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Thursday December 31st 2009 ~ Hogmanay Blog

It was still quite dark at 08.50 this morning when I photographed 'The Beast' 20107 leaving Wisbech westbound. Can someone suggest it is nominated for a CBE or similar if it survives until 31/12/10 ? (CBE = Coach of the British Empire).
37157, one of Lowestoft's recent acquisitions, had two consecutive trips to Peterborough today. Here it is running 5 minutes late on the 13.05 from Peterborough (Y13).
New Year's Eve and time for reflecting on what a year it has been, or not as the case may be. Traffic was quite light today and this even led to some untypical early running. Examples included 37567, 3 early into Wisbech on the 08.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft (K4) and this evening 'The Beast' 3 early at Walpole on Y6 19.05 Peterborough - King's Lynn. This service and L8 terminate at Lynn in tonight's early close while K17 and K19 both end at Lowestoft.
Not surprisingly then, punctuality was possibly the best of the whole of 2009 ! No services (and all turns were seen) ran any more than 5 minutes late. It all went like clockwork and with only one unexpected change. Y13 with 37157 was changed at Lynn at 14.30 with 37157 making a second trip to Peterborough on K19 instead. This is thought to have been a positioning move to get the B7 to finish at Lowestoft and 37575 (or possibly 37579) the other vehicle involved to finish at Lynn. 37568 had the day off at Lowestoft, but all other B9s were seen through Wisbech except 37571/5/9. Speaking of 37571, I will try and ascertain how progress is going with this one.

Time now then to do my acknowledgements for the year. As regular blog readers will be aware, this blog would not be possible without the valued aid of one Bruce Billingham. X1 diversions have meant that on many occasions I have not seen a single service and Bruce has diligently monitored proceedings, probably with Tina, Louise and Claire all thinking he has gone totally mad. Many's the time he has forgotten to have breakfast because he has been involved with witnessing an X1 farce. This week incidentally, he has had a well earned break from observations to regain his sanity and families respect.
Many others - literally too numerous to mention - have made the blog what it is. Special mention should be made of a dozen or so 'First' employees who enjoy contributing to and reading my ramblings, then there are our friends in the Far East, the two Michaels, Sam and Grahame, as well as at this end the loyal band, namely John W, Andy, Peter, Angela, Doreen, Derek, Cheryl, Ian, Judith, Suzanne, Pat, Mark, Neil and Ros. Then not forgetting further west Rob Brooks and the two Jamies. Numerous others get involved and thanks also to those of you including our friend Jim Long who provide photographs to make the whole thing more interesting. Not forgetting - well those I've forgotten ! Remind me and I will give you a mention. Always a dangerous thing, making lists. Have a very happy 2010 you all and don't forget that the one you see is probably the one that the rest of us have missed !


Wednesday 30th December 2009 ~ Swap Shop

Yes numerous changes today to allow for safety services and maintenance. One turn which was unaffected though was K1 which had today's sole B10M (20107 of course) all day. To compensate for Lynn servicing 37568 yesterday, today 37562 was dealt with at Lowestoft. 37563 reappeared today after its adblu problems and did L8 which was on time this morning but unusually 12 late this evening on the 20.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft.
Almost every turn seemed to change vehicles at King's Lynn this morning, so here is a summary of what seems to have happened :

Y9 in with 37575, taken off for servicing, 37570 forward to Peterborough at 09.45
L10 in with 37579, taken out of traffic, 37578 off a safety service forward to P'bo at 10.15
L11 unknown vehicle in, 37160 forward to Peterborough at 10.45
That wasn't all though as 37570 suffered a broken window en route so at 12.32 it was replaced by a serviced 37575 !
Later in the day 37565 had an air problem at Norwich while working Y6, so 37570 with new window went to take over the turn. 37565 was brought back to King's Lynn for attention.
Timekeeping was fair today and only K18 with 37156 bucked this trend being 16 late on the 14.48 Wisbech - Peterborough and considerably more than that on its return.

An unexpected turn of events which will delight some took place today. B10M 20123 was moved from Rowan Road compound where it has been resident since August 19th, to Vancouver Avenue for inspection to see whether it can be returned to traffic. It is likely that an engine transplant will be required if this is to come to fruition. King's Lynn were today using coaches 20105 and 20106 on the fast service X40 to Hunstanton and with 20105 due to be withdrawn next month plus the schools requirement resuming shortly, vehicle shortages would seem likely. It is interesting that 20123 has been prioritised ahead of Castle Rising fire victim 30902.

Tuesday December 29th 2009 ~ Bingo Bus

Back to a full X1 timetable today, but because of maintenance schedules some strange goings on. Timekeeping was quite good, exceptions were 37573 on L10 which was 10 late leaving Wisbech on the 10.48 to Peterborough, 17 late returning, but on time this evening and misfortune befell K16 with 37157 which Jamie Robinson says was in Queensgate exactly 30 late 'not in service'. He left on 37574 on K17 and 37157 went empty to King's Lynn.
37568 was given a safety service at King's Lynn today, despite it being a Lowestoft vehicle and due to the displacement caused by the holidays. K2 had an interesting day, 20126 began the turn with the 06.10 Lynn - Peterborough but was later changed at the coast for 37572, this in turn came off at Lynn for the aforementioned 37568 to go forward. 568 was back later though doing the final part of 37579s turn on K19.
37570 on L8 came into Lynn at 18.43 but it looks like 37158 took over. B7 37160 was outside Vancouver Avenue this evening with 'Regent Bingo' on the blinds display while 37156 was sidelined with an air leak at King's Lynn today. Old stager 20107 was still on the road and worked Y13, this turn starts at Yarmouth at 07.30 and finishes at King's Lynn at 00.28 !

Monday 28th December 2009 ~ Bargains for Some, Delays for Others !

37575 heads west on the 09.48 from Lowestoft at Walpole Highway with a healthy load today.
37579 - pardon the pun - eclipsed everything else in terms of lateness today, here it is seen 30 late at Tilney All Saints having left King's Lynn at around 14.20 (due 13.50).

What used to be called the 'January Sales', but which now seem to commence at one minute past midnight on Boxing Day, had a disastrous effect on X1 schedules today. I am assuming here that the delays were caused by queueing traffic in Norwich and other locations, with shoppers eager to spend their vouchers etc.
All turns were seen at some point and I can report the following, lateness when viewed around Wisbech in brackets :
37574 (-12) on 11.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough
37572 (-1) on 11.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft
37575 (-16) on 12.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough
37566 (-23) on 12.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft
37579 (-30) on 13.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough
37562 (-14) on 16.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough
37577 (-5) on 16.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft
37565 (-20) on 17.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft
37578 (-12) on 17.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough

Sunday 27th December 2009 ~ Cold Turkey

Very little to report - things seem to have operated quite smoothly in the milder temperatures experienced today. Bruce reported 37158 on the 08.30 from Yarmouth and this completed the diagram ending up at King's Lynn just before 22.30 this evening where it was able to join all the other B7s, 37156/7/9/60 which had congregated there over Christmas. The current mileages according to the hub meters on the B7s are :
37156 135,900
37157 131,400
37158 144,900
37159 130,600
37160 144,400

37567 on the 21.27 arrival at Lynn from Peterborough is believed to have been swapped for 37573 which had come in on the terminating 20.44 arrival from Lowestoft. Other services had 37566/8, 37572/4/6/7/8.


Friday December 25th ~ Happy Christmas !!

Well well well ! Look what's just arrived -nobody more amazed than me I can tell you. Thanks to all the good people at 'First' who help us enthusiasts and passengers throughout the year. Now, I'm off for the Christmas dinner !!


Thursday 24th December 2009 ~ Christmas Eve Coaches

Christmas will be far from happy for poor old 20109 shown here, a blown engine means it is unlikely to return to traffic. Thanks to Jamie V for the seasonal adjustments !

Probably the last Christmas Eve where coach travel will be possible on the X1. Today 20126 continued to deputise on Y7 and it's been mentioned before I'm sure, but it is interesting how this coach has always been unique in some way. When it was repainted a couple of years back, the Barbie pink gave way to the normal Excel livery, but in this case the white area at the front was much larger than on the other B10Ms treated, thus making it easily identifiable from a distance. 20126 is spending Christmas at King's Lynn following its arrival tonight.

37563 deigned to put in an appearance last night when it worked the last part of K17. This morning it was despatched from Lynn on K18, but adblu problems saw it replaced at Lowestoft by our old friend 20107. This did the afternoon trip to Peterborough and should end up at Yarmouth tonight. No signs of 20102 or 20500/1 at Lynn yet, although they are supposed to be allocated here. X1 work seems unlikely to feature in their future though as rumours are that they will be strictly kept for rail replacement work. What a waste !!

Sam and Michael have been keeping an eye on the X2 as usual and report 37569 doing the 12.08 ex Lowestoft on Tuesday. It has not been seen subsequently on either X1 or X2s. Yesterday there was a debut for a B7 when 37157 was reported by Sam in the afternoon.

With all five B7s now on the road (37156 made its debut in last Friday's snow) they are now a regular sight on the X1. Minus points though are there smaller fuel tanks and apparently poor heating which has resulted in passenger complaints. Today 37156 was Y13, 37157 was L11, 37158 didn't appear but was last seen at Lowestoft, 37159 was L8 and 37160 was at King's Lynn.

It is interesting that 20107 was used on K18 this afternoon when in theory, 34108, 37158 and 37569 should all have been candidates.

To balance an early shutdown this evening, K17 and K19 terminated at Lowestoft and Y6 and L8 at King's Lynn. Thick fog around Wisbech was an added hazard this evening and 37568 on L10 was 8 late, a slight improvement on its 15 late at lunchtime. Otherwise timekeeping today seemed very good.

Chance now to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and thanks for your continued support. Gerard

Wednesday 23rd December 2009 ~ Slipping and Sliding

The icy conditions worsened this evening, when despite temperatures actually touching a balmy 2'c, heavy rain landing on untreated roads made for some hair raising moments for unsuspecting motorists. It is a tribute to the 'First' drivers that there haven't been more incidents like the one this evening where 37572 slid whilst calling at Thorney and damaged the offside rear bodywork. Damage was slight, but the bus was taken out of traffic for examination.
37567 was once again despatched on K4, but for the second day running ended up back at Lynn, so it must have been replaced at some point. Another strange swap befell 37576 which started the day as K17, but finished on Y13. 34108 is believed to have replaced it on K17. 20126 was sent back east on K2.
Evening services were delayed again and 37564 on 20.50 Lynn - Peterborough was 18 late and 37576 on the 21.50 (Y13) 10 late. 37566 was quite oddly used on K3 which is normally reserved for a Lynn vehicle as it returns there in the evening.

Tuesday 22nd December 2009 ~ Freezing Minus Seven

Today was an incredibly cold day after further overnight snowfall. Even by 09.30, the temperature was still -5'c. Credit to 'First' then for giving a service under what must be trying circumstances.
There were clearly a few swaps at Lowestoft yesterday as this morning King's Lynn produced 'The Beast' that is 20107 for K1 and Royale 34108 on K16. Most B9's are thought to have worked today, but not completing full turns.
20107 itself was changed at Lowestoft for 37574 for example. K2 with 37575 was only 2 late this morning, but this afternoon arrived at Wisbech 42 late at 16.55. K4 started with 37567, but as this was at Vancouver Avenue this evening, clearly didn't complete the job. There is also some confusion re K5. It began with 37570 and is believed to have come back west with 37567 off K4. From observations, it seems that this came off at Lynn and 37565 then worked to Peterborough and back. 37565 had done K18 but was 60 late arriving in King's Lynn and a replacement had worked forward as the 17.02 to Lowestoft.
Morning services from the coast produced as follows : Y6 37159 13 late returning from Peterborough, Y7 37 156 16 late returning, L8 37576, Y9 37566 just 4 late going west, but 25 late coming back, L10 20126 !! 13 late, L11 37564 11 late to Peterborough, 25 late going back, L12 37572 already 13 late going to Peterborough and Y13 37577 which was 19 late passing Walpole for Peterborough, but made up a little time to be 16 late to Lowestoft. Other sightings were 34108 departing King's Lynn empty eastbound at 17.40 (K16 which it should have been is due to depart at 16.02. 20126 was still on L10 tonight but was on time, 37159 had graduated from Y6 to L8 and was only about 5 late.
Evening services have generally been poor punctuality wise this week due to the combination of delays earlier in the day and the freezing temperatures.


Monday 21st December 2009 ~ Fragments

Today's report has been collated from various sightings sent in. I had my staff party this afternoon and at least it was overlooking the route from a distance. We had a pop quiz and somebody (not me) had the bright idea that teams should be awarded bonus points if they were the first to spot an X1 !! Now admittedly I had imbibed a little, but there did seem to be some very long periods without any being seen at all.
Coming into Wisbech at lunchtime, it soon became apparent that all was not well. At 13.08 37568 was leaving Wisbech Horsefair for Peterborough, while another service following was visible approaching on Lynn Road. Viewed from the pub about 10 minutes later, 37159 was seen also Peterborough bound and I foolishly assumed this was the bus I'd seen in the distance on Lynn Road. Rob Brooks says "Here are my early afternoon sightings from Wisbech bus station :
37562 parked up at Horsefair 1200, but gone by 1250
37573 1226 Wisbech - Lowestoft d1249
37568 1248 Wisbech - Peterborough a1303 d1307
37569 1318 Wisbech - Peterborough a1314

So it would seem that 37568, 37569 and 37159 all headed for Peterborough within 10 minutes of each other !! These are therefore believed to have been on Y13, K14 and K15. If so Y13 was running 49 late. Rob's sighting of 37562 would seem to point to it having done the 12.26 to Lowestoft, but this doesn't tie in with 37573.

Other pub sightings were 37570 on L11 12.56 Wisbech - Lowestoft running 28 late and later at 15.23, 37569 heading for Lowestoft having overtaken 37568 which was now a minute behind it. These services were now a staggering 89 and 59 late, so had obviously become embroiled in more congestion while en route to and from Peterborough. Although I could not make positive identifications the following were then seen :
16.09 B9 to Peterborough (possibly K1 19 late)
16.17 B9 to Lowestoft (possibly K17 27 late)
16.33 B9 to Peterborough (possibly K2 13 late)
16.41 B9 to Lowestoft (believed to be K18 21 late)
17.36 B7 to Peterborough (K4 ? 16 late)
18.19 B9 to Lowestoft (K2 returning ? 20 late)

Bruce adds, "I saw the 37569 and 37568 double act on my way into Wisbech at 15.34. On arrival at the bus station 37579 was lurking 'out of service' on the X1 stand with the driver cocooned in his bus on the phone with all the lights on. Half hour later it had moved over to the far side with all of the lights out. 37565 was seen heading to Peterborough just before 17.00 and at 17.24 37567 was passing over the level crossing on the Wisbech bypass, heading for Peterborough but again Sorry Not in Service ! L10 passed the house tonight a good 30 mins late if not more".

If 37567 used the A47 Wisbech bypass, it might explain the big gap in services I noted between 16.41 and 17.36. Bruce adds that of morning services seen, most were about 15 late.

Sunday December 20th 2009 ~ Frozen Times

After last night's debacle, it was really a wonder that any buses ran at all today, but run they did - or at least some of them. Observations are not comprehensive enough to confirm a complete service, but here is what I saw.
37569 was the 11.50 from King's Lynn to Peterborough, noted at Walpole at 12.38 exactly 30 late. The corresponding eastbound service wasn't seen so was either cancelled or ran over 30 late also. 37579 was seen near Walton Highway heading for Lowestoft at 13.38, again exactly 30 late. At Lowestoft it was replaced by B7 37156 which was only 9 late at Tilney on the 19.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough. Back at Walpole Highway, the 16.08 to Peterborough and 16.10 to Lowestoft were both Geminis 22 and 21 late respectively.
An evening trip to King's Lynn saw 37156 noted above. The 19.10 from Peterborough was seen at Eau Brink tottering along to Lynn with 37568 'not in service' 58 late. The following 20.10 from Peterborough was a mere 8 minutes late with 37562.
Spare vehicles noted at King's Lynn Vancouver Avenue were 37564, 37565, 37572, 37157/8/9, with 20105/6/18/21 at Rowan Road. 20127 was also in the garage.


Saturday December 19th 2009 ~ Service Suspended

Less than four minutes behind a preceding Lowestoft bound X1, 37572 negotiates the ice past Wisbech town bridge at just after 13.30 this afternoon.
It's Gemini city ! I was within a whisker of photographing four B9s in Wisbech bus station simultaneously this afternoon. 37575 was 'out of service' but later resumed K15. To the right of it is 37568 on K17 14.18 to Peterborough, whilst departing is 37570 on Y13 running 30 minutes late.

A revived 37575 kicks up the snow as it approaches Terrington St. John this afternoon on K15. By this time the temperature had plunged to -5'c.

37577 was one of the better behaved B9s today, it is seen nearing Walpole Highway in this afternoon's sub zero temperatures while working K19.
The day started with an attempt to run a full service as booked, but plummeting afternoon temperatures resulted in diesel pipes freezing up and a number of failures were recorded. At King's Lynn five breakdowns were reported by 18.30, chiefly to local services and these included 30902 which caught fire at Castle Rising - first reports unconfirmed indicate a possible brake fault - and suffered external and internal damage as a result.
X1 wise, operations were hampered by minimal gritting to roads in the King's Lynn area. Bruce was out early as his wife was off to London by Harrods coach and viewed 37573 passing at 07.08 on K2 (due past at 06.34) running 34 late. This was followed by 37158 at 07.11 on K3 just 7 late. Two minutes later 37577 was seen on the bypass heading for Wisbech on K19, it is due off at 07.30 so was on time. Finally in this session Bruce saw 37566 - whereas all the other B9s he'd seen were proceeding very cautiously, this descended from the A47 flyover at normal speed on K18 and passed at 07.20, about 11 late.
Progress by 37573 & 37158 came in a text from Peter who says "At 08.35, 37573 and 37158 were followed by me in convoy approaching Thorney, 573 took the bypass and 158 went via the village". This would mean K2 with 573 was now 47 late and 158 17 late.

I didn't venture out until lunchtime. In Wisbech there was a gap in the service before 37576 was seen arriving at 13.28, followed by 37572 at 13.32, both heading for Lowestoft and assumed to be L11 and L12 running 38 and 12 late respectively. A spell at Wisbech bus station from 14.10 to 14.30 meant I saw more X1s than I bargained for. Present throughout this spell was 37575 which had terminated here on K15, reasons unknown. Services seen arriving were Y13 at 14.21 (due 13,51) so exactly 30 late heading for Lowestoft with 37570 and arriving just 6 minutes later at 14.27 was 37563 on K14, this one was only 6 late arriving and a smart turn round meant it was almost on time departing with a keen driver. Rob H reports 563 on the heels of 570 at Walpole. Going west was 37568 arriving at 14.27 on K17, only 14 late.
37566 reported earlier had been seen still on K18 arriving at Lynn by Bruce, but never passed through Walpole and the next services seen here were revived 37575 on K15 passing K19 with 37577, 4 and 8 late respectively.

So far so good then, but few could have predicted what was to unfold. Firstly mention should be made of two unusual arrivals at King's Lynn on Friday evening, the final B7 to arrive 37156 came in, as did old hand coach 20127. The latter was used on K4 but unfortunately was in trouble at Hockering mid afternoon with the oil pressure light glowing. It made it to Lynn but was taken out of service here. With the freeze intensifying, 37156 was seen passing Hardwick at 16.48 'not in service' heading east - it should have been K16 and if so was 40 late. 37573 which we have mentioned as being K2 was seen yet again, by me this time at Tilney Shoreboat at 16.21, so now 26 late and it was seen for a final time at Nar Ouse Way at 18.48 about 24 late heading for Lowestoft.
I did a mega supermarket shop and before going home paid a visit to King's Lynn bus station where 37569 was seen departing on K1 18.35 to Lowestoft, just 4 late. In the parking area in the centre were 37157 which had just arrived ten late on Y7 (terminates at 18.07), 37159 and 37567. We know that K2 departed at around 16.00 to Peterborough, but it is not known how many - if any - services ran beyond Lynn after this. Bruce didn't see any and Rob Brooks had the misfortune to be one of around 25 people who turned up for the 19.10 at Peterborough Queensgate. This didn't appear and neither did the 20.10, so Rob understandably disgruntled hired a taxi to get himself to Wisbech setting him back £30. "We didn't pass the vehicle incoming for the 21.10 either" says Rob. Bruce says " The service appears to have been suspended and the only bus seen in the evening was an unidentified white elephant which went west through Walpole Highway at 22.20 and returned an hour later, obviously having terminated at Wisbech. I hope to have more details on this situation in due course, but if the service was suspended then it reflects very poorly on 'First' that the situation was not relayed to passengers waiting at Peterborough.


Friday 18th December 2009 ~ Battling Against The Elements

Jim Long kindly sent this picture of former X1 stalwart 20122 at Ipswich today. It is now a driver trainer, but has clearly suffered from the overnight snow. That most reliable of B9s, 37564 is seen at Wisbech today on Y13 - a mere 40 late. Thanks to Rob Brooks for the photo.

Seen in a snow shower, 37158 was captured at Wisbech on the late running K14. Photo : Rob Brooks

Today's star performer, the shortly to be withdrawn N605APU (20105) photographed at Wisbech by Rob B prior to its departure at 12.36 to Lowestoft.

As expected, here in the west at least, the X1 was affected by the snow and frost overnight. Compared to earlier this year however, a sterling effort was made to ensure that a reasonable service was provided despite the conditions. My first experience of the route came as usual at 08.30 this morning and the C classified section from Tilney to Walton Highway was pretty bad, but passable with care. I stopped off for a chat with Bruce who said that things were improving and that I'd just missed 37578 heading for Peterborough. This was in the times of Y6 but was in fact K5, about 30 minutes late. I headed towards Wisbech and passed 37567 at 08.43 in Walton Highway, this was Lowestoft bound and was running 8 late if K2 and 38 late if K1 !
The easiest way to report on the rest of the day is to record events in chronological order and here is what was seen (casual rather than continuous observations) up to 11.00

09.20 B9 arriving at Wisbech for Lowestoft, believed to be K3 running 30 late
09.45 37562 arriving at Wisbech for Lowestoft, thought to be K4 25 late
10.28 37563 departing Wisbech for Peterborough, this is believed to have been Y9 running a mere 8 late

Jamie R was at Peterborough rail station at 11.15 awaiting an eastbound X1 and the first service to arrive was (quite notably) 20105 in the path of L10. The driver had a chat with Jamie and told him that he was then going to pick up at Queensgate and suggested that he wait for the service a few minutes behind which was running direct to Wisbech. 37563 then arrived and boarded by Jamie did indeed run through without visiting the bus station and with very few passengers as a consequence. Rob Brooks was at Wisbech and says 'Here is my report from Wisbech Horsefair :
20105 L10 1226 Wisbech - Lowestoft a1232 d1234
37158 K14 1248 Wisbech - Peterborough a1315 d1318
37576 K16 1435 Peterborough - Lowestoft about 5ish late.
My next sighting was L12 which had 37566 and departed Wisbech at midday (12 late) and was seen passing Walpole on the return at 13.53, 19 late.
I too saw 37158 heading west at Walsoken and this one lost time badly and was 62 late coming back. Y13 had 37564 and was 40 late into Wisbech for the 13.56 to Lowestoft.
Other afternoon services viewed at Wisbech were as follows :

37573 K18 14.48 Wisbech - Peterborough : 4 late

37576 (as seen by Rob) K16 15.26 to Lowestoft : 7 late

37575 K19 15.18 Wisbech - Peterborough : 12 late

In addition, K1 was only 2 late with an unidentified B9.
Bruce had a busy day but can add 37572 on L8 at 12.16 through Walpole, meaning it was 41 late.

Tonight road conditions took a drastic turn for the worse around Wisbech with (disgracefully) no gritting having been done by Cambs CC. K4 was 47 late departing for Lowestoft with 37565 and this was followed shortly after by K5 with 37579 (this had gone 'out of service' to Peterborough earlier) and this was 35 late. Both buses were reduced to a 15 mph crawl on the old road because of the severe ice which had formed.


Thursday 17th December ~ An Icy Blast

With bad weather forecast, today's X1 experienced the calm before the storm. Nothing in excess of 10 minutes late was recorded until this evening and once again a 100% low floor day seems to have been the order.
K5 was not noted today, but B7s out were 37157 on L10, 37160 on Y13 and 37158 on K18.
Snow fell in Norfolk this evening and en route back from a Christmas party, I saw Y13 21.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough running 25 late near Bruce's flyover, now with 37567 and with 'Wisbech X1' on the front. This presumably meant it was to terminate there. It stopped near here for the driver to converse with his counterpart on L10 21.05 from Peterborough which departed Wisbech 28 late with 37157 as booked. Snow had settled on the route at Walpole Highway. Tomorrow morning could be interesting.......

Wednesday 16th December 2009 ~ Rudimentary

Straight forward sort of day today with pretty good timekeeping. Bruce reports that both K16 with 37157 and K18 with 37160 avoided the villages this afternoon while heading west. 37157 was 6 late returning. Worst performer for punctuality was K14 with 37566 which was 15 late in both directions. 37564 was seen by Bruce departing Wisbech via the A1101 on the 18.22 to Peterborough (L8) due to an accident on Cromwell Road.
Jamie R has had a rant about the 'total lack of heating on the elephants'. He adds 'I wouldn't recommend anyone to travel on the X1 in cold weather and older folks might get hypothermia, it is shocking'. Any comments from those who know about this sort of thing would be welcome.


Tuesday December 15th 2009 ~ The Revenge of The Beast

"So much for the complete low floor service" says Sam in a text this morning, "20107 just seen departing Norwich for Peterborough at 10.25". Bruce adds "Let it be noted she was 7 late going to Peterborough, but just 2 late returning !"
I was at Long Sutton today so missed the action, but tonight the traffic lights at the B198 junction at Walton Highway had finally gone and the new roundabout was in use, so this should mean a period of stability to the timetable at last.
To enlarge on the appearance of 107, K14 had started out with 37565 but this was due a maintenance check so 107 filled the breach. 37570 was in trouble at Lynn again this afternoon and it came off K17 to be replaced by 37160 on the 13.45 to Peterborough. 37157 was Y9 and 37158 (with new front fleet number) Y7 leaving 37159 being used on Hunstanton services. Many thanks to Bruce for providing a full report on today's proceedings.


Monday 14th December 2009 ~ Low Floor Bore

"It's going to be boring" , says Bruce "If it's going to be an all low floor service henceforth". Well today certainly was, so time to have a closer look at today's timekeeping and vehicles.

K1 37573 Noted departing Wisbech 8 late on the 15.48 to Peterborough

K2 37572 Right time AM, 17 late from Wisbech on 16.18 to Peterborough

K3 37562 18 late on 16.48 Wisbech to Peterborough

K4 began with 37568 but this was swapped at Lynn at 10.02 for 37158 which as you may have seen from Steve was 45 late at Norwich and went directly to Lowestoft via Beccles. It was 17 late at Walton Highway at 17.22 heading to Peterborough.

K5 37160

Y6 37577 arrived Peterborough at 09.50, 24 late. On time this evening.

Y7 37570 2 late on 09.18 Wisbech - Peterborough

L8 37157 5 late into Wisbech for 11.26 to Lowestoft

Y9 37563 4 late from Wisbech on 10.18 to Peterborough

L10 37564 on time on 10.48 Wisbech - Peterborough, 13 late arriving for 20.22 W-P

L11 37567 5 late on 11.18 Wisbech - Peterborough

L12 37569

Y13 37565 3 late arriving Wisbech for 13.56 to Lowestoft, on time on 22.22 to Peterborough

K14 37579 3 late arriving Wisbech for 14.26 to Lowestoft

K15 37575 24 late arriving Wisbech for 14.56 to Lowestoft. Because of this 37574 off K16 did the last leg of K15 and 37575 remained at Lowestoft

K16 37574 4 late arriving for 15.26 Wisbech - Lowestoft

K17 37578 5 late on 14.18 Wisbech - Peterborough

K18 37566 8 late on 14.48 Wisbech - Peterborough, 7 late returning

K19 37576 3 late on 15.18 Wisbech - Peterborough

John says "I spent an hour and a half on Lynn Bus Station this morning with the following results-
Coaches in from Hunstanton Schools "not in service" were 20105/20121.
In from Hunstanton with the first X40 was 20106. This remained on X40 at 09.15 and arrived back at 10.39-ish well loaded. The other X40 (10.15 departure) was 30901.
The first 55 to Terrington at 09.30 was 65526, showing destination, via, and service number all correctly. The 10.30, however, was 20105 which simply showed 55.
The only new recruit was Dart 43468 which was on North Lynn 44s"
On EABG Syd comments "37157 was transferred to Lowestoft this morning to replace 20104. 20107 was brought over to Lowestoft from Gt Yarmouth today to work local duties. It was on a Bernard Matthews contract this afternoon and is booked to work the 1810hr service 1 to Martham".


Sunday December 13th 2009 ~ Service Reduction

The new timetable came into effect today and one rather unexpected change is the withdrawal on a Sunday evening of the 20.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough and 22.10 return. The 17.48 from Lowestoft now terminates at King's Lynn at 20.44 and tonight it was 37578.
Today's service was entirely B9 worked. 37568/74 were both sidelined at Vancouver Avenue for new windows to be fitted. Once again some afternoon services ran late and both the 15.50 and 16.50 Lynn - Peterborough were about 10 late.

Saturday December 12th 2009 ~ It Actually Happened - Our First Low Floor Day !

Well it could only be a matter of time couldn't it ? Today the X1 finally managed a totally low floor service, well at least on the 19 long distance diagrams. All Santa's little helpers like 60863, 20107 and 34108 were banished and the service was worked by 37562-9, 37572-9, 37157/8/60. Another record of course with everything being a Gemini.

Timekeeping suffered with the pre-Christmas shoppers and at lunchtime Bruce and myself witnessed L12 18 late with 37578 and K16 22 late with 37157. At King's Lynn, 37570 was spare for servicing.


Friday 11th December 2009 ~ Chaotic Afternoon

Grahame was testing his new camera this morning and there is certainly nothing wrong with it if this fine photo is anything to go by. This is 37562 (oh yes it is) at Scratby this morning.

With Christmas beckoning, it was only to be expected that heavy traffic would take its toll on X1 punctuality and that's exactly what happened today.

Main news of the day though concerned the long awaited appearance of 37157 on the route. This did L12 and was 8 late from Wisbech going west and 23 late returning. Surely only a matter of time now before 37156 joins the throng. This will also presumably mean less frequent appearances by substitutes and today 34108 worked Y6 this morning and after a change of vehicle at Lowestoft 20107 did the afternoon part of the turn. 60863 was still about and this was on K16. Last night it disgraced itself by running out of fuel at Wisbech before departing on the 22.22 to Peterborough and this has happened before when it has worked Y13, only on the previous occasion it happened at Peterborough.

60863 was only about 5 late on the 13.15 King's Lynn to Peterborough, but clearly there must have been an A47 incident, because it was 46 late arriving at Wisbech on the 14.35 Peterborough to Gorleston and this had increased to 61 minutes in arrears by the time it was viewed by Bruce at Walpole Highway. Subsequent services were also delayed with K17 and 37579 25 late, K18 with 37567 16 late and K19 with 37576 a more respectable 5 late. For some reason 37567 was removed at Lynn and K18 looks to have gone forward with 37159. 159 returned on the last leg of K19 instead of 576.
K4 with 37568 was heavily delayed this evening and it was 28 late at Terrington St. John, but this had been reduced to 14 minutes on its return.
L8 is believed to have had the aforementioned 37159 taken off at Lynn this morning and 20106 then had a fling to Peterborough on the 09.15. Another B7, 37158 relieved the B10M at 13.02 and this was 13 late this evening, not helped by foggy conditions around Wisbech. Maintenance was carried out on 37564 at Lowestoft and 37573 at Lynn today and despite this Yarmouth even had the luxury of a spare vehicle. Grahame says "37562 was out and about around Yarmouth today, firstly this morning on the 1A to the JPH, it then later worked an X1 shuttle to Norwich and finished the day on the 6's to Bradwell!". Great stuff !


Thursday 10th December 2009 ~ West Walton X1s

A rather shaky photo of 37578 passing the King of Hearts pub at West Walton this afternoon during diversions.
A bit of scouting about at lunchtime revealed that the X1 was being diverted via West Walton village. Services from the coast turned right at 'The Highwayman' and then went down past Marshland High School to West Walton church before turning left to take the Walton Road into Wisbech. I was getting ready with my camera at 14.04 when unexpectedly 60863 of all things appeared heading for Lowestoft on what was either L12 running 27 minutes late or Y13 3 minutes early ! Shortly afterwards 37578 came through on K17 (see picture). As 578 had started the day on K18, it would seem that it probably overtook K17 which was 37575 first thing. K18 came back with 34108 according to Steven. Tonight L12 had 37566 and Y13 was 60863 which formed the 21.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough.

37158 came over on L11 this morning but was changed at Lynn for 37577 which was out for the 65th consecutive day.

20107 performed on K2 and must have done a phenomenal mileage on the X1 this year. Considering the diversion, things weren't too bad timewise, but 37564 was 22 late returning on Y6 this morning. Bruce says the average delay was only 10 minutes.


Wednesday 9th December 2009 ~ Bus Abandoned

Spot the difference ! 37562 (top) and 37158 (above) at Wisbech this afternoon photographed by Rob Brooks. Minimal 'First' branding on 562 and still no fleet numbers. The St. Trinians film should be a hit with all this publicity.

Jamie Robinson sent a text this morning just before 10am saying "37568 abandoned in layby at Eye nature reserve, no driver or passengers". It turned out that it had been working K2 but had failed and it was later recovered. A faulty idler pulley was the diagnosis and this should be fixed at King's Lynn on Thursday. Fortunately both 34108 and 37572 were both available at Lynn and one of these worked forward, while the other replaced 37563 on L11. The latter is suspected to be 34108 as it didn't come back and 37569 ended up on L11.
I was away today but even though closure of the B198 was forecast, Rob Brooks reported only very minor delays to services at Wisbech. Noted were :
37573 K15 1318 Wisbech - Peterborough a1319 d1321
37562 L12 1326 Wisbech - Lowestoft a1325 d1327
37578 Y13 1356 Wisbech - Lowestoft a1355 d1357
37158 K16 1348 Wisbech - Peterborough a1406 d1407
37577 K17 1418 Wisbech - Peterborough a1420 d1420
37565 K14 1426 Wisbech - Lowestoft a1422 d1424
37567 K18 1448 Wisbech - Peterborough a1447

Of note here is that the only delay of note was the service worked by a B7. For the first time since 28th November, all three B7s were on the X1 today, the other two were 37159 on L10 and 37160 on K3.


Tuesday 8th December 2009 ~ Destination 'Service'

Sam saw Paragon 20501 in Norwich this morning, it was running round with that famous old Eastern Counties destination on the front "Service". How long before we actually see it in real service I wonder ? He also saw Royale 34108 on an X1 which turned out to be K16, but it didn't last the day on this and was for some reason taken off the turn at Lynn at 15.57. It looks like either 20105 or more likely 37159 off repairs worked forward.
There were maintenance swaps occurring again today. 37562 was running very late on K5 this morning and was changed at Lowestoft for 37568 off an exam. L10 began the day with 37569, but this needed a service too and was changed for 37566. To complete the jigsaw 566 started on Y6 and then jumped a few turns to end up on L10 leaving 37562 to do Y6.
37160 returned to X1 duty today after a break - it was last out on the route on November 30th. It did K3 today. Finally news of 20107 which did K4. It was very late this evening on the 16.45 from Lynn to Peterborough and was 15 late returning. By 20.00 services were back to normal with the 20.10 from Walton Highway to Peterborough and 20.08 to Lowestoft both running a minute before time with 37566 and 37562.
The new roundabout on the B198 is nearly complete now and the road is to be closed tomorrow at this point for further work. It is assumed X1s will travel via the slip road at Walpole Highway and the A47 bypass to reach Wisbech as the route via West Walton church is probably not suitable.

Monday 7th December 2009 ~ The Adventures of 20118

Despite being an 'old school bus', 20118 had an interesting day today. It began the day on Schools Contract 4 and after completing the duty was commandeered to take the 16.15 X1 from King's Lynn to Peterborough after B7 37159 had received superficial damage on the turn. Late this evening 118 was joined by 20106 for a trip to Ely to cover rail replacement work on the route to King's Lynn. This work is scheduled to take place nightly until Thursday.
There was only one other swap today. With 37567 due for a safety service, it was taken off Y9 at Lowestoft and replaced by Royale 34108 for the 15.55 to King's Lynn.
37570 had a successful day on the road on K19 following last weeks visit to Volvo which was to have its adblu tank flushed out and injector adjustment. The other B9s will be having the adblu flush over the next few weeks. B10M Beast 20107 was out again today on L10, but B7s 37158/160 were locally employed at King's Lynn.


Sunday December 6th 2009 ~ Diversion Ends

37159 running late this afternoon seen passing Walpole Highway
37568 heads east on the 13.05 from Peterborough this afternoon. Nearly all B9s are carrying the two adverts shown for T Mobile and Warehouse Express.

The B198 at South Brink, Wisbech was reopened today after strengthening to the flood defences. this should aid punctuality on the X1, which again today was not brilliant. Services from the east were all a little late through Wisbech. 37159 had a rare run out on a Sunday and was 12 late on the 13.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough. More variety was provided by 34108 which appeared on the 07.30 from Yarmouth and later 15.48 from Lowestoft.

Volvo loan vehicle 37562 has had a good week and amassed over 2250 miles being out every day until today.

Saturday 5th December 2009 ~ Taking the Test

20109 has joined the ranks of doomed B10M coaches at Rowan Road now. 20131 is also seen here and just visible 20123 which may get a replacement engine and be reinstated. Also here is 20104 out of the picture. The Trident, 32850 is awaiting parts and will then return to Norwich.
37569 passes through Walpole on L12 today. On Saturdays this just comprises of a Lowestoft - Peterborough return trip. Note the rear destination box working, an increasing number of B9s have this facility out of order and 37567 has been like this for sometime.

Gemini 37570 has returned from tests at Volvo in Norwich and today did K19 for at least part of the diagram, however, it was taken off at Lynn at some point during the day and 37578 took its place. Punctuality was average today, but B7 37158 was 17 late at Walpole Highway on K3 16.33 to Peterborough tonight. An entirely low floor service today was avoided by the use of 34108 on K4. 37566 was L8 off servicing and thus giving 20107 a day off.

The demise of 20109 on Monday was interesting. It had been seen on K5 in the morning and it was taken off for its afternoon schools work. It was on this duty that it expired at Heacham and Monday was a bad day for schools as 20121 also failed, at Dersingham with flat batteries.


Friday December 4th 2009 ~ That Friday Feeling

Punctuality on Fridays has always been suspect of course. Today things began well and continued reasonably in that vein until late afternoon when the sheer volume of traffic on the roads coupled with the incessant roadworks resulted in K15 14.56 Wisbech to Lowestoft being exactly 30 minutes late with 37574. Other delays noted were Y7 with 37568 which was 17 late returning from Peterborough this morning and 20107 which did K2 was late by a similar margin at teatime. 34108 came out on Y9 with 37158 on Y13 and 37159 on K3. 37562 had a safety service and consequently did the last departure from Lynn, K5.
Y13 is a bit of an odd turn. It starts as the 'Y' suggests at Yarmouth at 07.30 and does a short run to Lowestoft before getting into its stride with the 08.15 thence to Peterborough. This morning, 37566 is believed to have done the first bit with 37158 taking over at Lowestoft. This meant 37566 could undergo a scheduled service.
Reports received recently indicate that the heating may not be working on several of the B9s. This has not been too much of an issue so far, but temperatures have been relatively mild and one hopes it will be resolved if we get a cold snap.

Thursday 3rd December 2009 ~ First the Bad News !

Heard today that the problem with 20109 is worse than feared. Completely out of the blue, the engine has seized and it doesn't look good. 20105 which was originally taken off the road for MOT prep has now been reassessed and instead, repairs are being effected so that it can last until its MOT expiry on February 4th and then - as things stand - be withdrawn. The Hunstanton schools contracts are currently in the hands of 20106/18/21. 20107 is still in regular X1 use - indeed the only one in this respect and today, it replaced 37578 at Lowestoft on K3 thus ending up at King's Lynn this evening. 20115 was last reported at Norwich and Jim informs me that 20500/1 have at last turned up there, rather unexpectedly accompanied by B10M 20102 (ex Essex also). As Lynn are expecting three coaches now, it would seem likely that it will be this trio.
Some good news involves withdrawn 20123. This is likely to be reinstated when time permits using parts from withdrawn examples.
Gemini 37570 disappeared off to Volvo for tests today, but such was availability that only three diagrams on the X1 started out with other vehicles. These were 34108 on K18, 37159 on L11 and 37158 on K16. The loan Gemini 37562 did K17 for the third successive day. Yesterday's replacement for 570 was in fact 37572 which has returned from Full Circle after bodywork repairs.


Wednesday 2nd December 2009 ~ The Curious Case of the Missing Buses !

We asked you to send in your photos of Santa ! - Alright I made that bit up, but here he is anyway at the helm of 37159 on K16 passing Walpole Highway this lunchtime.

Now here's a strange one - Bruce decided to have one of his X1 vigils today, but was dismayed to find that several services seemed to avoid his gaze by missing the villages and one assumes making up time by using the A47 dual carrageway. Here is the list of absentees not seen from his observation tower with times due at Walpole Highway :

K4 09.35 to Lowestoft : Seen going west with 8 late with 37573 but not seen returning
K5 10.05 to Lowestoft : not seen
L8 11.35 to Lowestoft : Went over 9 late with 37564 but didn't come back
L12 11.33 to Peterborough : not seen
So a pretty poor show for the village stops today. Maximum lateness achieved by buses that DID run was 37574 18 late on L11 11.03 westbound and 37568 13 late on K14 14.35 to Lowestoft.

L12 turned out to be 34108 and this was operating slightly late tonight on the 20.50 Lynn to Peterborough. K5 had 37576 fresh from servicing.
Strangely tonight I didn't see K4 17.18 Wisbech - Peterborough which I normally pass on the way home from work. It either didn't run or was at least 28 late. The latter would seem unlikely as 37573 was just about on time when viewed at Hardwick on the 19.35 Lynn - Lowestoft.
20107 was sent out on K1 this morning, but was replaced at Lowestoft by 37565 off an exam. 20107 then went on to the X2 and Michael Bryant viewed it on the 14.08 from Lowestoft. Most exciting sighting on the X2 today though was ex King's Lynn Leyland Olympian 34921 (G121YEV)which is on loan to Lowestoft currently and did the 13.38 from Lowestoft to Norwich.

37572 is still away receiving bodyside repairs and this afternoon 37570 was taken off K18 pending yet another visit to Norwich Volvo. It looks suspiciously as though 20109 replaced it. One B10M definitely seen today was 20118 which had an outing to Peterborough and back on L10 10.15 from King's Lynn instead of 37563. The B9 returned to the duty later and 118 was back in time to resume schools duty No. 4. The other two Hunstanton schools turns today were 20106 and 20121.

Tuesday 1st December 2009 ~ Santa & St. Trinians !

37573 on Weasenham Lane in Wisbech today working Y9. Tonight it lost the Kenco advert shown in favour of yet another campaign for T Mobile. Photo : Rob Brooks
37563 with ad for 'Paranormal Activity' which is presumably a reference to it being driven by a visitor from Lapland. Rob Brooks who took the picture assures me that it really was going to Lowestoft and not Lapland when photographed at Wisbech at lunchtime.

Even though today heralded the start of December it was nevertheless as surprise to find Rob Brooks reporting K16 and 37563 with Santa at the wheel. He always appears on the X1 every Christmas, but this seemed early by any standards. Meanwhile this evening, the billposter was on the prowl trying to seek out every errant B9 to plaster with new advertising for the latest T Mobile text offer and on the passenger sides publicity for the new sequel, 'St. Trinians 2'.
Yesterday we mentioned 37562 having been programmed to display X1 and the destinations properly, but one thing we missed recently was 37565 having also received the revised larger destination style.
Observation of daytime services today was minimal, but Bruce saw 37159 on K5 running 14 late from Peterborough this morning and this evening on the 18.35 from there it was still 7 late. Rob Brooks reports the following sightings :
37573 Y9 1156 Wisbech - Lowestoft at Weasenham Lane 1154 (7 late)
37569 L12 1148 Wisbech - Peterborough at Weasenham Lane 1156 (4 late) but on time returning
37564 L11 1256 Wisbech - Lowestoft arrived 1256 dep 1258
37575 K15 1318 Wisbech - Peterborough arr 1314 dep 1318
37563 K16 1348 Wisbech - Peterborough arr 1349 dep 1350
20107 Y13 1356 Wisbech - Lowestoft arr 1405
The above might not seem very impressive, but when one takes into account the delays still being encountered at the B198 roundabout works at Walton Highway - this can cost up to 4 minutes - and the longer diversionary route out of Wisbech, all in all punctuality was commendable.
Interesting to see 'the Beast' 20107 in action on Y13 having replaced 20126 which was out yesterday.
37570 was taken off Y6 tonight - reasons unknown and the 20.35 to Lowestoft left with 37564 which had arrived at 20.00 on L11.