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Sunday 27th February 2011 ~ X1 News !

Passengers enjoy the view from 37563 on the 10.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft this morning.
At last today came the news I was waiting for. I've known this for sometime, but was ordered that it was top secret info not to be blogged. The news is now in the public domain however and a completely independent (i.e. non -First) , but reliable source informs me that the next timetable change will see the X1 split up as we had feared.
 King's Lynn will operate separate services to Peterborough and Norwich, while Lowestoft will work a service to East Dereham. Is this the moment I've been waiting for  - a chance to finish the X1 blog at last ? Well we will have to wait and see. It will almost certainly mean that coaches will no longer be seen on the western part of the route, but hey, you never know ;+)
I was thinking yesterday that it was a great shame that Lynn and Lowestoft were not allowed to keep one serviceable coach each. This would have prevented the situation where a surplus of vehicles end up at the wrong end of the route while coaches are still operating. Whilst we are on the subject of coaches, 20126 does a regular schools contract at the Yarmouth end, it is suitable because the former Scottish B10Ms have more seats (and less legroom) than the former Eastern Counties and Thamesway examples. When 126 is unavailable, 20115 sometimes get used but, the driver then hopes that a few kids are off sick so that everyone gets a seat !

A new wiper motor was especially sent over from Lowestoft this afternoon and as a result 20107, seen here taking a well earned rest at King's Lynn garage, may well be on her travels again tomorrow.

37579 looks rather imposing in this picture taken (with permission) at King's Lynn tonight. These later Geminis were certainly a good buy and seem to go on forever.
 Today was a full Gemini service and 37572 was amongst them. It has been out every day now since January 4th. Y7 20.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft had 37569 tonight and yes, it is still doing its roadsweeper impression. Last night 37568 had to make a visit to Vancouver Avenue whilst working the 21.35 King's Lynn to Lowestoft as its indicator had stuck on. This was resolved by shutting the thing down, then restarting and rebooting the computer - I presume Geminis operate on Windows 95 !!! Another recent problem resolved this way was when 568 (again) came in with its hazard lights locked on.  37568 was OK today and was sent out from Lowestoft on there only Sunday turn, the 09.48 to Peterborough. It is the first Gemini to be seen with a new ad for Kelloggs Krave - 'Taste Unleashed' apparently.


Saturday 26th February 2011 ~ The Gemini Shuffle

37567 and 37158 were kept at Lowestoft today while 37570 retired to Vancouver Avenue, probably in preparation for its MOT. 37568/9 both returned to X1 service today.
37159 was used on K14, but on arrival at Lynn at 12.07, it was replaced by the 'Beast' which then worked the 12.15 to Peterborough. She was then booked to return as the 13.35 back to Lowestoft, but today's heavy showers exposed a faulty windscreen wiper, so on arrival back at King's Lynn she was banished to the depot to await a new wiper motor. 37159 was then again called upon to resume the turn. 20115 carried on the good work though and did K18 all day. I was annoyed as had I known 107 was on K14, I could have nipped up to the village to get a picture of it passing 115, however, just at that time there was a torrential downpour, so I guess the picture would have been poor anyway.
Here is a picture which is quite excellent to make up for it though. Grahame photographed 20126 at Martham today.

Friday 25th February 2011 ~ Bruce on the Loose

Well, our little mate had toddled off to the BBC at Reading for one of his regular visits, thus leaving the BLOG in the hands of the non-politically correct one.
The day started well at 08.00 with 37564 on time on K1 and 37578 on time with K5. K2 was on time with 37574 but Y6 was 7 late - it had to be a B7! - and 37158 duly passed by. Y7 startled me by nipping by only a couple of minutes late and with no Excel branding, so it had to be Baby Beast, 20115. K3 was 5 late with 37159.
The 09.30s were K4 - 37563 and L8 - 37573 both on time as were both the 10.00s with Y9 - 37577 and K5 - 37578 and 10.30s with L10 - 37570 and Y6 - 37158 (!!!!!).
Then sheer joy developed just after 11.00 as Baby Beast (20115 and first reg 1/1996) returned from Peterborough 6 late and passed L11 with the Beast (20107 and first reg 8/1995) in charge somewhere up at the other end of Walpole Highway village.
37573 returned L8 from Peterborough 6 late also and passed a total surprise on L12 in freshly repaired 37566. Y13 was 10 late at 12.14 with 37565 and K14 was on time - for the present - with 37567.

A trip to Hunstanton was dropped in my lap and I met 37572 on K15 at 13.04 - but leaving the Pullover Roundabout in Lynn when it should have been passing my house ,Gerard to extrapolate the degree of lateness.(around 13 minutes I reckon !)
Returning home, passengers were waiting for Y13 at 14.14 , so 37565 must have been 10+ minutes late. A trip to Terrington St John was required of me next, so I stood outside for 30 minutes and noted 37567 (K14) was now 12 late returning from Peterborough with K14. But where was K18?
I parked in Terrington where I could see the road and 37156 duly turned up 4 minutes lates on K19 until .......
...........37576 turned up two minutes later on the real K19, 37156 being K18 34 minutes late! No sign of K15 as I returned home , making that over 10 minutes late as well. But note the traffic has been unusually heavy all round today though.
K16 - 37160 and K17 - 37575 were both 10 late returning from Peterborough.To finish the day, or so I thought, K18 and 37156 reappeared in the village spot on time - anyone want to take bets it didn't go further than Wisbech? Personally I think it was eager to get back to Des!
However, while out feeding the horses this evening, a missive was received from a caring young man from Yarmouth to say he had brought the Beast back to Lynn, still on L11 where it can be washed and dried with clean white towels and hopefully kept in the garage overnight. A further communication from said young man informed me that Baby Beast had completed Y7 and was also at Lynn over night. So they are all here bar 20126!
And the young man? - I have no doubt he is even now returning to Yarmouth with L8 and 37573 in search of his own 37156.
Blog sub Editor
Well I have to say, I think I am redundant with such a comprehensive report in my absence !
Des adds "20107 - L11 16.55 Lowestoft to King's Lynn - On time till 4 late at Easton (18.44), 6 late at Hockering (18.51), 3 late at Dereham (19.02), 4 late at Necton (19.23), 1 late at Swaffham  (19.30), on time into Lynn - L11 has 15 mins less running time from Lowestoft to Lynn than L10 in front of it. My day finished with 37573 on the 21.35 Lynn to Lowestoft, then light to Yarmouth - On time.".
Malcolm writes " My sightings today : Saw 37156 work the K18 10.55 service to Peterborough, 37568 was spare in Gordon Road, 20126 worked the 10.40 1A service to Martham and 34111 worked the 10.38 X2 service to Norwich". Thanks Malcolm, so that means there were three B10Ms in use locally today. I would imagine 37568 was recovering from being serviced ! 37569/571/579 were all off the road for various reasons today and Grahame reports that 37157 has turned up at Yarmouth for MOT.
I have a suspicion that 37577 may have joined the ranks of Geminis with a noisy fan, 37156 most certainly has along with 37569. May be repairs are taking longer now that the warranty on the B9s has expired ?

Thursday 24th February 2011 ~ And Then There Were Two !

The weather today was superb and a refreshing change from the gloomy days we've suffered recently. The X1 was on top form too with 4 minutes being the maximum lateness recorded through Wisbech. The public seemed to be lifted by the good weather as well, with loadings on the morning services to Peterborough being positively heavy from Wisbech.
King's Lynn had the luxury of being able to carry out booked servicing on 37575 & 37576 without sending them out on completion. This was because 'The Beast' was used on K16 and 37158 & 37160 were also out on K18 & K5.
Biggest surprise of the day was Lowestoft swapping 37568 on K4 for 20115. It was a week since the coach last appeared, so whether it has been toddling around Lowestoft in the interim is unknown.
Des says "I had 37563 on Y7 15.42 Yarmouth to King's Lynn. We departed Yarmouth on time and were still on time at Norwich, then we were 4 late at Easton at 16.47, 6 late at Hockering, 4 late at Dereham, 8 late at Toftwood Millwrights Arms at 17.19, 7 late at Necton, 2 late at Swaffham (17.39) , the same at Narborough and East Winch, but on time into Lynn at 18.07. I came back on K4 19.35 ex Lynn with 20115 on time throughout. 37568 was viewed entering Norwich bus station at 16.27 on the X2. 20107 passed en route at Dereham on time".
37575 has now amassed 280 thousand miles, so at the current rate, all being well, should pass the 300,000 mark before the end of April.


Wednesday 23rd February 2011 ~ 22 for 19

In theory, 22 buses for 19 diagrams should work fine most of the time. Knock out one (let's call it 37566 for convenience) and that then means only two buses are spare. This was tested to the limit today with 37566 absent and 37160 off for servicing at Lynn, however, this still left one bus spare surely ? Read on ...
37565 on Y6 was for some reason (late arrival or possible defect) unable to continue forward at 08.15 to Peterborough, so 37572 was sent from Vancouver Avenue, where it had been the third spare bus. This worked the western leg, but 37565 was fit to resume the turn at 11.02 to Lowestoft. 572 then retired again for further repairs to be carried out, but it was later seen departing the garage at 15.40, possibly on a test run.
37157 on L10 was due for servicing today, but with this being a Lowestoft bus, it was taken off there this afternoon and 'The Beast' 20107 took over. This was because the two spare Geminis (37160 & 37572) were both at the wrong end, so to speak. I drove to Walpole tonight to check if 565 was back on Y6 (it was) and waited to check that 157 was still on L10, I was rewarded with 20107 running 6 late.
Most services were pretty near time today and all less than 10 minutes late.


Tuesday 22nd February 2011 ~ Hardy Passenger

Malcolm decided to go the whole hog today and do the X1 route in its entirety from Lowestoft to Peterborough and return. Normally people who do this marathon actually get paid for doing so, i.e. the drivers ! Malcolm started out on L12 with 37571 from which he took a teabreak at King's Lynn and this was as far as 571 got too, because it was replaced here by 37159. Reason for this change is unknown, but I expect Richard gave 571 a good telling off for escaping from its normal job of K17. Today 37573 handled the latter diagram. The timetable ws largely adhered to today once again and only K16 with 37158 seemed to suffer delay - this was 6 late into Wisbech this afternoon heading east. 37566 and 37578 were absentees today, meaning that all five B7s had to work in order to provide a full low floor service.
Des provides a fuel price update for us today viz : Lynn (Tesco) - 128.9, Easton (Sains) - 127.9 and Low (Tesco) - 127.9.


Monday 21st February 2011 ~ 37571 unleashed

Time today for one of those sad stats which I come up with every so often. 37571 was kept overnight at Yarmouth which as I said before is not uncommon on a Sun/Mon. I think this is because the Lynn drivers signing on on Sundays get to pretty much choose their own bus, hence the B7s being left behind and 571 getting a regular run out. If it is taken on a run which ends up back at Lynn, Richard can then use it on K17 as usual on the Monday and - more often than not - it will remain on this turn all week. Today was unusual however, as Yarmouth turned 571 out on the first duty of the day, Y6 which ends up at Lowestoft.
Now this is where the sad fact comes in ! This was the first time 571 had worked Y6 since 15th May 2009, this being before it was involved in the Thorney crash. It duly completed the turn and ended up at Lowestoft tonight.
L12 was in trouble this morning with 37568 being unable to continue as the 11.15 King's Lynn to Peterborough. 37570 was summoned to take over and later at 14.15, 37568 was seen leaving Vancouver Avenue, presumably on test. There is a strong possibility that it may have replaced 37578 on K17 16.32 to Lowestoft.
37158 had its booked service at Lynn today and apart from 37566, all the other Geminis were on the X1 giving an all low floor service.
Des reports : "Back to work after 11 days off!!!! 37571 on Y6 from Yarmouth to start (see above), 37159 - K3 09.32 King's Lynn - Lowestoft. Departed 2 minutes late at 09.34 after late arrival. On time for rest of journey.  This bus has a top speed, as per digi tach, (not speedo) of 78 kph (78 Kilometers per Hour = 48.46695299451205 Miles per Hour.)  I departed Acle at 11.42 and didn't see an oncoming vehicle until 11.51. An extra wide load, a very large box on a low loader that came 1/4 into my lane. I pulled onto the verge and allowed it to pass, it was travelling approx 10 mph! A few hundred yards behind the the large load was 37572 (K18 10.55 ex Low, that was now going to be extremely late into Acle and beyond.).Road works start today at the Gorleston Library with traffic lights for the next 8 weeks. I was at the lights as the fixed lights and the temp lights were both in simultaneous operation. I followed the the fixed lights which meant I went through through a temp red!!!".
Following on from this, I can report that on an excellent day for punctuality, 37572 was the only service seen delayed beyond 5 minutes. It was just 8 late from Wisbech on the 14.48 to Peterborough.


More Coaches....

After my dismal picture of the B7 Profile in Edinburgh taken last Monday, Stuart Montgomery sent me this one which knocks spots off mine. We are also highly honoured, as he normally restricts himself to photographing Lothian buses !

Obviously regularly used on school runs too,  judging by the yellow transfer, here 20358 was on a X prefixed service.

Jim kindly sent this picture of 20102 taken last Sunday at Ipswich. She has subsequently spent much of the week on hydraulic jacks and to think we almost got her on the X1 !!

Sunday February 20th 2011 ~ No News is Good News

Well that is what they say isn't it ? No reports of any delays today and the service was worked by ten of the B9 Geminis. Only thing of note was 37571 doing K6 10.10 from Peterborough, which on arrival at Lowestoft terminates and then goes light to Yarmouth for Monday. Normally 571 is a permanent Lynn overnight resident, although in recent weeks it has been a Sunday regular which has on occasion led to it ending up on the coast.

37157 was used as the Yarmouth crew taxi to Norwich this lunchtime. It is seen on the forecourt at Caister Road and was photographed by Grahame Bessey.
 Last weekend, the Gemini fleet were kitted out with new adverts for Nescafe Original 3 in 1 (not to be confused with the household oil !) and the Johnny Depp film 'Rango'. If one disregards the absent 37566, only one of the entire X1 fleet avoided receiving the new ads, this being 37572 which was out late on both nights last weekend. Incidentally, 572 is the current 'Mr Reliable' having worked on every day since January 4th.
37578 is seen at King's Lynn garage with the 'Rango' ad currently being sported on all but 5 of the B9s.


Saturday 19th February 2011 ~ Pink Duck !

An entirely Gemini worked service today with no swaps, just how it should be. The service ran pretty much to timetable and 37571 12 late on K15 was the black sheep, but even this had recovered some time by the time it returned east through Wisbech about 9 late.
In addition 37158 and 37577 were undergoing routine checks at King's Lynn garage, while there is no new news on absent 37566.
Christine suggests that the picture we included on Thursday of 37574 with seatbelts connected is indicative of an MOT and I agree, but is not the reason in this case. 37570 - 79 have MOT tests in order and 570 should be the first dealt with next week.
The 'pink duck' contacted me today - yes honestly ! Foresaid aquatic bird sent a link to a map of the X1 (and other local bus) routes for our perusal. A lot of work has gone into this and PD asks if there are any amendments to the route shown. If you know of any, please let me know and I will forward them on :

Friday 18th February 2011 ~ Clean and Punctual

Peter says "On another very clean 37159 on the 07.09 to Peterborough on time this morning . Don't know who decided to deep clean these buses, but it is very noticeable and welcome. Later I had the same bus on the 17.40 from Peterborough rail station, near enough on time again and this on a Friday ! What is more all heaters were working and it was very pleasant. We took a diversion through Eye village to avoid the queues on the main road, commendable'.
Having viewed all 19 diagrams today, the heaviest delay was only 9 minutes to K15 with 37573. Traffic into Wisbech was very heavy early this afternoon and 37571 on K17 lost 7 minutes as a result.
20107 completed its weeks work on K14, paving the way for an all low floor weekend me thinks. 37156 was viewed by Malcolm spare at Lowestoft Gordon Road at just before midday as 37570 departed on K1 11.55 to Peterborough. A little later Michael Bryant reports 37156 in use on the 12.38 X2 to Norwich.


Thursday 17th February 2011 ~ A Clean Sweep

Peter writes "Did 37574 on K5 from Wisbech to Peterborough this morning, it was remarkably clean (inside and out) and smelling very fresh. Someone had even taken the trouble to rearrange all the seatbelts!
An X1 on the inside
We were late arriving so driver went direct to the rail station at 0905 so return working was on time - wonder why they all don't do that? Later I was on the 17.10 from Peterborough with another very clean Gemini, 37569".
I know that King's Lynn have started a 'deep cleaning' programme this week Peter and 37574 was the first to be dealt with. As 37569 was off the road at Lynn yesterday for repairs, I think the opportunity was probably taken to smarten that one up too.
I thought we'd include a picture of the Gemini seats, just in case anyone is still confused by my photo taken of me on the Leyland National which appeared everywhere recently.
B10M 20115 was used on the 14.08 Lowestoft - Norwich X2 today after having been seen in the bus station by Malcolm at 10.45 , while 37156 was at Gasworks Road for attention. 37159 had its MOT at Lynn today.
On the X1 punctuality was excellent and 20107 prevented an all low floor day by working Y7. One of our Lowestoft correspondents has put me right regarding the 14.38 X2 from Lowestoft to Beccles which "does NOT go onto a School run. In fact it normally operates the 1610 X2 Norwich to Beccles. This will alter when the new X2 timetable starts soon". Thanks very much for that.
RA has kindly sent this picture of 20102 during its short stay at Lowestoft last week  and Syd says "It arrived early afternoon on the Friday, worked the 1438 X2 to and from Norwich, 1803 X2 to Beccles returning light, 2315 99 to Southwold, and finally light to Bernard Matthews for the 0040 Contract back to Lowestoft".


Wednesday 16th February 2011 ~ Rare Working

Up until a couple of years ago, it was commonplace to see King's Lynn Scania single deckers substituting for X1 coaches. The advent of the Geminis largely put paid to this and last year - as far as we know - there was just a single sighting of a Scania on the X1, this was on 7th January 2010 when bad weather saw 65531 used on a short run to Peterborough and back.
Peter texted this morning to say that while travelling towards Norwich at Necton at 10.10 he had encountered 37157 followed almost immediately by 37568 - the latter showing 'sorry not in service' on its screen. Both buses had come out of Lowestoft this morning, but because of the circumstances, I'm not sure which was L10 and which L11. In the end 37157 continued through to Peterborough as L11, while L10 ran from King's Lynn to the Cathedral City and back with Scania 65528 !! It is, quite frankly, surprising that this sort of thing doesn't happen more often, but in recent times it has - following the withdrawal of most of the B10Ms - become common practice to cancel services when an incoming X1 has been delayed.
This was therefore the undisputed highlight if the day. The Beast was back today and was used on K1 following yesterday's repairs. Y13 yesterday was 37569, but it was late on the 21.50 Lynn to Peterborough and in fact I'm beginning to wonder if a substitute took this turn, as 569 was sidelined at Lynn today with a fuel problem.
Malcolm from Lowestoft kindly provided some sightings today, most notable of which was 20115 working the 14.38 Lowestoft to Beccles X2,  followed by the usual school contract. Michael Bryant reported this too and he adds, " I know you tipped me off at lunchtime Gerard that 20115 and 37565 might be spare today, but I wasn't prepared to find 20115 on the 006 Beccles schools run, followed by 37565 on the 007 !'
Meanwhile, our man in the know at Lowestoft says "Just thought you would like to know about 20102's movements last week. It was borrowed by Lowestoft on Friday, 11th February. This was because the engineers fell behind with servicing (due to a broken workshop door) and more buses would be unavailable than normal on Friday afternoon.
It arrived in time for Friday PM peak and performed on the X2 and an evening 99 trip. It might well have beeen used on the X1, but for the fact that it was needed back at Ipswich by 0700 Monday. In fact it went back on Sunday morning. Incidentally, the schools were NOT off this week, half term around here is w/c 20th February". Well good to have cleared up that little mystery and thanks to our source for that info.

Here is 65528 on its way to Peterborough - sadly not taken today, but on a sunnier occasion in 2009.  It looked very smart today as indeed it does here.


Tuesday 15th February 2011 ~ Poorly Beast

After all the headlines and other publicity, the 'Beast' finally succumbed to exhaustion today. It was sent out on K1 05.40 King's Lynn to Peterborough this morning, but was ailing and failed at Terrington St. John. Something to do with the throttle linkage apparently. 37577 was sent out as a replacement and completed the turn. By this evening 20107 had been repaired and will no doubt be back refreshed on Wednesday.
Just to prove that the B10Ms are still capable of a good days work, 20115 was standing in on K14, spot on time.
There was a top level X1 blog management meeting today. It took place in Wetherspoons at Wisbech and was attended by Bruce, our Yarmouth correspondent and myself. Items on the agenda included the recent publicity machine, the low floor business and our forthcoming trip to the South Coast planned for next month !
Des sent in some photos of today's jaunt :

K14 14.32 to Lowestoft with 20115 at King's Lynn this afternoon. 

.... and here at Wisbech 
about to convey X1 dignitaries back to their homes.

K17 with 37571 departs on the 14.18 Wisbech to Peterborough as 20115 arrives to form the 14.26 to Lowestoft.
37156 looks quite smart here. It was ready to depart from King's Lynn on Y9 09.45 to Peterborough.
  Timekeeping was very good today, 37564 and 37157 were absentees at Lowestoft and 37159 is on MOT prep at Lynn. There have been no further developments on 37566 which is still at Volvo.
An anonymous reader says "I see from your blog that you have heard that the ‘FINAL DECISION’ was duly made about the X1 and this was actually not to make a decision! Doesnt it make you wonder what these people are paid for? The big news is that VOSA have agreed not to moan about timekeeping ( they actually started the problem ) and this undertaking from them has seen any changes postponed, at least until late Spring".
We briefly mentioned 20102's visit to Lowestoft at the weekend and I am told it actually worked a couple of X2 turns before being banished back to Ipswich.


X1 - The Future, Part 2

Sometime ago, rumours were rife that the X1 was about to be split into segments in order to avoid the compounded delays which sometimes occur. There were other rumblings too, the X1 avoiding Hockering probably causing the most rumpus, as well as possibly being rerouted to miss Toftwood (an option which I personally subscribe to, simply because Toftwood would be better served by a local service).
Yarmouth drivers, I was told from several sources, were to be taken out of the route altogether. Definitely Peterborough to Hunstanton / Dereham and Lowestoft to Norwich and Dereham said others regarding the proposed route split. This blog has purposely kept quiet about the plans, despite being in 'the know' for a couple of weeks now.
As you've probably guessed, today it was put on record that - well for the moment anyway - nothing major is going to change. I should think not too with all this publicity ! Here is the link from today's EDP.
 I, personally, hope the X1 has a solid future, not least because of all the good friends I have made who deserve some job security in these trying times, but also because when it runs well it is hard to beat. Take travelling to Peterborough for example. I never think of driving there these days, unless absolutely forced. The VFM afforded by the X1 coupled with the convenient location of Queensgate bus station, mean for me that driving is a last resort.

Monday 14th February 2011 ~ 20102 Surely Not ?

The local message boards have apparently been a buzz of activity this weekend after 20102 - the B10M coach that's painted white and looks rather smart, but more importantly has never worked an X1 - was sent from Ipswich to Lowestoft on Saturday with the intention of using it on a schools diagram, surely giving it X1 potential ? Problem is, schools out this week, so 20102 promptly returned to Ipswich yesterday :+(
Oh well, may be one day soon it will make its X1 debut ? In the meantime, we have quite enough entertainment to deal with. Today saw the Beast working L11 and Y13 turning up with 20115. As on Saturday, two B10Ms were out deputising from the outset. This had previously occurred as far back as 27th September, so is hardly a common phenomenon.
There were a couple of swaps today. K16 with 37563 came back west with 37157 and K1 appears to have changed 37564 for 37569. Out of traffic today was 37570 (King's Lynn safety service), 37159 (MOT) and 37566 (Volvo).

Spotted in Edinburgh this lunchtime was B7 coach 20358 - a sister of 20351-3 which were formerly used on the X1. It is seen here in Princes Street on a normal stage route service.

I arrived back in East Anglia this evening and had to leg it from the train to catch K5, the 18.40 from Peterborough rail station. I needn't have exerted myself as with tickets bought and passengers aboard, 37160 then refused to start. After consultations with the garage at King's Lynn, the driver then briefly disappeared to the engine compartment and on his return managed to start 37160. A sticking solenoid on the starter motor had been the cause, one which is far from unhard of with the Geminis. Steven the dtiver then made an effort to make up time and an eleven minute late departure was reduced to just a 7 minutes late arrival into Wisbech. With the speed limitations of a B7, I thought this was quite a good performance.

Sunday 13th February 2011 ~ Infamy, Infamy ....

They've all got it in for me. With apologies to the late Kenneth Williams. My sister informs me that I have had a 'couriergram' from Aysha who wants me to contact her in relation to featuring the blog on ITV's 'Daybreak'. Well I never ! Stuart from Anglia News is also on the warpath - I'm so glad I'm in Scotland, even though I am a fan of Anglia News.

Here's something I meant to post on Friday. Just to show that First don't have a monopoly on B10M workings. Emblings YIL3196 was working the Friday Downham service from Wisbech this week. It was formerly registered as N133 SJF
 Today Brucey was on the ball with a list of B9 Geminis working the X1. 37564 & 37567 were the only Lowestoft examples with 37571 - 37578 inclusive holding the fort in typically reliable King's Lynn fashion.

Saturday 12th February 2011 ~ Saturday becomes 'Sun' Day

This morning I was rudely awoken by a knock on my bedroom door. My host Stuart (he of Lothian Buses fame), announced "Rob's been on the 'phone - you're in the Sun and Daily Mail this morning ".
Yeah right ? I turned over to get a few more minutes rest. Imagine my surprise then, when I actually got up and was immediately directed to the laptop with the 'Sun' website carrying its own version of yesterday's EDP story. The Mail Online also featured the blog today. I'm sure it's the World that has gone mad and not me !!
Anyway, to the X1 - yes remember that ? That's why this blog exists. This morning was rather wet in Great Yarmouth, but early bird Grahame Bessey was around to capture this unusual working. Obviously a bit miffed at all this attention the Beast has been getting, 20115 decided to show its paces on the 07.45 Lowestoft to Peterborough & 12.35 return. Here she is at Market Gates :
Quite why 20115 was used is unclear, but it could be standing in for the poorly 37566 I suppose. Lowestoft should have had a spare Gemini today, but it too was unavailable. L11 had 37569 changed for 37567 at Lowestoft today and in case you were wondering, 20107 aka The Beast, was marauding along on K14. L8 was the only working which evaded our team of X1 spotters - it was either 37568 or 37579, may be someone can confirm which ?


Friday 11th February 2011 ~ Out Of The Country

Passengers board 37569 at Peterborough rail station today. It departed 8 minutes late on the 10.05 to Lowestoft due to heavy traffic locally.
As I mentioned in Thursday's blog, I travelled up to Scotland today. This involved me utilising the X1 - yes I do actually use it sometimes ! - to get to Peterborough. 37569 could be heard approaching Wisbech bus station well before it hove into view thanks to its noisy fan. A respectable number of joining passengers made our departure at 09.25, seven minutes behind schedule. Slow traffic plus stops to pick up punters at Thorney Toll and both Thorney village stops saw us into Queensgate bus station at shortly after 10.09. This meant we had lost a further 6 minutes which shows how tightly timed the service is at peak times. Arrival at the rail station was at 10.12, thirteen minutes late. Y7 may have lost further time, as 37569 was retired at Lowestoft and 37157 took over for the 14.55 back to King's Lynn.
Bruce, Cheryl and Peter filled in the gaps for me today and 'The Beast' - by this time a celeb of course - turned up on L12. 37578 was spare at Lynn today for servicing.
Thanks to Donna for producing a nice article in the EDP today. I had expressed initial reservations because I thought 'First' would not be keen, however, it was written in the genuine manner one has come to expect from this paper.

Valentines Day Newsflash

Just to confirm that the blog will resume on Tuesday with updates covering the period since my last post on Thursday.
The X1 blog has been online for quite a while now, but suddenly I find myself blinded by the glare of publicity ! I'm sure it will all settle down soon - thanks to all our regulars for keeping things up to date in my absence. G


Thursday 10th February 2011 ~ Rosemary's Jigsaw

We haven't had a day with wholesale swaps for quite sometime, the X1 having been positively well behaved. There was no indication either that today would be 'one of those days', whereas in fact it turned out to be one of those evenings ! Punctuality throughout the day was once again excellent, but it all went pear shaped after 16.00 which was when an A47 accident on the single carriageway at North Tuddenham caused disruption. The 20.35 King's Lynn - Lowestoft had 37565 in diagram and the 21.35 37568, but at 22.45 these were both already in King's Lynn garage as was 37567 which in theory should have been on L12 between Peterborough and Wisbech. Y13 was unaffected and ran as booked with 37572.
It was nice to meet KL supremo Rosemary who was checking tacho readings tonight, but unfortuantely her list of impending arrivals matched my observations book and instead of 37573 turning up on L10, 37568 arrived instead.
20107 was used on K14 again today, but this time worked the full turn as the only vehicle which could have replaced it, 37157, was stopped for maintenance.
The three King's Lynn based B7 Geminis are currently undergoing MOTs. Last Thursday 37160 re-entered service and today 37158 did likewise and even managed to do a trip from Lynn to Peterborough and back this evening during the height of the delays. Tomorrow 37159 is due for a chassis wash and this means it should also be sidelined until Thursday next. 37159 was actually used on K16 today, but was removed this afternoon with freshly serviced 37576 working forward as the 16.02 Lynn to Lowestoft.
I'm keeping a low profile now for a few days - probably advisable as I'm told that the EDP article may appear in Friday's edition - and will be getting away from it all in Edinburgh. The next blog should be on Tuesday, but in the meantime, all sightings and news are welcome at the usual email address. Cheers Gerard.


Wednesday 9th February 2011 ~ The Curse of 37566

I always try and give a balanced account of proceedings and one thing which never ceases to amaze me is the vast number of casualty free miles amassed by the B9 Geminis. Their reliability can only be described as excellent, however, there is always a bad penny as they say. In this case it surely has to be 37566 ? I don't know if anyone at head office is supersticious, but if so, alarm bells must have been ringing very early on with 566. It was involved in two minor accidents after a very short time in traffic and since then has gained the ugly duckling reputation of being out of traffic more than any of the other members of the fleet.
After being replaced by 20107 yesterday, it was serviced but today it appeared at Yarmouth garage in a bad way yet again. (See the blog entry for November 11th last for another occasion when this happened). This time it sounds quite serious. The o/s drive shaft was leaking. Further investigation by the roving Volvo man (Marty) showed that the 'diff pinion bearing' was shot. Bruce seems to think this could be a bit of a so and so to access and it would seem that a part will have to be sourced abroad.
Meanwhile, the rest of the B9 fleet fared better and apart from 37575 receiving a service at Lynn, the rest were all in action.
37568 had an interesting day again today. It worked Y7 06.10 Yarmouth to Peterborough and then the 10.05 Peterborough to Lowestoft. I have a sneaking suspicion that 568 actually terminated at Wisbech on the 06.10, as I didn't see it in either direction, but it definitely passed through Walpole Highway on the 10.05, which may consequently have started at Wisbech. It was then due to be serviced, but a vehicle shortage saw it pressed into further use instead. Syd writes "37568 had a run out this evening on one of the remaining 99 runs to Southwold. As far as we are aware this is the first instance of a B9 working a late journey, and with only weeks until withdrawal of the 99,  will almost certainly be the only occasion.  37568 was firstly used on a couple of X2 journeys, including the 1803 Beccles short. It was still parked in the Bus Station when 42450 had problems with the air brake pressure prior to departure to Southwold at 21.15 and 568 was substituted. Enclosed are a couple of pictures taken by our man on the spot, James Race".

37568 departing to Southwold this evening.

...and here's 568 refuelling at Lowestoft Gasworks Road at 23.15. Copyright James Race
 A little bit of history captured there then, but back on the X1, 'The Beast' had a funny day too. Having worked K14 05.37 Lynn to Lowestoft, the driver to take the 08.55 back to Peterborough failed it as being too cold. 37567 was hastily found and took over. 20107 hadn't finished though and when 568 was stopped on Y7, it filled the breach and worked back to King's Lynn on the 14.55 service. Incidentally, it wasn't the only B10M out locally today as Stagecoach P108 FRS was viewed on a driver training run at the South Gates at 12.01 and at Wisbech at 12.54... but back on the X1 again, L8 had the dubious distinction of being worked by the sluggish 37156. This was its first appearance on the X1 this month, Y6 had the noisy 37569 taken off at King's Lynn tonight and 37573 worked forward.
Des had a good day today viz :
37570 - 07.30 Yarm> Low - On time
37570 - 08.15 Low > Pet (me off at Lynn) - On time
37574 - 13.02 Lynn > Low (me off at Yarm) - On time
37159 - 16.40 Yarm > Low - On time
He adds "On the first part of my shift I drove 37570 from 07.20 out of Yarmouth Depot until 11.37 at Lynn - 4 hours 17 mins, yet the digi tacho showed a driving time of 3 hours 50 mins. The digi tacho takes out all of the waiting at various points".
Delays were few and far between today as Des suggests and only K4 08.35 from Peterborough upset the figures, 37563 being 11 late into Wisbech.

Tuesday 8th February 2011 ~ Lights, Camera, Action

Matthew our local photographer from the Eastern Daily Press met up with Bruce and myself this morning. Fortunately, after several dismal days, the sun decided to shine for us and photographs were obtained for possible publication (are the EDP readers ready for this I ask myself ?)
The driver of 37573 on K2 may be about to enjoy a minute of fame as a result. You 'First' people who read the blog, may be interested to know that we spoke about you all in glowing terms and I suppose it is true to say that we are indeed a sort of fan club.
I'm pleased to be able to report a sighting of 'The Beast' today. 37566 began on L8, but was taken off for servicing at Lowestoft at 15.10, 20107 being provided for the 15.25 back to Peterborough, however, on its return, a wheelchair passenger required to board at King's Lynn and the powers that be decided that 37568 which had come into Lynn on L11 should be substituted. Now 37568 was due for servicing yesterday as you may recall, but this was postponed because of a vehicle shortage, hence it doing L11.
37563 disgraced itself this morning. It expired at Thorney on K4 with a water leak and was eventually taken back to King's Lynn for repairs. 37160 which had been on local duities then took up the diagram.
37576 which has been in the wars recently, looked to be in trouble again today. The timetable was pretty much abided by, but 576 on K19 was the exception. It was 15 late from Wisbech on the 16.56 to Lowestoft and on my way home from work, I found myself at the end of a stream of motorists tailing 576 which seemed capable of nothing more than 45mph. This begs the question, was 576 having more suspension worries - it certainly looked that way - or was it merely a driver taking it steady ?

Monday 7th February 2011 ~ Early Start

The day didn't begin well for me. On the days when my morning is running smoothly, I aim to be at Walpole Highway to view the 08.31 to Lowestoft - now you have to bear in mind that according to the official X1 timetable, Walpole Highway (School) is an 'additional stopping point' rather than a proper bus stop, which may be gives a little leeway - so this morning I did just that. Only problem was that approaching the village, I could see K2 (as we term it) striding across the fields towards Terrington St. John at 08.30 ! So, can I put in a request here, that the driver of the 08.21 from Wisbech to Lowestoft departs at 08.23, so as not to run early through Walpole and also to ensure that I see what bus it is ? Oh, and you can give me and Bruce a wave if you like as we are usually outside his bungalow just after 08.30 to see what is going on.
OK, so where was I ? Oh yes, running early, well K16 with 37579 was another such service today, seen departing Wisbech for Peterborough a minute before time. At the other end of the scale, K4 08.35 from Peterborough had 37565 seven minutes late past me at 09.27, but generally the timetable was commendably adhered to.
Roadworks on the A47 this evening saw diversions in operation via Wisbech St. Mary, so whilst at my crib match at the Rose Tavern, X1s were passing by outside on North Brink. Marion pointed this out to me, otherwise I was so involved in the card playing, I possibly wouldn't have noticed. Thanks Maz !
 L10 went by on its way back to Lynn at 21.55, so there was no way that escaped attention, 569 still sounding like a jet propelled roadsweeper. Y13 which had earlier been seen with 37576, passed by on the last Peterborough almost on time, but with 37159 as a replacement. I suspect 576 was taken off to have its home depot look at the suspension after yesterday's failure.
There was one other swap tonight. K2 had 37578 - for that was the B9 which I'd earlier seen crossing the  fields - replaced at King's Lynn by 37568 which had just come in on Y7 and which required servicing at Lowestoft. All the B9s were in service aided by 37157 & 37160 to give an all low floor service.

Mr. Speed says "Rather a gusty day today, worst of it felt from Guyhirn to Thorney on 37563 (L11) with wind blowing hard onto the nearside, whilst return on the same leg was hardly felt. 'Drive Green' didn't like the actions of the wind and all three buses I drove today were a regular flash of amber lights at every jostle of the breeze!
A regular passenger of a certain age, who always wears camouflage clothing and travels to Walpole Highway from Wisbech boarded today (Ah yes , I know exactly who you mean Des). He went to get off at Walpole School and stumbled and fell. I assisted and he told me that he'd just discharged himself from hospital (and had the dressing over the area of his left hand that would have been where his cannula would have been.) Within a few minutes a young couple came out of one of the bungalows near the bus stop and told me that they would take care of him. REALLY NICE PEOPLE IN WALPOLE AREN'T THEY?" - well of course Des, not being biased in any way, I could have told you that lol and to which I might add, really nice drivers on the X1 aren't they ?


Sunday 6th February 2011 ~ A Vital Link

I think Sundays more than any other day illustrate so well why the X1 is a vital link. Locally we get healthy numbers using the service on a Sunday, although the late night services are always a cause for concern.
 Last year, 'First' withdrew the early Sunday morning turn from Lynn to Peterborough and instead now send a bus empty (or 'light' as those in the business would say) to Wisbech which then departs at 09.00 to Lowestoft. At the same time, the 20.50 Lynn to Peterborough was also withdrawn, giving a two hour gap on a Sunday evening between 19.50 and the last service to Peterborough at 21.50. One can only hope that further cuts don't have to be made.
Very low floor ! 37576 at Norwich today.
A full B9 timetable was in operation today and all services seen ran to timetable. There was a hiccup though as 37576 had a suspension problem, which resulted in an unusual change of bus at Norwich. 576 which was on the 09.10 from Peterborough began to misbehave en route and as luck would have it 37572 had been brought to Norwich by a Yarmouth driver and the swap then took place, so that 576 could be examined.


Saturday 5th February 2011 ~ Press Release

A thoroughly dull and miserable day here in the west and I guess pretty generally along the route. I ventured out at lunchtime to meet a charming lady called Donna who works for the Eastern Daily Press. She'd been trying to track me down for sometime, but circumstances dictated otherwise until now. We discussed all sorts of subjects, but her main interest was this blog which may form the subject of a small article in the next week or so. The EDP has a very large readership within Norfolk and along its borders and I am told it is the only regional newspaper to outsell 'The Sun' in its catchment area. An impressive statistic indeed. I'm not sure the circulation will improve with any pictures of me, but there you are !

Me, doing my best to impersonate Harry Hill as 37564, still advertising 'The Little Fockers' passes by on Y7.  I think that picture will go down as a reject Bruce !
 Everything seemed to run quite smoothly today without any swaps and with sufficient resources to keep 37574 spare at Lynn today, with 37158 in use on locals. Y13 with 37157 was a bit late going to Peterborough at lunchtime and it failed to appear at Walpole on the 13.05 from Peterborough, so may be a bypass job ?

37564 is also the last Gemini to retain the AXA insurance ad, but not for much longer if this picture is anything to go by !


Friday 4th February 2011 ~ Why 'The Beast' ?

The first eastbound service from King's Lynn (K14) was 37565 this morning. It was due for attention at Lowestoft depot, so the return 08.55 to Peterborough came back with 20107. Why 'The Beast' was chosen is unclear, as at 09.55 Michael Bryant spotted 37156 spare near the bus station and this later worked the 13.08 X2 to Norwich. It is possible that this was regarded as a test run, as 156 had not worked since Monday. Later after servicing, 37565 was also out on the X2 being seen on the 14.38 from Lowestoft.
An accident on the Saddlebow roundabout at King's Lynn caused a few problems early on. 37564 was 15 late at Walsoken on K4 when Peter caught it and K1 seen by Neil with 37578 came into Lynn from Hardwick, rather than Nar Ouse Way six minutes late.
After this early blip, timekeeping was very good, both L8 (37568) and Y9 (37574) departed Wisbech for Peterborough fractionally early but well loaded. Later Peter once again got 37564 - still on K4 and unusually for a Friday, on time as the 17.35 ex Peterborough. This service was delayed near Guyhirn due to an accident and eventually negotiated the scene without losing too much time.
37575 is having a good run again at the moment. It has run over 273,000 miles now and has been out every day since January 3rd. In contrast, 37566 - the lowest mileage B9 - has now done 237,000.

A friend at Lynn tells me that from Sunday there are fare revisions on the X1 route. Details are :
Singles -

Current fares up to £4.00 (Excluding the £3.80 fare) - +10p
Current £3.80 fare - +20p
Current fares - £5.00 to £8.50 + 50p
Returns -
Current fare up to £4.70 - +10p
Current fare of £5.00 - No change
Current fare of £5.80 - +20p
Current fare of £6.00 - No chnage
Current fare of £8.50 - +50p
Current fare of £12.00 - Some increased +50p and some increased +£1.00
Network Tickets -
Daily - N/C £13.00
Daily Family 1+2 - N/C £15.00
Daily Family 2+2 - N/C £26.00
Weekly - +£1 to £28.00
Monthly - +£3 to £98.00
3 Monthly - +£30.00 to £280.00
Yearly - +£30.00 to £980.00
In my opinion, these changes are quite realistic and not in the least bit excessive, yet in some quarters are being vilified quite unneccessarily. I think the majority of the critics are obviously not car owners ! As there may be some readers who wonder where the X1 fits into the recent bus subsidies argument, well, it doesn't. The X1 service is not subsidised and operates without help from the taxpayer.

Thursday 3rd February 2011 ~ Deadspace

Deadspace is the title of today's blog, a) because lots of buses appeared with this nearside advert today and b) because today was pretty boring !
All low floor for a start which would please the operating team and thankfully no delays of note. All the branded B9 Geminis were out working complete turns, mind you it was a close run thing as 37573 had a slight argument with a lorry in Peterborough and came back with a lump out of the front valance. Nevertheless after checks were made it was pronounced Ok to continue. B7wise 37157 was on Y9 and 37158 on L12. 37160 was seen by Bruce sparkling in Vancouver Avenue after its MOT.
37565 had an unserviceable mirror today, so instead of working the first turn out of Yarmouth, it was used on Y13, the last to depart, after repairs.


Wednesday February 2nd 2011 ~ The Weakest Link

Once again today, K16 was missing from the schedules west of King's Lynn. 37158 was the bus and it was seen on the Southgates cam departing back to Lowestoft about 5 late. Whether it was coincidence or not is debatable, but 37571 on K17 (now there's a surprise NOT) was 2 minutes early from Wisbech on the 14.18 Peterborough - may be to placate any passengers who'd been hanging around for 30 minutes plus.
'The Beast' was unusually despatched from Lynn on K4 today, but the reason soon became apparent - she was swapped at Lowestoft for 37566. It was a bit of a swap shop all round today. Y6 with 37578 changed to 37574 for the 11.02 Lynn - Lowestoft, then K19 had 37576 taken off at 14.45 for 37578 to work forward.
On a day of little noteworthy, the billboard men were busy this evening stripping off adverts at Lynn, Yarmouth and Lowestoft. The latest ones are for films 'Paul', 'Gnomeo & Juliet' (groans all round) and 'Deadspace 2'. Speaking of dead space, the last month has seen a spate of X1 vehicles devoid of nearside ads revealing the route branding (37566/569/578) and likewise blank rears as in the case of 37567/572/575/578/579/157/159.
The new X1 timetable from March is still shrouded in secrecy and the latest VOSA announcements omit the X1, so we will have to wait another month for any detail it would seem.

Tuesday February 1st 2011 ~ Breakers Calling

Former X1 stalwart 20123 which moved to Yarmouth recently, has now been withdrawn and along with 20129 is expected to depart for the scrapyard at Erith shortly. This presumably means that those stored at King's Lynn Rowan Road will soon join them. 20121 is still shown as 'accident damage' following its December rear end shunt, but damage appears to be minimal. A coach which is still at work is 20107 and this was delayed today while working L12. It was noted departing Wisbech 19 late at 12.07 heading for Peterborough, however, by tonight it was back to time.
The use of 107 meant four Geminis were rested today, 37564 (Lowestoft servicing), 37576 (King's Lynn spare), 37156 (Lowestoft) and 37160 (MOT at King's Lynn). The broken down President we reported yesterday was still evident in Norwich bus station this morning and a good frost resulted in the warning below on 37568 ....


Monday January 31st 2011 ~ Please Mr. Postman.....

Today was my birthday and as a special treat, Bruce arranged for Y6 to be worked by 20107 (OK, so I made that bit up - well the bit about Bruce arranging it that is !). She was running about 5 late, so this enabled me to get a crafty picture whilst walking to work. Now I know this is a busy hour of the morning, but really ! Wouldn't you have thought that the postman would have delayed delivering for a moment and stood with me saluting the Beast ?

Obviously he just wasn't interested in this fine piece of machinery. It was never going to be a good pic of course, as the sun was behind the bus, but hey - at least there weren't any buildings on fire, which is quite good for Wisbech.
The appearance of 107 was the only exception to an all low floor service today. Most services ran fairly punctually and the worst noted was L11 with 37576 which passed my vantage point eleven minutes late. This may be explained by the fact that it had replaced 37570 at Lynn, after the latter was required for a safety service. Another swap occurred at the Lowestoft end, when 37564 on Y9 was changed for 37569.
Apart fron 37160 (MOT this week), all the B7s were in service.
Elsewhere it was not a good day for some. President 32210 was broken down at Norwich at 15.45 with a good crowd waiting for a replacement X2 and Paul sent in a picture kindly taken by Rob Freeman of Royale 34111 stranded near Halesworth, presumably after expiring on a Bernard Matthews contract.

Sunday 30th January 2011 ~ Dereham Delays

Today's 09.30 Yarmouth - Peterborough at Boskoop with 37565. You don't get a picture of 565 for ages, then three come along at once !
 Something pretty major has to occur to delay Sunday services due to the generally lighter traffic. Today was an example when a serious A47 accident occurred near Dereham around Midday. It later transpired that this had resulted in a fatality.
The 11.48 from Lowestoft with 37572 was 16 late into Lynn and the 12.48 with 37571 was 22 late at Walpole. Finally the 13.48, 37564, was 14 late at the same location. Subsequent services ran on time. The service was entirely B9 worked and all the B7s remained at King's Lynn.
37 156 & 37157 resting at King's Lynn this evening