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Wednesday 30th March 2011 ~ What The Papers Say ....

"Morning Gerard" said Bruce this morning, "Isn't it boring now ?". I guess this is just what the X1 operators want to hear and who can blame them ? I've been busy preparing for my forthcoming weekend event in Herefordshire, so the lull has come at just the right time for me.
Actually I'd expected to have been bombarded by reporters from the 'Daily Mail', 'Sun' and 'EDP' all wanting interviews with me about the withdrawal of 'The Beast' !
Imagine .........A 'First' spokesperson said "We are a global organisation with thousands of buses and we cannot possibly justify spending a few hundred quid on a clapped out old coach with no disabled access , just because 'Sun' and 'Mail' readers have a soft spot for it !
Janet Street-Porter responding to a member of the audience on 'Question Time' added her not inconsiderable voice to the protests, "The Gaavernmunt carnt let this baas which is laaved by millions of peerple seemply rot awaiy".
Vince Cable responded that the coalition had looked into the programme of cuts with a fine toothcomb and that there was simply no justification for keeping N607APU "which I believe is known as 'The Beast'" in service.
Mr Cameron speaking from the newly opened 'low floor' in the House of Commons added  "We are all in this together, it is going to be tough, but I have spoken with a 'First' representative and they have agreed to cut the X1 route into sections". "This follows recommendations from the Health & Safety Executive after concerns were expressed by drivers about the increasing number of passengers who were sliding off their seats and becoming trapped". The 'Toftwood Times' recently reported a case where an X1 passenger had over imbibed in the Millwrights Arms, boarded 37568 and was only discovered beneath the seat the worse for wear when the bus was being cleaned in King's Lynn garage, some eight hours after he joined the service.

Anyway, back to reality. 37573 had an interesting day. It replaced 37579 on K5 at 17.15 and after completion of the turn was called upon again to replace 37160 on Y13 21.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough.
37563 and 37158 were not in X1 use today. Malcolm says "I had a walk down to Lowestoft bus garage this afternoon. On the way I saw 37579 work K5 1355 service to Peterborough. At the garage were 20107, 43462, 32210, 32214 & 37563".

I'm away now until Monday, so expect an omnibus blog, if you'll pardon the pun, on Tuesday or thereabouts. Thanks to all our regulars. G

Tuesday 29th March 2011 ~ As Normal As It Can Be

The Geminis are making for a very incident free blog at the moment. I am away from Thursday until Monday, so please email me any reports as usual and I will blog on my return. 37158 and 37572 were spare at King's Lynn today and 37156 at Lowestoft.
Bruce phoned today that 20127 and 20131 had departed from Rowan Road and with the absence of any other blown up vehicles, Saddlebow Rowan Road was devoid of any buses whatsoever - a situation which has not arisen for several years ! More obituaries for the B10Ms to come when I get a minute.

37577 hasn't been seen in these columns for a while. Today it was photographed on K15 12.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough.


Monday 28th March 2011 ~ What Spare Buses ?

37567 basking in evening sunshine after arrival at King's Lynn on Y7 tonight. DS
Regular readers will be aware that these days there aren't simply spare buses and drivers waiting on every corner in case a bus breaks down. The X1 is a good example of this and whilst complete failures are very rare, this weekend has seen some important changes which may affect the service in the coming months. B10M coach 20107 is now withdrawn and sister 20121 has left King's Lynn, presumably for scrap. In addition Volvo bus 60863 which has so often in the past been Yarmouth's saviour as it has a calibrated tachograph, has this weekend been transferred to Norwich. So what exactly does this leave in the unofficial X1 reserve pool ? Well, according to my chart, just the two Yarmouth coaches, 20115 and 20126 plus Royale 34108. The latter has been noticeable by its absence so far this year and was last on X1 duty as far back as Novemer 24th. This may mean its tachograph will need recalibrating to allow it to reappear.
Credit where it is due though and today saw another completely Gemini operated day. Lowestoft seems to have its servicing requirements sorted at last. Today K4 had 37564 swapped for 37568 at Lowestoft and at Lynn L8 also saw a 'servicing' change take place with freshly treated 37570 coming off Lynn garage to replace 37572. The only Gemini not seeing X1 use today was 37160.
A late morning aberration on the timetable saw L10 just 2 late westbound from Wisbech on L10, but then L11 turned up 13 late with 37157 (it was 9 late coming back eastbound), then 37579 on L12 which passed me 3 minutes early !
Malcolm reports from Lowestoft "Rachel had 37566 on Y13 08.15 to Peterborough and she also saw 37568 in the bus station not in service. I saw 37578 work K14 08.55 to Peterborough, 37156 departed on K16 09.55 to Peterborough 20 minutes late - interestingly it was 1 minute early by Wisbech -  37576 was 15 minutes late arriving on K17 06.52 ex Kings Lynn and departed 8 minutes late on the 10.25 to Peterborough. Also seen this morning were 34156 on a 101 service to Hollow Grove and 34155 worked the 10.38 service x2 to Norwich, Dart 43450 worked a 101 service to Gunton".


Sunday 27th March 2011 ~ Oh No ! It's the Census

Like all good citizens, the X1 fleet were required to provide details (to the blog) of their whereabouts this morning. Here is the information, which of course is required by law !

King's Lynn
Spare : 37563, 37570, 37576, 37577, 37158, 37159, 37160.

Used on X1 : Internals 37574, 37575, 37578. On Yarmouth terminating turns : 37565, 37566, 37571

Spare : 37567.
On 07.30 X1 (finishes Lowestoft) : 37579
On 08.30 X1 : 37564, 09.30 X1 : 37156 (both ending King's Lynn).

Spare : 37568, 37569, 37572, 37157
On 09.48 to Peterborough : 37573.

There you go, 22 buses for just 10 diagrams on a Sunday and not a coach in sight. Peter says "Sorry to read about the Beast's likely demise - what about buying it for preservation? Any idea how much Worst Group would want for it?". Well whatever it was Peter, it's probably doubled after that last remark ! He's only joking folks.

Grahame Bessey says 'Thought you'd like this one of elephants queueing for fuel at Yarmouth Caister Road this afternoon. 37565 at the front had worked the 10.10 from Peterborough to Lowestoft, while 37156 was used in preference to 37567 on the X1 today.
20115 at Yarmouth garage today. It had done a drivers taxi trip to Norwich earlier. (Grahame Bessey)

With reference to the picture of 37565 above, Des says "Car line XL06 arrives Lowestoft at 14.30 then becomes the 15.10 route 1 departure to Martham, handing over to a Yarmouth local driver at 16.06 in Salisbury Road.It then stays out until 22.30 ! Don't know if it worked today then Des, but an interesting diagram certainly. Perhaps I'll have to pop over with my camera before the timetable ends.
Carl Cox occasionally emails me and says "Was waiting for the 13.48 departure from Lowestoft to Norwich (Peterborough) and was annoyed because the bus (37571) sat in the bus station with driver until finally loading and departing at 14.08". No idea why he adds, may be you can find out ?


Saturday 26th March 2011 ~ Illustrated Blog

37158 on K3 08.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft photographed at Norwich bus station today by Grahame Bessey
There will probably more than the usual number of photos in the blog in the coming week, as I will be rather busy leading up to next weekend when I am otherwise engaged with Test Cards, Films and the like.
Today was quite easy, as most things seemed to run smoothly and that means there is not a lot to say. 37568 was quickly despatched back to Lowestoft on the early eastbound run (K14) and 37157 replaced it - just as well really as there was nothing else ! All the B9 Geminis were in action for a change with 37156/7/8.
Des provides us with updated fuel charges as follows : Petrol - 131.9 @ Tesco Low, 129.9 @ Sains Central Norw, 130.9 @ Sains Easton and 132.9 @ Tesco Lynn.
King's Lynn buses were tonight plastered with ads for two new films 'Rio' and 'Your Highness'.

37569 has had its fan fixed now and was seen in Acle today by Grahame while working the 06.22 King's Lynn - Lowestoft (K16). It also retains the small font destination.
The weather was pretty dismal over in the west too as typified by the background to 37565 heading out of Walsoken on the 10.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft.


Friday 25th March 2011 ~ Writing On The Wall

The lingering death of the remaining B10Ms took a decisive turn today, 20104, 20105 and 20121 have all departed from Rowan Road at King's Lynn, presumably for scrap. Reasons for their withdrawal was suspension (20104), bodywork (20105) and accident damage (20121). It has to be said that from an external point of view, the damage to 20121 was minimal, however, the boot area is notorious on B10Ms for corrosion and it may have been worse than first appeared. Obituaries will appear here in due course. This just leaves the two Barbie liveried examples awaiting their certain fate.

Back at Lowestoft, more bad news. Syd updates us "I am sorry to say the repairs to 20107 have NOT been authorised, so its official withdrawal should be in the next few days". He continues "I have decided to finally retire from driving etc this weekend, after 41 years to the day working on the buses. My last part driving shift was on Service 102 driving 42446, 1745 from Carlton Colville on Mon 21st and I handed it over to James! At the time I didnt know it was to be the last journey of course as I didnt make the decision until this morning. I will though be able to update you on events at this end as always".
Well congratulations to Syd for an outstanding period of service. I've been doing my job for almost 35 years and will be quite happy if I can match his record.
The second entirely low floor week this year came to a close this evening with 37568 working Y13 18.48 Lowestoft to Peterborough. The intention had been to take it off at Lowestoft as it was due a safety service, but instead a special request has been made for the King's Lynn fitters to do it in the morning. Tut tut. 37569 is believed to have been in position to do the 18.48 but due to an oversight, 568 was allowed to leave westbound.
37578 and 37579 were both out of traffic at Lynn today for servicing requirements and 579 needs a new screen fitting. 37573 returned to service on K18 today after what must be one of the quickest MOTs ever.
Bruce reports that there didn't seem to be any major delays today.

37575 heads towards Walsoken working K17 10.25 from Lowestoft. This turn is normally 37571, but after an early morning service, this did K5 instead.

37156 has not been the most common performer of late. It had just arrived in King's Lynn on L11 when this picture was taken. The forthcoming new timetable may see the B7s restricted to the eastern end of the service.
The relieving driver fills in his paperwork at King's Lynn before departing with 37570 (with revised destination font ) on the 21.35 to Lowestoft this evening.

Thursday 24th March 2011 ~ Nice Day For It

Wow - a whole week has passed with a low floor service - possibly some kind of record, I will have to look back at the stats. Weather was beautiful today and buses seem to have slipped on timings a bit, possibly due to more leisure traffic. Several seen during the morning were up to 10 minutes late, whereas yesterday most ran to time. I had to go to Milton Keynes for a funeral this afternoon and as I left work at 12.23, heard a terrific racket which to my surprise turned out to be 37572 passing through eastbound on L10, its fan having clearly gone the same way as many before it. Just before I reached MK, I passed a service to Cambridge with a very inviting looking B12 Paragon coach belonging to Stagecoach, no low floors there ! I also saw my first butterfly of the year, a Brimstone, but that doesn't really belong in this blog :+0
An unusual swap occurred this morning when Y13 07.30 Yarmouth to Lowestoft with 37567 was changed on arrival for 37157 to work the 08.15 to Peterborough. Rachel saw 37567 awaiting transfer to the depot, but there was apparently no rush as it was still there an hour or so later.
Yesterday 37577 appeared in service with revised destination display, so what exactly is going on ??? Richard A explains : "When a new route or destination is required for any bus with the latest destination equipment (called Hanover), the information is programmed into a computer then each bus is updated individually. This process only takes a few seconds using a lead which is plugged in to the bus. Often this is done by an official at Norwich, in between runs or whilst at Norwich bus station.
At the moment, most of the fleet is being updated due to the changes to timetables/routes over the next few weeks. A side effect of this is often the change of font style or size. It just depends on the way it has been programmed in centrally".
Ah, thanks Richard, so no fiendish plan then after all.

Wednesday 23rd March 2011 ~ Last Rites for 'The Beast' ?

King's Lynn with 37564 departing on K2 09.02 to Lowestoft, on the right 37574 is loading as L8 09.50 to Peterborough. Picture by Des Speed.
Syd says "Bad new for 20107 it seems. Before the required welding took place it was decided to bring forward the MOT pre-check to ensure the effort was worthwhile. The fault list is extensive and expensive and the future looks very bleak for her. Whilst a decision on withdrawal has not been made I very much doubt if another passenger will be getting on board. I will keep you informed of how the situation develops. Sorry to have to be the one to inform you of such bad tidings". Oh Dear ! Poor old Beast - I wonder how many miles the old girl has amassed ? Certainly seems as though we have seen the last of her hereabouts.
If, as expected, it does turn out to be terminal, I will do a history on her in a couple of weeks. If anyone has pictures or info on 20107 prior to the last couple of years, by all means email them to me for possible inclusion.
Today the all low floor service continued successfully. 37573 it turns out was stopped for MOT work last night and it was 37158 that took over. Today the B7 came back on Y9. L10 was 37156 which seemed to be growling when it passed me, but it is well known for its unusual noises. 37157 went to Lowestoft on K18 this morning, Malcolm says "37569 arrived empty from Lowestoft garage and 37157 arrived on the 0651 from Wisbech. This then went empty down the garage and 37569 took over the 1055 service to Peterborough".

The last batch of T side adverts fitted to the X1 fleet on 14th March saw all but 37567/71/72 receive new ads. Of these all had the 'Source Code' fitted except 37575 (seen here) and 37160 which as can be seen are 'Limitless'. This was 37575 arriving at King's Lynn railway station while working K3 08.05 Peterborough to Lowestoft today. DS


Tuesday 22nd March 2011 ~ Another One Bites The Dust

Someone at Lowestoft has obviously set themselves a target to eliminate the remaining narrow font destinations on the B9s. Today I glimpsed 37564 heading to Peterborough on L11 and was pretty certain that in common with 37570 (see yesterday's blog), it too had been reset to the large display. I decided to get a picture on its return, in the hope that the display would capture and I could post the result here. Turned out 37564 has indeed been altered as you can see here :
I don't know why, but I failed to notice until I was looking at the picture later that it was Mr. Speed driving and he didn't spot me either !
It remains to be seen whether the remaining B9s with narrow font displays will follow suit, but the odd one out is 37579 which began life with the large display and then, after a trip to Volvo for attention, emerged with the narrow font.
It was a good day for X1 travellers today - everything was near enough on time and the whole service low floor. 37569 passed me on K14 and I'm pretty certain it has had its noisy fan fixed at long last.
There were temporary traffic lights causing tailbacks in Dereham today at the Neatherd Road/Wellington Road junction. Some enterprising drivers took an alternative route out of Dereham via Dereham Road & Draytonhall Lane to miss the congestion. The same applied going east with a different route used via  London Road & High Street to avoid the delays.
37573 was taken off K18 this afternoon for some unscheduled reason and the absence of 37158 appears to indicate that it was the bus which worked forward.

Monday 21st March 2011 ~ A Trick Of The Light

I was otherwise engaged today, but thanks to Bruce and Des for completing a full log of X1 diagrams. The only swap was 37579 which came into King's Lynn on Y7 06.10 from Yarmouth and was taken off and replaced by 37159. This was so that minor repairs involving adblue, injectors and the like could be carried out. The service was all low floor today and buses mostly ran according to the timetable. 37570 was L10 today and tonight I passed it on the 21.10 from Peterborough heading towards its destination, King's Lynn. When I saw it approaching, I thought it had been swapped because 570 has the narrow font destination and the bus coming towards me had the larger variety. Not so, 37570 had its font changed whilst at Lowestoft yesterday and this now leaves just four with the narrow typeface.
Malcolm and Michael both spotted 37566 working the 15.08 Lowestoft to Norwich X2 this afternoon, while at Lynn, 37158 was serviced. Malcolm confirms that 'The Beast' is still parked up at Lowestoft depot.

Passengers ! Dontcha hate 'em ? Well sometimes anyway. 37160 working L12 12.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft had to have the Norwich cleaners alerted at Dereham this afternoon. On arrival at Norwich they set to work on the unpleasant task of cleaning the top deck, after a sleeping bladdered passenger not wearing a nappy had deposited his lager all over a seat and the floor. The bus was temporarily taken out of service while this took place, but was able to resume eventually.
Des says "Today a passenger boarded at Peterborough with a return train ticket bought just minutes before at the rail station - Cost £7.00. The return price on the bus is £9.00. Train Line doesn't offer a return at £7.00, so it must be an off peak special or something ?"

Sunday 20th March 2011 ~ Glowing Praise

Not a lot to report today. My friend John arrived from London and on arrival at Peterborough, boarded the 12.10 X1 to Wisbech. This was 37564 which departed bang on time, arriving at Wisbech just a minute or so late. The driver was very polite says John and a credit to the service.
 Later we popped out for a drink after a lot of hard work for the forthcoming Test Card Circle Convention - yes you did read that right ! King's Lynn garage contained all the B7s bar 37160. For the record, 37156 returned to X1 use yesterday when it worked L11. Its last appearance had been prior to its MOT on 28th February.
37570 photographed coming in to Walton Highway on K16 yesterday and being pursued by a Norfolk Green local. Today 37565/6/70 & 37160 were all spare at Lowestoft.


Saturday 19th March 2011 ~ In Sickness and In Health

Today 37576 had a bad morning, it had only just completed its first duty, K15 06.02 King's Lynn to Lowestoft when it had to be temporarily removed from traffic for emergency cleaning, a passenger having taken a turn for the worse. 576 was soon back though and when seen passing Wisbech on the 14.05 from Peterborough, was only 2 minutes behind time. The low floor service continued today and the absent Geminis were 37566 at Lowestoft (spare) and 37158/9 at King's Lynn. See,  22 buses for 19 diagrams does work (sometimes).
Very impressive punctuality was once again the order of the day, apart from 576s ordeal which saw it leave Lowestoft 20 late, so drinks all round I'd say - unless you are a driver naturally.
37565 departs Lowestoft on K14 08.55 to Peterborough. DS
A sad sight at Lowestoft Gasworks Road and 'The Beast' appears to be saying that it is 'SO sorry not to be in service'. You'd think they'd preserve her dignity and close the door !
37566 is rested while 37576 undergoes cleaning at Lowestoft today. DS

Friday March 18th 2011 ~ Farewell Old Faithfuls

Bruce made his weekly trip to view Rowan Road compound this morning. To his dismay he discovered that two of the withdrawn B10Ms, 20106 and 20118 had departed for - presumably - a scrapyard, most likely the one at Erith in Kent, as this seems to be the preferred option for First Eastern vehicles.
Here are some reminders of better days for them......

Here is 20106 - never an X1 regular until its last year in service, photographed approaching Walton Highway on February 3rd 2008. It was working the Sunday 08.40 Yarmouth to Peterborough having recently been reinstated to traffic. At one time it was allocated to the shortlived rail replacement pool. More recently it had been stored at Rowan Road  minus its engine.

20118 was a long time Norwich vehicle. Here it is seen on its first ever day on the X1,  October 29th 2007 working the 14.18 Peterborough to Lowestoft near Faulkner's Tunnel. Considering 118s poor reputation for pulling away from junctions, it was a wonder it lasted as long as it did, it being withdrawn in the Summer of 2010. 

Here are both coaches photographed together at Rowan Road after relegation to working the Hunstanton schools contracts on October 4th 2009.
X1 work was still sometimes to be had though and final appearances on the service were on 11/12/09 for 20106 and 25/6/10 for 20118. Photo by kind permission of Peter Barclay.
 As if in mourning for the two departed coaches, 20126 was not used today and a full low floor service was the consequence. Even when the noisy 37569 had to be taken off L10 at King's Lynn this morning, apparently overheating, 37158 was there to step in the breach.
Friday timekeeping is of course notorious for its laxity, but today was exceptional.  37571 back on K17 even managed to be two minutes early from Wisbech on the 14.18 to Peterborough.

Now then if you click on the following link, you will find something else exceptional. Mr. Speed has produced an X1 mileage chart. Well done that man !


Thursday March 17th 2011 ~ Mind The Doors Please

The prodigal bus, 37156 at last returned to traffic today. It was sighted by Michael Bryant on the 10.38 X2 from Lowestoft. The other four B7s were all on the X1, giving a more comfortable, if somewhat slower ride than the B9s.

20126 about to replace 37565 for the 08.55 Lowestoft to Peterborough today. DS
 The recent good punctuality was maintained today with 8 minutes being the maximum lateness recorded by a Gemini. There was an exception though, as K14 which started with 37565 on the 05.37 King's Lynn to Lowestoft, saw this taken out for servicing and Des, (for twas he), was given 20126 to bring back west on the 08.55 to Peterborough. Arriving off a schools turn, 20126 was 10 late departing Lowestoft, but on time by Norwich.
Things went OK until his relieving driver left King's Lynn and was unable to shut the entrance door. A 10 minute delay ensued before it was fixed and when I saw 20126 it was 13 late from Wisbech, but only 6 late on the way back.The fans on 20126 are making a mighty roaring noise at the moment and this reminded me of how 20107 got its name 'The Beast', as at one time it too had this affliction.
Des also provides a petrol price update : 132.9 - Low Tesco ; 129.9 - Nor Sains (Queens Road) ; 130.9 - Easton Sains ; 133.9 - Lynn Tesco.
A number of B9s are having Adblue problems at the moment and 37574/7 are amongst these. 37567 of Lowestoft spent another day at Lynn garage having its Adblue sorted out today, while 37572 passed its MOT.

Wednesday 16th March 2011 ~ Bus Halts Norwich

There was major disruption in Norwich this morrning, when a bus broke down on the yellow traffic box coming out of St Stephens Street, bringing traffic to at a standstill around St Stephens Street, Chapelfield Road and Grapes Hill. To set the record straight, it was not a 'First' vehicle, but it did cause chaos for two hours from 07.30. Eastbound X1 services arriving at Lowestoft from 09.10 (K15, K16 & K17) were all delayed by about 30 minutes. Surprisingly there were no vehicle swaps as a result.
20126 was used on K14 today, but 37567 which may otherwise have done this turn, was off the road with an adblue problem and stayed in Vancouver Avenue all day.
 Here in the west, the timetable was pretty accurately portrayed and a maximum delay of 7 minutes was the worst recorded in the day. It was interesting to see the progress of 37569 on the 12.35 from Peterborough - going west it had passed me 7 late, coming back it was late into Lynn due to more Wisbech temporary lights and departed with Des at 14.08 (6 late), By Swaffham it was 5 late, but at Dereham had regained all the lost time.
Michael Bryant phoned to say that a King's Lynn B7, 37159, had unusually appeared on the X2, working the 10.38 & 13.38 services out of Lowestoft. 37563 off servicing took the place of 37159 on L11.


Tuesday 15th March 2011 ~ Invisible Buses

Now it goes without saying that with me actually having to do some work for a living, it is impossible for me to view every X1 in the working day. That said, it is disappointing to add that there are occasions (increasingly frequent), where services to Peterborough from Wisbech do not run. This is explained by the fact that the missing buses do a bypass job and run direct from Lynn to Peterborough empty, in order to resume their diagram there. This situation is inevitably caused by delays earlier in the journey, but doesn't help passengers waiting at Wisbech and other locations affected. The corresponding eastbound services always seem to appear compounding my theory.
Today the missing service was K16 13.15 ex Lynn which failed to appear (unless I was asleep), but then turned up just 2 late on the 14.35 from Peterborough with 37159.
At King's Lynn, 37566 may have been unwell at the start of the day, because 37575 started on K4 but came off at 10.00 and was replaced by the aforementioned 566 for the 10.02 to Lowestoft. Coach 20126 was once again sent out by Lowestoft, this time on L10. New adverts for the film 'Source Code' were fitted to Geminis last night and one or two have an alternative ad for another film, 'Limitless'.
Punctuality began well, but dipped in the middle of the day. First Peterborough bound service delayed from Wisbech was the 11.18 with 37160 (L11) which was 8 late, L12 followed with 37578 6 late, then things worsened with Y13 turning up 15 late with B7 37158. K14 was 14 late with 'roadsweeper' 37569 but after this normal times resumed.
At the other end there was another maintenance swap. Malcolm says "Rachel had 37158 on Y13 08.15 to Peterborough this morning. I saw 37577 work K17, the 10.25 service and 37563 arrived on K18 06.51 from Wisbech but was replaced in the bus station by 37564 on the 10.55 service to Peterborough. 37563 went out not in service, to the garage. I went down to the bus garage this afternoon and on my way I saw 37573 working K5 13.55 to Peterborough. At the rear of the garage were the Beast, 37156 and 32214. There were also Darts 42447 and 43462 which have been there for a few weeks now.
Back at the bus station I saw 37157 work Y6 14.25 service to Peterborough, 37568 arrived on Y7 10.05 service from Peterborough and 33154 arrived on the 13.08 from Norwich X2 service. 42448 worked the 14.38 X2 to Beccles".
Paul had a day out today and reports "I used a day network ticket for £13 and had a excellent day out -even saw Bruce in his garden at 1520 as we were heading Lowestoft bound on 37569.

I had L11 from Lowestoft-Kings Lynn 37160, L12 from Kings Lynn-Peterboro 37578, K14 13.35 from Peterboro- Lowestoft 37569 [it left Peterboro at 1350hrs}".
The starter motor on 37160 which has been a cause for concern for some weeks, finally gave up the ghost tonight and a replacement was fitted.


Monday March 14th 2011 ~ Didn't We Have A Lovely Time....

...................the day we went to Bangor", so says the song, but in fact it was Brighton which your bloggers headed to today, leaving the X1 to the powers that be.
37571 before departure from Great Yarmouth Market Gates with the first westbound service of the day Y6 05.50 to Peterborough. Picture : Des Speed
We did see some services early on of course and here are a few pictures to prove it. Bruce and myself met Des Speed at King's Lynn railway station and I managed to test out my camera in the bright conditions ....

37564 calls at King's Lynn rail station working  K1 07.00 Peterborough - Lowestoft

37565 is about to emerge from Portland Street and call at King's Lynn railway station on Y7 06.10 from Yarmouth (the 08.45 from King's Lynn) to Peterborough.

Once on board the 08.59 train to London, the X1 receded from our minds a little and we enjoyed our trip to the South Coast. After meeting up with our friend Tony at King's Cross, we carried on to Brighton for lunch in Wetherspoons and a walk down the pier, plus plenty of bus photography.

Tony, Bruce and Des posing in front of Brighton Pier
As can be seen here, there was no shortage of buses to photograph in Brighton
Meanwhile, back in East Anglia, Andy James was about to see the only coach working of the day, 20126 on K14, here is his picture taken at lunchtime.

Malcolm also enjoyed a day out today and decided to do the X1 to Wisbech. He says "I really enjoyed my day out on the X1 and in Wisbech. Rachel had 37579 on the 0815 X1 (Y13) this morning and I saw it twice myself. Firstly on the 1305 service from Peterborough and again in Hopton-on-Sea on the 1848 to Peterborough. I saw most of the Gemini’s today, the only ones I didn’t see were, 37156, 37563 and 37575. There was a Gemini in Kings Lynn garage but unfortunately I don’t know which one. I had 37573 on K17 1025 ex Lowestoft and returning on K16 1526 ex Wisbech to Lowestoft I had 37160".
I can confirm that 37575 was the Gemini seen by Malcolm in King's Lynn garage, 37572 was also in the area on MOT prep. 37563 was the one Malcolm missed, it did L12. There was one swap today for servicing requirements, 37564 did the first part of K1 and then did the 15.08 X2 to Norwich with 37157 taking over on the 11.55 X1 to Peterborough.

Sunday March 13th 2011 ~ Gordon Bennett

As you may have heard, the East Anglian electrical firm Bennetts has gone into liquidation. A bit unfortunate then that 37160 & 37563 still sport rear adverts advising us of their new King's Lynn branch. Let's hope the employees secure themselves a future.

Yesterday's unusual diagramming had some fall out today with the first two turns off Yarmouth getting B7s, 37157 & 37158. Timekeeping this morning was quite poor for a Sunday.
Here's 20126 keeping MOT candidate  37572 company at King's Lynn tonight.


Saturday 12th March 2011 ~ Like For Like

This driver is a well known face on the X1 and he's probably done more miles than the 243,000 amassed by 37566. As the lowest mileage B9 (with the exception of 37571 which spent 17 months out of service)  , 566 has now recorded 41k less than the most travelled example, 37575.  37566 was photographed on K14 leaving Walton Highway today.
Lowestoft sent back boomerang B10M 20115 on L11 today - it was certainly on the turn when seen arriving in Wisbech 12 late at lunchtime. During the afternoon though, an unusual swap took place , I would guess at Yarmouth, when 20115 was replaced, not by a Gemini, but by 20126.
Although I wasn't about this morning, this afternoon timekeeping seemed very inconsistent. 37577 on L12 , making more noise than a Gemini should, was just 2 late returning from Peterborough. K16 with 37567 turned up 9 late going west and later K1 with 37158 was 16 late from Wisbech, but due to some smart working was dead on time through Walpole Highway on its way back at 17.36.
For some reason there were some very unorthodox vehicle allocations out of King's Lynn this morning. As I mentioned, 37158 was K1 - the first B7 to start this turn since the same bus did so on October 16th last. K3 and K5 which are both normally solid Lynn buses had 37568 & 37565 respectively. This was also noteworthy as this was the first time a Lowestoft bus has worked a Lynn internal diagram this year. For the record this hadn't happened since 22nd December, so to get two in one day was very strange.
37575 was taken off Y6 at Lynn at 17.40 with a driver's seat fault and 37570 which came in on the 18.07 arrival (Y7) worked forward to Peterborough after some delay. 37570 had made up all but 3 minutes on the return journey. 37159 was sidelined at Lynn with a roll bar defect and 37572 (below) was stopped for MOT preparation, which might partially explain the unusual workings.
Syd says  " A quick update on 20107’s status.  It was found to require some more welding at the last safety service, this should be carried out shortly although it is approaching its next MOT and things dont look to good for it." Well only to be expected I suppose, with the colossal amount of work 20107 has done. Let's hope she has one final fling though.


Friday 11th March 2011 ~ Blown Away

As I reported yesterday, 37563 lost its T side ad in the high winds - it was K2 this morning, see picture above -  and it was not alone, for 37159 appeared in a similar state today on K5. The broken ads were binned as can be seen below !

Similar delays to yesterday were down to the Wisbech resurfacing . Being a Friday, this worsened at lunchtiime, 37160 on K14 was 15 late as was 37579 on K15. 20115 was K16 and was only 2 late before it hit the roadworks, it was 10 late returning so didn't fare too badly. K17 was seen 13 late with 37576 and lost a further minute before it was seen going east. K18 (37570) was only 4 late, but K1 was back to 15 late on the 15.48 to Peterborough with 37564. The temporary lights were removed at about 16.00 and services reverted to normal time.
37578 returned from Volvo to King's Lynn today and Malcolm saw 37569 which was not in X1 use, near Lowestoft railway station. No sign of The Beast or 37156 again.
There was some swapping going on this morning at King's Lynn. To begin with 37567 on L12 arrived at 11.07 and was promptly turned round to do Y7 11.32 to Lowestoft. L12 continued to Peterborough with 37572 which had been sent from Vancouver Avenue and the bus which had come in on Y7, 37157 was taken out of service for some reason unknown. This afternoon 37157 did a College of West Anglia contract and then retired to Rowan Road compound.
Grahame says "A couple of sightings from Friday evening, an unidentified elephant (37569 ?) was noted on the 1 Martham-Lowestoft route at Hopton around 18.45, Olympian 34112 then noted on X1 coming from Lowestoft showing Yarmouth on destination heading into the JP Hospital around 5 mins later. Further to Des note re 37566 on the 8a on Thursday morning, I can confirm it did work the route before being swapped later in the morning". Thanks for those bits Grahame and indeed to all our regular correspondents.
Bruce had a trip to Lynn on 37160 today and was full of praise for the B7 ! Pleasant seats and a comfortable journey apparently. He was not so glowing in his reference for the highest mileage B9, 37575, which he endured on K4. "The noises from it are quite alarming and the smell of burning rubber which became more apparent as the journey progressed, are surely not a good sign ? Needless to say the seats were as uncomfortable as ever".


Thursday 10th March 2011 ~ Windy Diversions

Now that the warranty period on the B9s has expired, visits to Volvo may become more common. Today 37578 was taken to Norwich for brake caliper repairs to be evaluated. 37563 had an eventful day, it was pulled up at Thorney this afternoon during today's high winds after the T side advert became detached. It was attended by fitters and was later able to continue on Y13. This evening though it was involved in  a diversion after an accident near Acle and Y13 due at King's Lynn at 21.42 and K15 an hour behind it, both arrived at Lynn around 23.00. King's Lynn supplied 37160 which had earlier come in on K5 to do the 21.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough..
37568 started the day on K1 but was taken off at Lowestoft and replaced by 37157. Syd writes "Just when you think the B9s have been everywhere possible that they can get, another first has transpired.  Lowestoft runs an evening Contract every Thursday for John Turner House, to take mentally handicapped people to and from a social club. This has been operated since Waveney District Council was absorbed in 1977 without a break. This Thursday, the allocated Olympian ( usually one of 34155-8 are currently used ) had a problem so 32213 was substituted. This then refused to start and the ONLY other bus available was 37568. As the driver had a Digital Tacho, so the system could be maintained, it was reluctantly decided to let it do the Contract. Another first for a White Elephant".
The X2 had Trident 33154 out again today when it worked the 11.10 from Norwich. Michael Bryant reports President 32212 back out of use at Lowestoft (it has spent a lot of time in this state) and 32213 under maintenance. More disturbingly, he reports 20107 sidelined here for the last three days.
Blondie was sighted driving K2 this morning, spot on time at Walpole at 08.31 with the ever noisier 37569 and later she was on 37574 on K18, 7 late to Peterborough on the 14.48 from Wisbech but only a minute in arrears returning.
Resurfacing on Lynn Road in Wisbech added time to most services today, about 6 minutes being the average lateness. Things were particularly bad at teatime with 37157 being sighted by Bruce on K1 negotiating the speed bumps on Norwich Road in Walsoken to avoid the roadworks. It was 15 late leaving on the 15.48 to Peterborough.
Coach 20115 worked L12 all day and 37571 had a rare day off for maintenance, seen below at King's Lynn garage this evening.


Wednesday 9th March 2011 ~ All Hands On Deck

You never know with the X1 - you simply never know. What looks to be down as a straightforward sort of day can change in a matter of minutes. This morning, for example, with 37566 & 37570 predicted for the first two westbound turns from Great Yarmouth, everything seemed fine, however, the message then came through that 37566 was required at Lowestoft for servicing. Normally, 566 would have done the first part of Y6 before being changed at Lowestoft, but urgency seemed to be the order of the day and instead 20115 was substituted on Y6 while Des reports 37566 departing Yarmouth garage at 09.21 with '8a Caister' on the destination screen !
I was chatting away to Bruce at 08.35 expecting to see the usual Gemini appear , but instead 20115 came looming up in the mirror. As a matter of respect, I jumped out of the car and took this picture :
The rather unfortunately positioned roadworks board was indicating some temporary lights installed just beyond Bruce's farm. These were in operation for a couple of hours while stolen manhole covers were replaced - TGBs no doubt ?
Richard A says "Saw you out with your camera this morning, I was passenger on 20115 as it went past you on the way into Peterborough", he continues "Just to confirm, bus 34110 WAS the last Volvo Olympian built (certainly for uk and maybe world market). There was an article about it in a BUSES Focus magazine some time back". Thanks to all of you who responded on this one. Sam was first off the mark. Check out the comments for a more detailed explanation.
Anyway, back to this morning and having seen Y6 we continued chatting and were discussing the non-appearance of K2. This is due off Walpole at 08.31 and it was now 10 minutes after this with no sign of it. I carried on to work at this point and still didn't pass it, nor was it in the Horsefair.
Marcus comes to our aid here and says "37572, operating the 0744 P’boro- Lowestoft, was parked up in a lay-by between Eye and Thorney with a broken windscreen. Driver was waiting to transfer passengers to the following journey".  Ah, so all is explained. I then saw K3 - most unusually with 37571 - at the Clarkson Memorial / Town Bridge traffic lights, running 9 late with a double compliment of passengers.
As if all this wasn't enough, 37570 on Y7 was turned round at Lynn to work back east as K2 to Lowestoft vice 37572 at 09.02. This left no vehicle for Y7 08.45 to Peterborough. 37578 should have been available, but this suffered vandalism while working K19 last night with a rock smashing one of the lower deck nearside windows in the Norwich area. 578 dropped its one remaining passenger at Little Fransham and then proceeded empty to King's Lynn.
Back to Y7 then and with 37577 still undergoing repairs, the cupboard was bare as Jim Murray would have said. This meant Scania 65532 was borrowed to fill the breach and to prove it, here is a picture taken by Bruce. It was on time going west, but 15 late returning for some reason.

At this point, King's Lynn garage main man Richard Tucker would probably have been glad he had chosen this week to be on holiday - and to think I thought he never took any time off !
Some pretty swift movements then took place to get 37572's windscreen fixed, so that it was back at Lynn nicely in time to relieve 65532 on Y7, the Gemini working forward at 11.32 to Lowestoft. All things considered, 'First' should be congratulated for the smooth way they reacted to this unexpected situation.
More temporary lights on Lynn Road in Wisbech were adding up to 10 minutes to the schedules today. That was until 37159 on K16 passed through 16 late on the 13.48 Wisbech to Peterborough. It had made up 3 minutes of this loss on its return.
I had a text this evening announcing '37574 at Clarkson Memorial lights at 17.05 heading into town'. This was K19 running 15 late, but the surprising thing was that this text was sent by my boss, Martin ! Whatever next ?
Well prior to this, K18 had been noticeable by its absence. It must have been in excess of 11 late from Wisbech on the 14.48 Peterborough, but at least it worked through unscathed unlike yesterday's escapade on K16. The late running meant it came back light as shown in this picture taken by Rob Brooks near Eye Green.

The day finished with one of those good news / bad news scenarios. 37577 was at last fixed and should be back on the road tomorrow, but at the same time 37578 has had a brake fault spotted during a scheduled service and may have to visit Volvo for repairs.
Des points out that the X1 shuttles continue to provide a variety of bus types, some never seen on the mainstream X1. Here are a couple of today's performers - one of which is especially for Bruce !


Tuesday 8th March 2011 ~ Under My Nose !

Thanks to all my regular correspondents, old and new who continue to provide sightings - some on a daily basis.  My brother-in-law has become a regular spotter of K1 on his way to work and today saw 37566 on same. Cheryl - my work colleague - sent in a sighting from Blofield at the weekend which I failed to include, "I thought you'd have mentioned it" she said "Considering how far away from Wisbech I was".
I had a bit of a surprise this morning when Y6 05.50 from Great Yarmouth was marginally early at Walpole and on time at Walton Highway (don't forget, we are using the timetable of impossibility here which allows two minutes between Walpole and Walton Highways, impossible unless you are travelling by rocket that is !). Nevertheless 37564 it was that had a remarkably impediment free journey into Wisbech where it arrived a minute early. The old analogy with rocking horse manure springs to mind. Following on from my blog of February 5th, 37564 has had its rear ad for car insurance, replaced by another, also for car insurance (above).
The Wisbech roadworks reared their ugly head again today as the local authorities decided that now would be a good time to resurface the B198. To be fair, this work comes at what is quite possibly the least busy time of year, so credit where it is due. This did mean, however, that X1 delays were increased. L10 with 37573 due off Wisbech at 10.48 was the first service to be held up. It passed me 15 late and following westbound services seen were L11 with 37571 (yes really) 9 late, L12 37579 9 late, Y13 37157 just 3 late and then just before my lunch, K14 which was 7 late with 37565. The next service, K15, I saw in a lengthy queue on Lynn Road with 37574.
K16 was not seen (I was having my sandwich), but strangely neither was it seen returning. All was explained later though, when a friend told me that K16 with 37158 had managed to reach the Wisbech Town Bridge traffic lights on the 1435 from Peterborough, where a lorry turning left had swung out and hit the B7s wing mirror, windscreen and nearside front. The bus driver stopped, but (this being Wisbech) the lorry driver continued, apparently oblivious ! Now first thing to say here is that I'm amazed that this has not happened before, such is the crazy nature of the road markings and secondly I was a few yards away from the incident and missed it all. The junction is actually just out of view of my vantage point. Finally, I now understand why some X1 drivers straddle both lanes here to prevent such an occurrence. Tonight the damage to 37158 was being repaired at King's Lynn garage - note the lack of mirror in the photo below.


This then left King's Lynn with the dilemma to provide a vehicle for the 16.02 to Lowestoft, but fortunately 37576 was completed from repairs in time to work K16 forward. For the second day in a row, all seven Lowestoft allocated B9s were out in service.
Des says "PETROL INCREASED TODAY - 129.9 - Tesco Low ; 129.9 - Sains Easton ; 130.9 - Tesco Lynn". I see we get the short straw at Lynn again !
Macolm writes " Rachel had 37157 on the 08.15 service to Peterborough, (and with our own Mr. Speed driving too).  I saw 37563 work Y7 14.55 service to Kings Lynn, 34158 arrived on the 13.38 X2 from Norwich, 33154 worked the 15.08 X2 service to Norwich and 37160 worked L8 15.25 service to Peterborough.
Jamie R had the pleasure of 37160 on L8 departing Peterborough at 20.10 and disembarking at Wisbech on time. Apparently the heaters were working too.


Monday 7th March 2011 ~ The Learning Curve Continues

More fun with my camera today and it is beginning to show what it can do. On the X1, it was an entirely low floor day. 37572 had its first day off since 4th January in order to have its CCTV looked at and also under scrutiny by the Volvo engineer at King's Lynn was 37577 which needs a manifold gasket. 37156 continues to be seen in Yarmouth and Lowestoft, but not acually doing anything, so I think it must be an MOT candidate. Somehow 37158 and 37571 found themselves on the wrong turns this afternoon, 571 should have been on K17 as usual, but Bruce noted it on K16, while the B7 worked K17.
Des says "I had 34110 on the 08.52 Yarmouth - Norwich & 09.40 return,  I was told by one of the drivers in the Yarmouth  canteen that 34110 is a bit special, the last Olympian produced. Can you shed any light on this?". Hmm, well I think I've heard this before, but maybe someone can confirm or otherwise for us. ":Later I had B10M 20115 on the 17.10 Norwich to Gorleston, then light back to the depot, hope you like the photos taken at Broadland Business Park and Postwick."


Rob Brooks also had his camera out today and captured 37575 on the road near Eye. It was working K19
and below is my effort from this morning, 37579 on K2.

As you can see, the weather was glorious for much of the day. Malcolm writes "Sightings today were Dart 42448 working the 1438 X2 service to Beccles, 37570 worked Y7 1455 X1 to Kings Lynn, 37563 was on L8 1525 X1 to Peterborough & 37578 worked Y9 1555 to Kings Lynn". Timekeeping was pretty good, but 37565 on Y13 had lost 14 minutes by the time it reached Wisbech on the 13.05 from Peterborough and sister 37566 was also behind time on L10, being seen by Bruce on the A47 bypass heading to Peterborough after an unspecified delay.


Sunday March 6th 2011 ~ Camera Shy

Yes camera shy. Not the X1 buses, but me I mean. Whilst in Carlisle on Wednesday I managed to drop my Kodak camera and render it unusable. This might sound like a disaster, but when I told Cheryl she cheered ! This was because she's had months of me moaning about its limited capabilities and was foremost in persuading me to call it a day and buy a new one. In the month that I've had a £870 dentist bill, the timing could have been better though.
My new camera arrived yesterday. It is a Canon Powershot S95. I did have a Canon before, but managed to lose that one on a stag weekend in York. May be I should just leave my camera at home when I travel north ? Today I decided to test it out in the local vicinity and see if it was up to the task of freezing moving buses. The experts seem to think only a SLR will do this successfully, but paying another grand on top of the £300 didn't appeal to me with my record of writing off cameras. Here are the results (with apologies for the large number of pictures).

As with all the blog pictures, you can click them to enlarge. At this size, this doesn't look too bad, but when enlarging it becomes apparent that the detail - things like the registration plate etc - is far from clear. I had half expected this, as this was taken in the 'kids and pets' auto mode at F5.6 and 1/250 second with an ISO speed of 125. Clearly this wasn't going to be adequate as 37573 was hardly rushing along on the 10.10 from Peterborough, athough the shot was taken from behind the car windscreen.

My next effort involved 37579 and was a bit more encouraging. At least the exposure was clearer taken at F8, 1/400,  iso 320. Still not crisp enough for me though. Of course weather conditions have a direct impact on the amount of light available and at this point it was quite dull.

Oh Dear ! Going the other way at this time was 37569 on the 11.10 from Peterborough. The clarity - or lack of it - here, could be due to camera shake. It was certainly not due to it surprising me, as you could hear 569 coming from quite a distance. This was taken at the same settings as the picture of 579 above, so I guess we'll call it operator error ! Confused. com ?

Now you've probably guessed by now that I don't know much about photography and this shot proves it. I was asking rather a lot of the camera here as the sun was behind 37579. I also took the picture far too early, so ended up cropping it which has increased the noise to an unacceptable level. It was taken at F8, 1/600 at iso 1000. The time was 14.10 and 579 was on the 13.10 ex Peterborough. It had spent last night at Yarmouth where it received a new ad for the Little Big Planet 2 computer game. Rather disappointingly the destination display did not capture as often happens.

Continuing the experimenting, this picture of 37572 was taken at F8, 1/1000 and an iso of 800. Annoyingly the destination screen didn't come out again and otherwise it appears too grainy to be classed as a good picture. I think I'm learning something here - no honestly !

So ten past three, four hours on from my first photo and I actually think I am getting somewhere ! 37564 on the 14.10 from Peterborough is about to cross the A47 flyover and even though the sun is at a bad angle, I can say it is the first shot I am happy with. The settings were identical to the previous picture, but the brighter sun seems to have improved the result. I do like the narrow font display don't you ?

I'm getting a bit more confident now and fortunately for me, I have chance to reposition the car for 37574 which is six minutes late, all other services having been on time. I've dropped the F stop to 5.6 but kept at 1/1000 and ISO 800. Again it's pretty decent I reckon.
and now we have 37572 returning East at 16.10. This bus has done very well so far this year - it's been out every day since 4th January, but at the end of this week it should be stopped for MOT. The advertising men have missed this one too and it is the only X1 vehicle retaining the ad for the film 'Paul'. Anyway, the main thing is, the picture is in focus so I must be doing something right. F7.1 1/1000 ISO  800.

The last of my daytime efforts and were it not for some unfortunate shadows, I reckon this is the sort of quality I'm after. 37571 which had done K17 every day since Monday once again came out to play today. F5.6 1/1000 ISO 800.
Now I'm sure some of you photography experts will be wanting to put me right on a few things, so please feel free using the comments feature.
Finally, I must add that the results for night photography are excellent. The picture below was taken with permission and under very low lighting conditions, without flash. F2 1/40 ISO 3200

37577 is being fitted with new adverts whilst waiting a manifold gasket.