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Friday October 30th 2009 ~ Passing the Milestone

The last two B9 Geminis to pass the 100 thousand mile mark did so this week, these being Lowestoft's 37566 and King's Lynn's 37573. Just a reminder that at this stage last year there were only eight B9s in service and two of these were 566 & 573 !
There were two B7s out today, 37158 beginning the day on K17 and 37160 on K5. more back up was provided by 20103 on K2, 20104 on L10 and 20107 on L12. 20109 was down to work K15 this morning, but 37573 ended up on this turn and there is some doubt as to whether 109 worked at all.
37574 returned to action today following attention at Volvo and relieved 37158 on K17 enabling the B7 to return to local work. Late tonight 37576 on K18 was turned round at Yarmouth and came back to Lynn on the last leg of K19 with 37572 retiring to Yarmouth garage off K19.
Michael B reports 20115 being seen in Norwich, but, "it didn't appear to be doing anything". Michael also confirms that 37160 did complete its turn on Monday, so 37567 just magically appeared at King's Lynn on Tuesday morning - a bit early for Halloween.
Not many daytime services were seen today, but FST seemed to have gained a foothold early this afternoon when 37573 which had been 16 late at Walton Highway going west, was seen by Bruce 37 late returning. The previous turn, K14 was a mere 26 late coming back from Peterborough !


Thursday 29th October 2009 ~ Diversions Commence

As from this morning, the South Brink at Wisbech is closed for strengthening the flood defences, so between Wisbech Horsefair and the Cromwell Road roundabout the X1 is now being diverted via the A1101 and Wisbech Western Bypass. Timekeeping was not adversely affected first thing as I met 34108s attractive frame looming out of the mist at Walpole Highway this morning just a minute late, shortly before it passed the first westbound through service from Yarmouth (Y6) with 20107 which was bang on time. The 08.56 Wisbech - Lowestoft (K3) was seen departing on time with 37570, but I then had to go to work at the South Lincs establishment which curtailed my viewing. With Bruce out at Nottingham today, it was left until this evening before a picture of the days events could be drawn. Only turn unaccounted for in the end was Y13.
K4 this morning began with 20106 and this went Lynn to Peterborough and back while 37579 was serviced, the Gemini is thought to have taken over at 10.02. 20109 was at Lynn tonight, I think off Y9 and 20103 sat in the bus station centre with X1 Peterborough on the blinds, so may be a swap took place somewhere. 37158 worked K17 for the fourth consecutive day.
For the second night running, the 19.50 Lynn - Peterborough (L10) was 12 late tonight, 37565 was the vehicle.

Wednesday 28th October 2009 ~ Nothing Untoward

About as normal a day as one gets on the X1 today. Bruce saw all but two diagrams and the only delays were this evening when the 19.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough and 19.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft were both 12 minutes behind time.
B10Ms were seen on K1 : 20107, K2 20104 and L8 20109. Royale 34108 worked L11 from Lowestoft this morning ending up at Lynn this evening. Once again only one B7 was active on the route, this being 37158 which was again on K17, but 37160 is now back at King's Lynn and also confirmed as back in traffic is 37564 which worked Y6 today.


Tuesday 27th October 2009 ~ A Christmas Carol - What Already ?

A visit to King's Lynn tonight, with me feeling much recovered in order to due a massive grocery shop and a look in at the bus station and garage. Sitting resting in Vancouver Avenue having arrived earlier was 37568 complete with an ad for 'A Christmas Carol' sponsored by Morrisons. Have I really been absent that long ? Oh well, it's only 59 days to Xmas after all ! So what of the 300th day of 2009 ? Well firstly Gemini 37574, the one which set a record for consecutive days in traffic, has expired at last. It came in on Saturday evening and has had to go off to Volvo for a replacement injector. For the record it worked for 88 out of 89 days from July 27th until Saturday which is excellent by any standard.
There were lots of swaps at Lowestoft today, presumably due to late running. The first arrival from King's Lynn (K14) came in with 37568, but departed for Peterborough at 08.55 with Royale 34108. Things then settled down until lunchtime when K1 07.00 from Peterborough due in at 11.40 arrived with 20103 and then departed at 11.55 with an unknown quantity !! This is believed to have possibly been the errant B7 from yesterday, 37160. 20103 was then diverted on to the X2 and Michael Bryant reports it working the 12.08 Lowestoft - Norwich.
Next change also involved a B10M, King's Lynn's pride and joy 20109 was sent out on a safe turn (K3) which sees it back home for an early bath at 18.58, however, that was sabotaged by Lowestoft as after it arrived at 12.40, it was also switched to an X2 turn departing at 13.08 to Norwich. 37568 which had been spare one assumes since arriving on K14 at 08.40 then took K3 back westbound at 12.55. It will be interesting to discover if 37160 did do the second part of K1, as the only other possibilities are 37159 which is due out of Volvo and 37564 which has been absent since last Wednesday. I am being posted out to South Lincolnshire for a couple of days now, so all sightings will be welcome at the usual address. As for today many thanks go once again to 'the eyes at Walpole Highway', Bruce Billingham and also to Michael in Beccles.

Monday 26th October 2009 ~ Right Hand Man To The Rescue

I was in a lot of pain this morning and when I manged to finally get to the PC, I found the following email from Bruce addressed to me and a few others :
Can't find the Blogmeister so far today so watching more carefully than usual.

So far today at 11.09:-
K2 a B10M running a couple of minutes early(Curses!)
K3 20109
K5 37160
Y6 579
Y7 563
L8 578
Y9 575
L10 570
L11 20103

This was later added to thus :
Well I have found the Blogmeister - he still has gout (like all retired Colonels in the Household Cavalry)
Anyway to complete the picture (late evening swaps excluded):-

K1 569
K2 20104
L12 perpetually late 568
Y13 572
K14 566
K15 577
K16 576
K17 37158
K18 565
K19 573

Now whats for tea?

A thorough rundown there then and it only remains for me to fill in the swaps, of which there only seems to have been one. 37160 on K5 was kept at Lowestoft (tut tut) and 37567 came back in its place. An email from Sam and Jamie V alerting me to the fact that 37575 had expired at Gunton Tesco on the last leg of Y9 came to nothing as 575 came into Lynn as expected. Thanks once again to BB for all his hard work today.


Sunday 25th October 2009 ~ A Flying B10

An entirely B9 worked service was prevented today by dear old 20105 which worked turn Y5, viz 08.30 Yarmouth - Peterborough, 12.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft, 16.48 Lowestoft - Peterborough & finally the 21.10 Peterborough - King's Lynn on which it was seen flying along at just after 22.00 tonight. Meanwhile the reason for 105s working, 37565 was in Lynn garage having received a replacement top windscreen.

Saturday 24th October 2009 ~ Driver Wanted

We haven't seen 20115 on the X1 for a while and last Sunday (17th), Jim Long photographed it after it had unexpectedly arrived in Ipswich !
I kept a fairly low profile again today, but our regular contributors kept me up to date. There were two 'incidents' to report. Firstly 37565 working turn K18 had a bird smash its top deck windscreen in the Necton area and it had to be replaced. This meant the rare sight of 20105 on express duty again and this worked back on the 15.35 Peterborough - Yarmouth. Then this evening 37566 arrived at King's Lynn as the 16.25 from Lowestoft (Y10), but there was no driver to take the service forward to Peterborough at 19.50, so it was cancelled as was the 21.10 Peterborough - King's Lynn. Rob Brooks was one of the passengers waiting at Peterborough, so he retired to the pub and then took the 22.10 with 37573 along with various obnoxious characters on the top deck which seems to be a regular hazard of late night X1 travel, particularly at weekends.

Gemini 37564 has now not been seen since Tuesday and this follows a similar 'disappearance' by 37563 which is now back and worked L9 today. Diagrams not worked by B9s today were : K5 37158, L11 20104, Y7 20107 and K3 20109 in addition to 20105 mentioned previously. Michael Bryant saw B7 Geminis 37156/7 still at work in Norwich today.


Friday October 23rd 2009 ~ One Year Later : Part 2

Exactly a year ago today, the first B9 Geminis entered service on the X1. On that occasion 37563/67/68/71 were in traffic and today, of these, all but the accident damaged 37571 were on the road again. 37568 has amassed 114.5 thousand miles and today clocked up another 408 by working Y13. For the record, 37563 worked L8 and by coincidence had Jamie R as a passenger as it had done a year ago. This time it was almost on time on the 19.10 from Walpole Highway to Peterborough. 37567 did K1 which is still regularly worked by a B10M coach. 20103/4/7 were all in service on the X1 a year ago and today was no different. 103 did the 08.55 from Lowestoft replacing 37569 which had come over on K14. 20104 was K2 and 20107 was back on K4.
Some things have changed though. 34108 put in a brief appearance this morning. The Royale had been on repairs at Yarmouth for sometime, but today worked Y7 06.10 Yarmouth - Peterborough & the 10.05 return to Lowestoft. It then retired and 37572 which had done the early part of K16 took over. K16 itself then had 37569 off K14 just to confuse things.
There was a single swap at King's Lynn when Y9 arrived with 37579 and this was changed for 20106 for the 09.45 to Peterborough. The coach worked for the remainder of the day on Y9. There was one other coach out today and this was 20109 which did L12 but which looked like being changed for Gemini 37570 (off L11) for the 20.50 Lynn - Peterborough tonight. 37564/6 were both missing today.
Very many thanks to Bruce today for holding the fort while I endured a bad attack of gout (yes really !). Rob Brooks sent the following report : "37575 K3 0818 Wisbech - Peterborough arr 0818 dep 0821 and 20104 K2 0821 Wisbech - Lowestoft arr 0819 dep 0821, my Mum got the coach, and I got the B9 that I've had nearly 300miles on now. Not fair!! 37158 0805 Peterborough - Lowestoft and finally 'The Beast' 0835 Peterborough - Lowestoft passing Eye 0857. I'm off to Birmingham today and London tomorrow as a little pre-birthday trip, so won't be able to provide anything until Saturday evening". Well thanks as ever Rob.
Andy James was in touch this afternoon from King's Lynn and said " Hi Gerard, 37578 has just left here 45 late on the 16.32 to Lowestoft (K17) and 37573 is close behind running 10 late on K18 17.02 to Gorleston !". Today was supposedly 'Black Friday' when traffic traditionally comes to a stand, so may be this was to be expected. Delays on morning services from Peterborough however, seemed much the same as usual with 37158 on K3 15 late, 20107 on K4 12 late, 37575 on K5 8 late and 37577 on Y6 16 late. Big bus 34108 on Y7 was 6 late. All times eastbound monitored at WH by Bruce.
Amongst service alterations from early December are modifications to the X1 timetable and the re-introduction of a service X3 from Norwich to Shipdham via Dereham running hourly. There are also big changes planned for King's Lynn town services. Thanks to Sam for the tip off.


Thursday 22nd October 2009 ~ All Change Again

The o7.45 Lowestoft - Peterborough (L12) was once again involved in changes today. Whatever began the turn, I would imagine 20109 or possibly 37564, came off at King's Lynn with 20118 going forward at 11.15, then for the second day running this in turn came off at 14.02 with 37569 returning to Lowestoft. 569 had started the day on K15 and gave way to 37567 to work the 12.45 to Peterborough. 567 itself had been on K14 and what took this turn forward is unknown. One other change involved Y9 which was 37566, this was swapped at Lowestoft with 20107 coming back on the 15.55 to King's Lynn. B7 37159 is still at Volvo for attention to its speed limiter.
The B10M quota today was 20127 on K4, 20103 on Y6, 20104 on Y7, 20107 on Y9b and L12 as described above.

Wednesday 21st October 2009 ~ Returns and Replacements

37563 & 37570 returned to the X1 today, but there were also plenty of B10M coaches too - five in total. Fighting there way through the rain were 20103 on K1, 20104 on K4 and 20107 on K16. In addition, L12 managed to get three different coaches. 20118 brought the service into King's Lynn at 11.07, 20106 then replaced it and did a trip to Peterborough and back before 20127 took out the 14.02 to Lowestoft. B7 Gemini 37158 did K17 today, but 37160 remained on local work.
Morning services returning from Peterborough viewed by Bruce and Rob Brooks were delayed as follows : K3 37576 18 late, K4 20104 21 late, K5 37578 17 late, Y6 37572 11 late and Y7 37574 was already 14 late going west. Bruce says 37567 on L10 10.15 from Lynn to Peterborough somehow avoided passing through Walpole Highway and presumably the other villages too. Rob B reports 37575 on K15 12.45 Lynn - Peterborough which popped into Vancouver Avenue for brief attention at 12.54. 37570 came out of Yarmouth on Y13 and 37563 returned this evening on Y7 instead of 37574 which had done the first part of this turn.
I spoke with Doreen this afternoon, a regular X1 passenger who actually prefers the coaches despite being a senior citizen. She sympathised with the drivers who currently have to negotiate so many sets of roadworks and still try to keep time. On Saturday, she plans to travel with a friend to Norwich, so I hope to report on her experience afterwards.


Tuesday 20th October 2009 ~ The Pendulum Swings

Only a few days ago I was talking of the prospect of there being just a single B10M Premiere coach out on the X1, such was the growing reliability of the Gemini fleet. Well today there was indeed one B10M Premiere out - along with five others !!!
How can a big company like 'First' get away with using N & P reg step entrance coaches on its flagship route in 2009 ? Well the reason is of course because passengers see very little reason to complain when a comfy coach arrives to take them to their destination on time, however old it might be and although it is probably grossly politically incorrect to say so, very few people are bothered about the lack of low floor access. It is a fact, which may seem rather unpalatable to those who make such decisions, that the percentage of disabled people who are unable to mount a couple of steps is actually a very small minority. People who suffer from such a chronic condition are also highly unlikely to take a bus. I await your comments, but speak with some knowledge having had a Father who was totally disabled for ten years. I would never have considered taking him by bus, even if low floor vehicles had been guaranteed and yes of course I do realise that not everyone has access to a car. Anyway that's enough from me on what is rather a sensitive issue - what of today's X1 ?
Even though six B10M coaches were employed, there was still a long period when a low floor trip was guaranteed. Commencing with the 12.48 from Wisbech to Peterborough (K14), subsequent services were completely B9 operated up to and including the 17.18 (K4). The main reason for using so many coaches seems to be because 37158/160 were out on Hunstanton services and schools contracts, probably because Volvo B7TLs 30886 & 30889 were under repair at King's Lynn. 37159 is also absent at Volvo.
I'm no clearer discovering what exactly happened yesterday but one addition comes from Michael Bryant who noted 20104 on the 12.08 Lowestoft - Norwich X2. Today the X1 saw 20109 on K5, 20118 on Y6 and in line for returning to Lowestoft again this evening, 20103 on Y7, 20127 on Y9, 20104 on L10 and 20107 on Y13. 20109 was taken off its duty at Lowestoft and then worked the 14.08 Lowestoft - Norwich X2, with 37565 taking K5 back west. Most surprising though was the return of 20127 last seen on September 3rd giving wait to the theory that 20126 may have expired at some stage yesterday. Apart from delays caused by the ongoing Peterborough roadworks in the morning peak, punctuality was good today.
Confirmation comes today that South Brink in Wisbech will be closed for 8 weeks from 29th October which will necessitate diversion of the X1 via the Wisbech bypass and the A1101 once more.

Monday 19th October 2009 ~ The Unexplained !

It was a strange old day for the B10M coaches today. Once again 20104 didn't work on the X1, but as King's Lynn had three arrive on Saturday evening on the X1 (the three pictured in last nights photo), they were all expected to work back east today and that is what happened after a fashion. 20103 did K1 impeccably, 20107 was half an hour behind on K2 and with 37160 the only B7 out today on K3 being 27 late going east from Wisbech this morning , this was then followed by 20126 just 9 late on K4. This was how the day started, but by this evening two more B10M coaches had worked on the route. 20109 appeared at Wisbech on time as L8 06.15 from Gorleston but must have come on at Lynn, possibly after a failure en route - 37570 had been expected. Later K4 which had started with 20126 had 20118 instead and this worked throughout on the 18.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft. 109 came off L8 at some stage and tonight was at the Rowan Road compound, however, L8 was seen with an unidentified B10M arriving at Wisbech a few minutes late for the 21.00 to Lowestoft. It looked like 20126 ! Bit of detective work required here !
John W emailed today saying "Brief call at Lynn Bus Station around 11 am saw 37576 leave for Lowestoft replacing 37573 which sprinted away "Not in Service". I noticed a B7 out on 41 this PM (probably 14.50 ex KL), but was too far away to see which of the three it was". Well K5 was 37573 and 37576 followed on Y6 John, so presumably late running meant 573 went eastbound empty to regain some time. The B7 out on Hunstanton's was 37158 which was in the washer at the garage this evening having just finished the turn. New advertising campaigns for Mars Planets and Easy Jet have been launched this weekend and are now appearing on B9 Geminis.


Sunday 18th October 2009 ~ Short Report

20107, 20103 and 20126 lined up ready for X1 work tomorrow in King's Lynn garage this evening. Apologies for the camera shake.

I had to go to Bradford today but can report that the X1 was entirely B9 Gemini worked by the following : 37565/8/9/72/4-9. 37572 was around 10 late heading to Peterborough this teatime.

Saturday 17th October 2009 ~ Gathering of the Clan

Tonight all the Lowestoft based Geminis finished their turns at either Lowestoft or Yarmouth as did 37570 & 37577. King's Lynn played host to 20103 (L11), 20107 (Y7 again!) and 20126 (L9) as well as 37158/160 and its B9s with the exception of the two already mentioned. 37159 has returned to Volvo for the increase in maximum speed to 56mph to be fixed.
Going back briefly to Friday night and 37160 on K17 was unable to complete the turn and 37573 off K18 came back to Lynn. There was also a swap in the other direction with Y6 19.05 ex Peterborough having 37564 changed for 37568 at King's Lynn.
Timekeeping during the middle of the day was bad with the following noted returning from Peterborough through Walpole Highway : Y6 with 37567 12 late, Y7 20107 16 late, Y10 37574 18 late, L11 20103 30 late, L12 37565 8 late and Y13 37160 11 late.


Friday October 16th 2009 ~ One Year Later (Part 1)

King's Lynn depot this evening, exactly 12 months since the first Gemini arrivals. 37566 stands next to the earlier built 37158 with 37575 in the background.
37572 complete with wheeltrims (shortly to be removed) was tonight's first King's Lynn arrival off K19.

37575, the highest mileage Lynn based Gemini gets a bath at its home garage this evening

Well a year is a long time in politics they say, the same could be said in public transport. Tonight it was exactly twelve months since I first set eyes on the first X1 Geminis. If you look back at the relevant blog you will see the pictures I took on that occasion and above are some taken this evening with the necessary permision.
Despite various reports around the turn of the year predicting their removal from the route for a variety of reasons, the B9s continue to ply the route and look set to continue in 2010. How long the B10M coaches will continue to supplement the fleet is uncertain. Every time they seem to be on the point of making a dignified exit, problems with newer vehicles give them a reprieve. We have seen this with the Geminis and the Profiles. The majority of people in the company who I have spoken to have nothing but praise for these coaches and it is ironic that while little trouble has been experienced with the engines, it is the corroding bodywork which will be responsible for the eventual demise of the type. About the only thing the B9s have going for them from a drivers point of view is that being shorter than a B10M, they are easier to manouevre.

There was virtual gridlock in King's Lynn for a time this morning after a fatal accident on the eastern bypass saw the Hardwick roundabout come to a stand. In addition roadworks with three way temporary lights on South Brink in Wisbech and at Walton Highway were then joined by a further set at Terrington St. John. Couple this with the ongoing Peterborough roadworks and it is a wonder that the service didn't capitulate completely.
Although very few diagrams were viewed during the morning, with some help from Bruce I have managed to piece together what worked all but one turn. The missing one is Y13 which is somewhere between Peterborough and Wisbech as I write this, but I will not be driving up to Walpole Highway at 00.10 to check which bus is working it ! I will rest with the theory that it should be 37578. Worst affected by the delays was K15 09.26 from Lowestoft which is due through Walton Highway at 13.05 and was seen at this location at 13.40. The next service with 20103 was a mere 23 late going to Peterborough. Things had eased by teatime and 20107 was just a few minutes late on K4. Incidentally 107 has become associated with a two day cycle this week. Its workings since last Friday have been K4 on Friday, Monday, Wednesday and again today and Y7 on Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday. Each two day cycle has seen it accumulate 717 miles - not bad for an old'un. 20104 was the other B10M out and this worked K2. There was no sign of 20126 today, but as I have indicated morning services were not fully observed.
K19 had a vehicle change this afternoon, 37572 which was working the turn was swapped at King's Lynn for 37579 and this did the 17.32 to Lowestoft. 37568 seen arriving at King's Lynn this evening on L11 did so with 'Not In Service' showing on the front instead of the normal display. On my way to Lynn tonight found myself following 37577 on K5 doing a respectable 60 on the A47 in the traffic flow, certainly a slightly higher speed than I would have expected. 37567/8 now carry small rear adverts for Kwikfit tyres.

Thursday October 15th 2009 ~ A Question of Temperature ?

The onset of cooler weather has seen the embarrassing failure rate of the B9s tempered somewhat, with the injector faults seeming to be a consequence of hotter operating conditions. Speaking of heat, there was much adverse criticism of the Geminis last Winter when they were put into traffic without working heaters. I wonder if this year will be any better in this respect ? Sam says "Heard a rumour that only 2 B9s were upped to 62 mph and they overheated, so the rest weren't done? Is this true or a load of Elephant s**t?" Well I am informed by those in the know Sam, that the reason that the top speed of the B9s seems to be about 56 mph is that an increase to 62 would only have been possible by changing the type of tyres used and this would have been an expensive exercise.
Today was pretty uneventful. 20126 was sent out on K2 which finishes at Lowestoft. The other B10Ms were used as follows : 20103 Y9 commencing with the 15.55 from Lowestoft replacing 37569, 20104 on L12 and 20107 on Y7.
B7 37159 was not used today and it is due for more maintenance tomorrow. 37572 had a day off at Lynn today as well and 37563 has not been seen since Tuesday.


Wednesday October 14th 2009 ~ Return of an Old Friend

Here is B7 37160 photographed by Rob Brooks this evening after arrival at Queensgate on L10 16.25 from Lowestoft. Rob says the seats are infinitely better spaced than on the B9s.

June 13th was the last time 20126 worked on the mainstream X1, so it came as something of a surprise this morning when I received a text from Bruce saying L12 20126, followed by 15 exclamation marks. 37563 had been in line to work this turn, so may be 126 was either sent to LFT to assist or it came on as a replacement at Yarmouth. Y9 began the day with 37567 but this was changed at Lowestoft for 37568 which came in to Lynn on the 15.55 from Lowestoft.

The Peterborough roadworks continue to cause delays during the morning peak. K4 was heavily delayed today - it was 9 late passing Walpole Highway on the 07.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough and 33 late returning. This evening 107 was still on K4 with its arrears reduced to just 5 minutes. 20103 & 20104 both ended up at Lowestoft tonight off K16 and K2. All three B7s were on the X1 today which meant that work could be done on 37570/73 at Lynn.

20109 is being used on an evening rail replacement contract this week covering engineering work on the line between Ely and King's Lynn.

Tuesday 13th October 2009 ~ No Fool Like An Old Fool

You would think I would know by now that it is never wise to assume things on the buses. My surmising as to how 34113 'escaped' back to Lowestoft was just that. In fact it remained imprisoned in King's Lynn garage on Sunday and was then used on a few town services yesterday due to a temporary vehicle shortage. Apparently it has a tachograph, but it needs calibrating. This afternoon a Lowestoft driver brought 37566 to King's Lynn empty and returned east with 34113. 566 itself was immediately pressed into service when it took the 17.02 to Great Yarmouth out of Lynn replacing 37573 which was due for servicing. Another swap today was 37572 which was taken off K19 with repaired 37574 working forward from Lynn to Peterborough at 14.45.
Another thing I missed yesterday was reporting that 37568 had been out on the X2. Michael F saw it departing on the 15.08 to Norwich, he says "My main reason for my afternoon out was to clear up my three remaining Yarmouth allocation sightings, including the newly transferred 34872 from Ipswich this weekend. What a result! 34872 was resting inside the depot along with 20126 and a walk round to the rear of the depot revealed 20129 fast asleep in the warm afternoon sunshine!". Despite 568 working on the X2 yesterday, it didn't work on the X1 today. Instead 20103 & 20104 came out again on L10 and L12. 20107 came over again on Y7 and surprisingly 20106 worked K5 due to 37159 having an ABS fault. The other two B7s unusually did coastal terminating turns, 37158 on K1 and 37160 on K16.


Monday 12th October 2009 ~ Disruption in The Pipeline

Last winter you may recall, there were temporary traffic lights on Cromwell Road in Wisbech, near the Tesco store which caused all sorts of delays to the X1 service, including an unofficial diversion via the A1101. Well it would seem that a similar diversion may well be put into effect in November when, for approximately 5 weeks the South Brink between Wisbech town bridge and the Weasenham Lane junction will be completely closed to allow improvements to be made to the flood defences alongside the River Nene. More importantly, this means the buses won't pass my place of work, so the blog may not be so concise !
Roadworks with temporary lights have been in situ on South Brink for about a week already with single line traffic and today a further set of three way lights have been temporarily installed at the B198 junction where the X1 turns off to Walton Highway. This is one of Norfolk's accident blackspots which urgently needs either a roundabout or traffic lights to prevent the large number of accidents which occur here. It is not known if any action along these lines is taking place, but delays to the X1 because of the roadworks described are inevitable. Timekeeping was exemplary today and the few minutes lost at these two delays was soon made up.
There was no sign of 37568 today, the Gemini which was taken out of traffic for 34113 to work on Saturday evening and also absent again was 37566 which definitely seems to have issues and makes it less relaible than the other B9s. Repairs to 37572 were finished at King's Lynn today and tomorrow 37574 is due to have some outstanding repairs fixed. All services originating at the coast were B9 worked today and the three regular B10Ms were despatched by King's Lynn as follows : 20103 K2, 20104 K16 and 20107 K4. If 37566/8 are fit for service tomorrow, this could see 103 & 104 replaced. All three B7 Geminis were in action today and all on the ex Profile turns. 37158 did K5, 37159 K3 and 37160 K17.

Sunday 11th October 2009 ~ Early Departure ?

After its surprise appearance last night, Royale 34113 seems to have departed very quickly. I don't THINK it worked either the 20.35 or 21.35 to Lowestoft last night, so it probably went first thing this morning ? Looks like it was replaced by 37563 on arrival at Lowestoft, as this was seen on K3 later. One turn was not seen today, but all others were B9s except the last chuck out from Yarmouth which got 20103. Any further news on 34113's return would be appreciated.


Saturday 10th October 2009 ~ A Right Royale Surprise

Gemini 37572 spent a third consecutive day in King's Lynn garage today and keeping it company was B7 37159. The other two B7s did the old favourite Profile turns with 37158 on K3 and 37160 on K5.
37566 was unavailable today and when 37568 arrived in Lowestoft this afternoon and was required at the garage, it was replaced by Royale 34113. The first time this has appeared on X1 duty at King's Lynn, so presumably like 34108, it has the necessary tachograph. The regular trio of B10Ms were out as follows : 20103 K1, 20104 Y13 and 20107 Y7.
Now an update on Gemini adverts :
563 Salt - Food Standards Agency / Saw VI/LV Com
564Chocolatey squares /Reed Escape routes/ Keep Britain Tidy
565Chocolatey squares /Reed Escape routes/Sure Start Childrens
566T Mobile 2 Free Texts /Saw VI /LV Com
567Salt - Food Standards Agency /Saw VI/Confused. Com
568Salt - Food Standards Agency/Saw VI/ NIL
569Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VI/Lifeguards
570Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VI/Confused. Com
572Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VI/Part Time Courses NCC
573Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VI/Confused. Com
574Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VI/Confused. Com
575Dorian Gray/Saw VI/LV Com
576Orange/Reed - Boss/Lowestoft College
577Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VIKeep Britain Tidy
578Salt - Food Standards Agency/Saw VI/Part Time Courses NCC
579Kenco Less Packaging/Saw VI/Lifeguards


Friday October 9th 2009 ~ Premier Afternoon

Jamie V has 'converted' 37160 into B9 livery for us !
For some reason only one B7 was used on X1 work today, this being 37158 on L10. 37160 continued to do locals and 37159 was in the King's Lynn garage this evening under repair. B10M 20109 returned to traffic yesterday, having been sidelined since August 9th and it earned its keep on Hunstanton schools work. 20121 is also engaged on these duties and away from the stresses of the X1 is behaving itself. On the X1 though 20106 stood in for a B7 today and worked K3. It was 15 late returning from Peterborough this morning and tonight it was 21 late. I viewed it queueing to enter Wisbech at 17.06 and shortly afterwards passed 20107 on K4 going like the proverbial bat out of hell around 8 minutes late. Average lateness today was around 9 minutes, but early on things were pretty good. Y6 was slightly early at Walpole Highway with 37565 this morning which is very rare and the corresponding eastbound service, K2 was just one minute late.

Apart from the unexpected working by 20106, the other B10Ms out were 20103 on Y7 and as mentioned aboove 107 on K4. This afternoon 37566 on K18 was replaced by an unidentified B9 believed to be 20104.

Thursday 8th October 2009 ~ What Happened Today ?

Vancouver Avenue on Sunday evening . Photo P. Barclay (with permission from FEC)
Well the answer is, nothing much ! King's Lynn appear to be using the B7 Geminis sparingly. today 37160 (Bruce's favourite - Yes ! Bruce actually has a favourite Gemini) was kept on local work with Andy James texting to say it worked Hunstanton schools contract 6 and then worked 40s from about 16.15. Meanwhile 37158 was on Y6 and worked all day meaning it ends up at Lowestoft, one of the longest turns at approximately 465 miles. 37159 was more predictably on K17.

20103/4/7 now seem to be the only B10Ms which work X1 turns with any consistency and this may end once the remaining two B7 Geminis turn up at Lowestoft. Today 103 was K4, 104 was K2 and 107 came into Lynn tonight on L12. B9 37567 on K1 was changed at Lowestoft for 37565. 37575 is due to visit Full Circle for panel repairs when availability permits.

Probably the most remarkable working today was 37569 working K15, a normally solid Lynn B9 turn. Strangely K16 which finishes at Lowestoft was given 37576, so may be an oversight on the rostering was the cause. The last time a Lowestoft B9 did K15 was on August 8th (563) and before that on April 27th (564) , the first day of the current diagrams.


Wednesday 7th October 2009 ~ More Warranty Work

Volvo engineers are doing minor jobs on some Geminis this week. 37570 was attended to yesterday and tomorrow 37572 is due to be seen. This minor work has been pending for sometime, but it is only now that sufficient vehicles have become available to allow it to be carried out. 37569 returned to X1 service today on L11, but 37566 had a problem with its door buzzer first thing and after some delay, K4 departed with 20106. This passed Bruce 23 late and the congestion at Eye saw it return via the bypass. 37566 later resumed the duty. Upon completion of repairs, 37570 replaced 37572 on K14 at 15.00.
K4 and K5 seem to be the worst affected by the roadworks each morning, today 37576 was 20 late returning on K5. The driver of Y6 08.48 Wisbech to Peterborough with 37579 was perhaps aware of impending delays and departed 2 minutes early, very rare for a service which is usually a few minutes late. Timekeeping was erratic today. 37572 on K14 12.15 King's Lynn to Peterborough was 22 late returning. There appear to have been some vehicle changes at Lowestoft today. K17 with B7 37158 was swapped for something else - possibly 37565 which was not seen today - K19 began with 37578 but came back with 37567. 567 itself had gone over on K1 and 37158 returned with this.
Non standard vehicles seen today were 34108 on K16, 20103 back on L12 and 20104 on L10. Almost all Geminis are now carrying new hoardings for either Kenco Coffee or Salt levels in food (a Government sponsored campaign) on the drop down side or the movie Saw VI on the passenger side.


Tuesday 6th October 2009 ~ School Outings

37579 and 37578 rest in Vancouver Avenue on Sunday night. 579 sports the new Kenco advert, the removed poster for 'Dorian Gray' can be seen partly obscuring its replacement ! Photo courtesy of Peter Barclay
After several weeks where the King's Lynn school bus stud have remained steadfastly restricted to their Hunstanton trips, today provided some relief. The bus scheduled to work L12 07.45 from Lowestoft failed (20103 or 37569 I suspect), so 20118 was turned out from Lynn to run to Peterborough and back. Meanwhile Lowestoft found a substitute and this ran empty to Lynn to then take up L12 at 14.02 to Lowestoft. Tonight big bus 34108 was on L12 and this had been seen early on by Michael B on the 09.08 Norwich to Lowestoft X2. Michael says " The 09.38 X2 from Norwich was cancelled and I then saw 34113 in Bracondale running empty with NIS on the front". It is possible, but I would think very unlikely, that 34113 went through to Lynn to work L12, but surely 34108 has to be a more likely candidate. Now I'm guessing that the incoming driver on L12 into Lynn then works K14 to Peterborough an hour later or something similar, because today K14 failed to run on the western section - 37565 started out on the turn this morning. Once again thanks to Bruce for a commendable X1 vigil today whilst I was indisposed.

20121 has been let loose on the Hunny schools work again and this meant 20106 was available when 37576 became ill with a fuel issue at lunchtime. 106 worked forward on K17 13.45 Lynn - Peterborough (10.25 ex Lowestoft) and was reported by Judith who said " I keep seeing 106 today, I'm sure it was at Castle Rising on schools this morning and now it's at Wisbech on the X1 ! What's going on ?". 576 retired to join 37570 in the garage. 37160 should have been about to cover, but Andy says this was on service 42 to Fairstead which now warrants a decker for much of the day now that 'First' have followed the Norfolk Green road on fare promotions. 37158/9 were in X1 use on K3 and K5 today and Profile 20353 has left King's Lynn.

Back at the eastern end and Michael B saw the elusive 37569 this afternoon, it was working the 15.05 Lowestoft - Norwich X2. Yarmouth produced 20107 for the high mileage Y6 turn today and Rob Brooks says "On the 'Beast' on the 18.18 from Wisbech to Peterborough. Her gearbox is a bit dodgy - makes an annoying squeal like someone trying to sit on a pig". On arrival back at Lynn 107 retired to the centre of the bus station which was ominous, but a few minutes later she was off again Lowestoft bound. 20104 was on K2 today meaning it will finish at Lowestoft. Gemini 37572 has at last got an advert affixed to the driver's side following the fitting of the necessary stud. It informs us that Kenco coffee refills have 97% less packaging ! I think we are supposed to be impressed.

Monday 5th October 2009 ~ Bruce on the Loose

I had one of my occasional trips to the BBC today, so Bruce kindly agreed to be chief scout :
The Blog-Meister has absented himself from our bus route yet again So here I go filling in again:-

K1 The BEAST spot on time at 08.01
K2 37568
K3 37578
K4 37566 22 late at 09.56
K5 37159 10 late at 10.14 but who is counting?
Y6 37572
Y7 37573
L8 37574
Y9 37570
L10 20104 on time at 10.34 and 12.34
L11 37563
L12 37160 early into Wisbech Bus station and waiting time before heading off to Peterborough
Y13 37565 sounding like a tractor while stood in Bus Station
K14 37564
K15 37158 10 late but still who is counting?
K16 20103 1 early and nearly missed it at 13.03
K17 37575
K18 37567
K19 37579

Missing are 37569/76/77 yet again.

Highlight (for me) was the Beast on K1 passing 20103 on K16 outside my place as they should - spot on time at 15.34 - nuff said!



Sunday 4th October 2009 ~ Goodbye Profiles

A last look at B7 Profile 20353 today surrounded by its older B10M cousins.
The advert guys have been on the prowl this weekend blanketing the B9s with an array of new adverts. Here 37577 has at last lost its Harry Potter ad and bears one for Eco friendly Kenco coffee. It was working the 16.35 out of King's Lynn to Lowestoft this afternoon.

20353, the last remaining B7 Profile at King's Lynn which has spent the weekend at Rowan Road compound is due to leave tomorrow. 37160, one of the Profiles replacements which last night took K2 to Lowestoft - a turn which is supposed to return to Lynn on Saturday evenings - came off at Yarmouth and was replaced by 37575 off K18. The reason for this is uncertain, but a clue might be that 37160 which worked today was turned in to Vancouver Avenue on the 21.35 Lynn to Lowestoft to fill up with fuel. It is believed that the fuel capacity of these B7s is slightly less than the B9s.
Only other exception to B9 Gemini rule today was 20103 on the last Yarmouth throw out turn. It ended up at Lynn tonight as booked.
37574's long spell of duty finally came to an end today with 37567 coming out of Lowestoft instead, so the B9 record stands at 68 days continuous service.


Saturday October 3rd 2009 ~ Rest Day

20103 on the Saturday easy turn (L12) passing Walpole Highway just after 11.30 today
37574 heads for Lowestoft this morning on L8, but will it be out tomorrow ?
Had a bit of a rest from the X1 today and didn't hear anything from Bruce either ! Despite this valuable contacts provided the info and there was a chance to travel on the 50mph restricted B7s with 37159 on K3 and it looks like 37160 had an evening trip to Lowestoft and back on K2 after 37579 was removed.
B10M action was confined to 20103 on the out and back L12 and 20107 on L11. 107 came into Lynn on L11 last night too, but was immediately returned to Lowestoft on Y6 replacing 37567. The 'Big Bus' 34108 was out today again on K14 getting it safely back to Lowestoft.

B7 Gemini 37158 may be on MOT prep as it has had its wheels repainted. Record breaking B9 37574 did L8 today giving it one chance to work tomorrow off Lowestoft.

Friday October 2nd 2009 ~ One left

20353 is the only B7 Profile remaining at King's Lynn, but it did not work again today and remained at Rowan Road. Of the replacements, 37158 was K17 and 37159 K3, both of which were regular Profile turns. Tonight though all three, 37158/9/60 were present at Vancouver Avenue, 37160 with a problem with its lights and 37158 removed from K17 and replaced by 37577.
The difference in mileages for the B9s is quite interesting. 37573 has done 90k but 37564 has now accumulated 113k. Never mind that says Bruce, what about the true kings of mileage, the B10Ms ? Well I will look into this and see how the most common three, 20103/4/7 have fared recently.
34108 came out of Lowestoft on L10 today and there was no sign of 37569 which was thought to have worked yesterday. Another theory on 569 is that it could be on MOT. B10Ms out today were 20103 on K2, 20104 which did the first part of Y7 before being replaced by 37564 and 20107 on L11.


Thursday 1st October 2009 ~ When the cat's away.......

I thought things would run quite smoothly today and spent the day visiting relatives in Warwickshire. Wrong ! King's Lynn decided a new month would be an ideal time for the new B7 Geminis to make their X1 debut. Tachographs have been fitted to 37159/160 and these worked Lynn internal car lines K17 and K15 respectively. 37158 also got in on the act and when the B9 on K19 11.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough (believed to have been 37569) was deemed unfit to proceed beyond Lynn, 37158 stepped in and did the trip to Peterborough and back. It was replaced for the 17.32 to Lowestoft by newly MOTd 37579.
There were lots of swaps today - Royale 34108 came out of Yarmouth as expected today and worked Y7 this morning, however, it was removed at Lowestoft and the 14.55 to Lynn had 37563 instead. Y13 should have been 37564, but this evening it came in with 37577 (off the first part of K19). There was another swap too with 37566 on K2 taken off at Lynn and replaced by the vehicle off K19 11.25 ex Lowestoft (37569?) for the 18.35 to Lowestoft .
20352 was not seen today and 20353 remained at Rowan Road compound. 20103 worked L11, 20104 K4 and beast 107 did Y6.
37566 has lost its advert for 'Fame' - it was the only B9 to carry it - and now has a T Mobile free texts ad in its place.
Many thanks to Bruce, Sam, Jamie V and Andrew for the regular updates today in my absence.

Wednesday 30th September 2009 ~ Unwanted Premieres

34108 heads through the gloom for Peterborough this evening, it was late but comfortable !
So our friend in Glasgow - see yesterday's comment - is offering us our B10Ms back if he can have 20500/1 in exchange !! I think most folks down here would be happy with a coach of any description. Personally I loved the B12 Paragons, just as long as the air con was working and the dear old B10Ms simply have character, not bad for a product of the 1990s. As I have said before, the B9 Geminis are functional, they are good workhorses for short distance routes, but look at comparable routes to the X1 such as Oxford - Cambridge, or a more profitable one such as Oxford to London ? Far better accommodation and eminently more suitable vehicles are in use. One could I suppose, equally point to Stagecoach's X4 from Peterborough to MK which is DD worked, but again this is hardly an 'express' service. Disregarding the Toftwood fiasco, the X1 has the potential to be a fast service which would undoubtedly make it a more attractive proposition to car users. Anyway, I digress, our B10Ms which went up to Glasgow were in many cases never used by 'First' again. In a direct reversal of recent 'First' policy, 20114/119/120/141 have all been sold to private operators for further use. What became of 20117/142 is unknown. May be CJ can tell us.

Today our own express service had 20103 on K2, 20104 on Y9 and 20107 working K1. In addition, the big bus, 34108 was in charge of K4. Tonight it was running 22 late going westbound, possibly caused partly by a greyhound on the loose in the Swaffham area which local radio reported as disrupting the A47.

Gemini availablity was still down to 13 today. 37568 was viewed at Lowestoft receiving attention from fitters including a representative from Volvo by Terence and 37569 was also absent from the X1 again. 37579 should be back on the road come Friday after its MOT. All three B7 Geminis were at Lynn today. B7 Profile 20353 returned from Yarmouth on Y7.