from Rowan Road with 'X1 Peterborough' on the blinds. It parked in the middle and then at 11.13 37570 arrived on what at first appeared to be L12, but it soon became apparent that this was L11 running 36 late. There was then some animated conversation between the incoming driver and a fitter and 20131 drew up alongside. After further deliberation, it was decided that 20131 was not needed and that 570 was able to proceed. 20131 then departed but not before Blondie (for twas she who was the forward driver), chased after 131 on foot as she'd left her mobile phone on it. With this recovered she then rejoined 570, passengers boarded and it then set sail at 11.21. It transpired that 131 has a faulty ecu and 570 is still having problems with its ABS, so it was a toss up which one would go, but Karen preferring B9s decided on 570. After this a pattern emerged where the incoming vehicle from Lowestoft would depart having dropped a turn, for example 20103 arrived at 11.37, 30 late on L12 and then worked forward as Y13. Next came 37566, 31 late on Y13 and then departing 15 late as K14. After the arrival of 566 at 12.09, there was then a lull on westbound arrivals of exactly an hour when at 13.09 20105 came in with 37564 immediately behind and after a further 2 minutes 37574 also arrived from the east. These were K16 on time, K14 62 late and K15 30 late ! Some clever arranging took place and then 37564 went on to the Peterborough stand departing at around 13.20 now as K16, 37574 went empty to Wisbech to resume K15 and 20105 relieved 20109 on L11 leaving eastbound 16 late. All this meant that there was a gap in Peterborough departures between 566 at 12.29 and 564 at 13.20.
With the arrival of 37579 on K17 things seemed to settle down, however, there may have been further changes on Lowestoft arrivals as later K18 which had started out with 37563 had 20353 (Bruce saw it and even Richard was unaware thinking it was still blown up at Lowestoft !) and 20106 on K3 ended up (we think) on K4. This meant 20352 returned on K3 (possibly having turned round at Yarmouth as it was originally on K4). The reason for the almighty delays was queueing traffic to the Royal Norfolk showground with four mile tailbacks at one stage. This is a two day event, so may be we can expect the same tomorrow. 20353 had been at Lowestoft with a suspension problem and after this was cured it's indicators stopped working, however, it was fixed for K18 this afternoon. The days events weren't finished though as tonight 37568 which had arrived at Vancouver Avenue off Y9 at about 19.30 was hastily refuelled and sent out to Dereham to relieve a fellow B9 which had a smashed windscreen.
Michael Bryant and Sam both witnessed 20107 on the X2 today and Trident 32801 appeared on the turn described yesterday. Michael also saw 37565 today. It was heading for Norwich down the Loddon bypass at around 9am and may possibly have been on a special in connection with the Royal Norfolk show. It had 'First' on the destination display. Another interesting vehicle seen by Michael was 20127 which was seen heading out of Norwich on the Lowestoft route at 07.25, but not it would seem on an X2. We've already mentioned the fact that 20131 almost worked to Peterborough this morning, but it did later see some action when it worked the 12.35 service 40 from Lynn to Hunstanton before doing schools contract no. 2 at teatime. What will tomorrow bring ??