Search This Blog


1066 and all that ! ~ Blog Catch Up

Yes it's post number 1066 ! So appropriately history is made as the MD of First Bus takes a look at the X1, but more of that anon. To begin with let's go back to Friday 24th to see what happened .....

Friday 24th June

Morning services seemed to run well and even 37570 on L12 which is due eastbound from Walpole at 13.36 was bang on time. I travelled to Norwich first thing and viewed several services, all Gemini worked. Malcolm had a day out on the X1 traversing the entire route. He says " I had a great day and managed to see most of the X1 buses including 20352 on diagram K3.
 I had 37563 on K14 to Kings Lynn and 37571 to Peterborough on K15 (usually this bus does K17) . Coming home I travelled on 37579 on K17 to Kings Lynn, where 37575 replaced 37579 which went to the garage. From Lynn I took 37158 on K18 to Norwich and then 32211 on the 1850 Norwich to Lowestoft X2 service, as K18 terminates at Yarmouth. During the day 37569 replaced 37156 on L11, 37156 replaced 37575 on K1 and 37565 replaced 37160 on K5".
A lot of swaps there then and further investigation reveals the following. 20352 was only on K3 from the 09.32 Lynn to Lowestoft and the early part of the turn was worked by 37569 which then retired for an exam. 37156 looks to have been ailing once again, something which is happening with increasing regularity and it was taken off  L11 before being revived for K1. 37565 worked just the Lowestoft to Yarmouth breakfast leg of Y13 where 37157 took over. 37565 was then spare to relieve 37160 after lunch. Speaking of which, Matthew says "Thought you'd like to know that 37160 broke down AGAIN at 14:00 when leaving Lowestoft bus station. Chaos then ensued as the spare bus was brought in to bay 4 to load,  only for the 14:10 Service 1 to arrive,  meaning the replacement Gemini, 37565 had to reverse out and park in bay 7 , before it was loaded and despatched". The normally reliable 37160 seems to be becoming a liabilty at the moment and the B9s certainly seem to have the upper hand when it comes to reliability.
Punctuality suffered later in the day with 37156 being 24 late from Peterborough on the 16.35 and 37574 on Y6 17.45 from Lynn was 19 late at Walpole. Thanks to Bruce for a full days sightings.

Des says "An historic day today as First UK bus chief Giles Fearnley made an unannounced visit to Great Yarmouth depot, meeting and informally chatting with all grades of staff. This immediately started rumours that Yarmouth could be the first place in the UK to have localised 'First' operations without the national branding we have been used to. I spoke with Giles Fearnley and the topic got onto the X1 and the X1 Blog. He had been made aware of the blog by Nigel Barrett - Regional Managing Director and sees blogs like yours as a positive way of communicating with our passengers. He told me that he is intending to travel on the X1 at some point in the future".
Well that's good news indeed and we await futher developments on this.
37573 departs Peterborough Queensgate on K15 14.14 to Lowestoft on Tuesday. Photo : M.P. Turner

Saturday 25th June 2011

After yesterday, very little seemed to happen. The B7 worked services lost time with 37159 on L11 being 12 late and 37157 on K14 11 late. 37568 was sent to Volvo for modification yesterday and was absent today. The disgraced 37160 had a welcome day off at Lowestoft.
Des says "I was driving a poorly 37564 on Y13 08.25 from Lowestoft. Wet roads resulted in the usual adblue problems and by  Dereham, the adblue was showing as empty and the engine had derated. Later I was driving 37158 on the Y10 13.02 King's Lynn to Lowestoft, the bus was late into Lynn, resulting in a 10 minute late departure, however, we were on time by Norwich (14.50) - I was supposed to refuel at Lynn, but being late, I decided to fuel at Lowestoft at 16.10".
Refuelling of the B7s when on the longer diagrams is a daily occurence which we may not have mentioned before.

Sunday 26th June 2011

All B9s today - 37563/5/6/9, 37570/3/4/5/9 to be precise.
37566 at Lowestoft where some wag has been tampering with the 'Pedestrians' signage, 566 was about to work the 16.48 to Peterborough today. Photo from Des Speed

37570 at Gorleston Magdalen Square today while working the 07.35 King's Lynn to Lowestoft. Photo by Des Speed
37575 is joined by 37570 at Lowestoft this morning. [ D Speed]
A blazing hot day where many X1 blog readers enjoyed a day out at the East Anglian Transport Museum's annual open day. These included Sam who reports 37563 working the Martham service this afternoon off K6. Me ? I was enjoying a ride on an open top Stagecoach Trident from Grasmere to Windermere and back.

Monday 27th June 2011

Trust me to go and spoil things - you may recall I was singing the praises of Profile coach 20352 the other day, well today it expired with an oil problem and was taken into Yarmouth garage for attention. It had been working K3 and this then left Lowestoft at 12.55 with the spare bus, which was 37160.

Des captured 20352 resting at Yarmouth today
Other than this a fairly unremarkable day, although the use of 37159 on K15 might have turned a few heads.

This jogger seems intrigued that a B7 is on K15, see below. Photo DS
The last time a B7 worked K15 in its entirety was back in 2009 when the B7s were new to the route ! Sister B7 37156 was in trouble again today, overheating perhaps being an understandable complaint in today's sizzling temperatures. It expired on K5 at Swaffham - what is it about 37156 & Swaffham ? - and it looks like 37564 was sent from Lynn as a replacement.
Malcolm reports 37579 on Y7 requiring fitters attention at Lowestoft before an 11 minute late departure on the 14.55 King's Lynn service.
Des writes "Giles Fearnley (Managing Director First UK Bus) - Stepped foot onto an X1 today. He boarded 37569 just after it had arrived at Norwich Bus Station at 14.45. We exchanged comments about the hot weather and he bade me farewell". Good to see the top brass checking things out.

Tuesday 28th June 2011

37568 returned from Volvo and was available for K4 while temperamental 37160 went the other way for attention.
Coach 20352 found its way to Lowestoft after yesterday's failure and provided a surprise by working the 14.08 X2 to Norwich.

James Race was in position to photograph 20352 reversing out of Lowestoft bus station this afternoon on an X2.

37156 spent the day at Lynn for an exam and investigation and this evening 37570 off Y7 was used as replacement for an ailing 37567 on L8, the 18.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough.
Rob Brooks says "Paid a visit to King's Lynn today to watch the Market day services, X1s noted with timings were :
K4 37568 1002 Lynn - Lowestoft a 0957 d1003
L10 37573 1015 Lynn - Peterborough a1009 d1016
K5 37159 1032 Lynn - Lowestoft a 1028 d1035
L11 37574 1045 Lynn - Peterborough a1040 d1046
Y6 37566 1102 Lynn - Lowestoft a1059 d1106
L12 37565 1115 Lynn - Peterborough a1110 d1117
Y7 37570 1132 Lynn - Lowestoft a1130 d1135
Y13 37158 1145 Lynn - Peterborough a1140 d1146
L8 37567 1202 Lynn - Lowestoft a1159 d1202

Some pretty impressive timekeeping there then Rob. Thanks also to Brucey for his continued 100% coverage of X1 workings in my absence.


Thursday June 23rd 2011 ~ Order, Order !

37575 ready to work the 07.30 Yarmouth to Lowestoft (Y13) this morning. Photo from Des Speed.
With the current X1 fleet now having amassed a huge mileage, I was told today that a request has been made for 22 new buses for the route. A higher specification has been asked for and amongst improvements if the order is sanctioned are all leather seats and a  return to the comfort afforded by coaches whilst retaining the low floor access. Good news for X1 passengers if it comes to fruition.
Although the current fleet have excellent reliability figures, 37160 was in the wars again last night. It has already had a replacement starter motor fitted this year, but Wilf's report on Monday was given further credence when 37160 again expired at Peterborough on Y13, the last run from Peterborough last night. Temporary repairs were effected and it got back to Lynn somewhat late. Today it was kept in for attention and went out on K5 on which it completed the turn.
A five vehicle collision between Wisbech and Guyhirn took its toll on mid afternoon services today. Services from Peterborough passed me as follows : K14 with 37564 1 late. K15 with 37579 7 late, K16 with 37578 42 late, K17 with 37571 16 late (and just 4 minutes behind K16) then K18 with 37574 7 late. Going westbound K1 with 37567 was viewed at 15.51, but was back 8 minutes later diverting over Wisbech town bridge, through the Old Market and then continuing via Wisbech St. Mary.
37572 began the day on K18, but it was changed in King's Lynn and the 14.15 to Peterborough was 37574. K16 with 37578 which, as reported above, was heavily delayed saw 37566 take over on the 16.02 to Lowestoft, having had its MOT earlier. K4 with 37568 also changed vehicles with 37572 taking over on the 16.45 to Peterborough. 37568 is due to go to Volvo for modifications tomorrow.
37156 remained at Lowestoft today and may well have seen use on the X2, Malcolm reported 32100 out again on the 14.38 service to Norwich.
Profile 20352 is beginning to defy the types reputation for poor reliability and has worked K3 every day (Sunday excepted) since 14th.

37157 was Y6 today - normally a B9 turn, here it arrives at Wisbech as the 08.48 to Peterborough.
I am now away until Tuesday, so expect the next blog around then. All reports welcome as always.

Wednesday 22nd June 2011 ~ Left Behind

Punctuality remained good today. 20352 on K2 was 6 late this morning, but was marginally early this afternoon on the 16.48 Wisbech to Peterborough (12.55 ex Lowestoft). The coach was the only non- Gemini working today. Swaps included 37569 on the 13.08 Lowestoft - Norwich X2 later replacing 37159 on L10. K15 with 37574 was changed at lunchtime for 37578 which was back from Volvo. Finally Y6 had 37568 changed for 37156 for the 20.35 King's Lynn to Lowestoft, 156 had just arrived on L11.
Alan from Market Harborough says "An addition to your complaints this week, this morning myself and about ten other senior citizen pass holders were left behind at Yarmouth after the driver said, "I'm due away now", closed the doors and left us all standing bewildered and none too pleased. Bit of a jobsworth attitude if you ask me ". Oh Dear, we haven't had any problems like this for ages and now several all at once. Do keep me informed of any incidents and don't forget to praise drivers when it all goes well.
37568 pauses at Norwich on Y6 this morning and connects with the 07.30 Megabus to London, [Des Speed}


Tuesday June 21st 2011 ~ Moans and Groans

We wouldn't be in the real world if the X1 always ran without problems. On Monday, Wilf says L10 (37160) broke down at Wisbech when it failed to restart after passengers had boarded - I haven't seen any other evidence of this incidentally. The driver told passengers who had purchased tickets that refunds could not be given as the next bus was only a short wait away. Wilf missed his train connection at Lynn and went home.
Dave says "Hi Gerard, we were travelling back from Norwich to Yarmouth on the 16.40 departure today and had not long left Acle when the said bus seemed to have suffered either a burst coolant hose or radiator. We all had to disembark and await the arrival of the 16.55 out of Norwich, the photo is not that good as it was  taken with my mobile phone, the time being 17.10 approx'. Enjoy reading your blog as we regularly use the X1 service when we visit Great Yarmouth during the summer". Thanks for that Dave.
X1 regular Doreen was on K17 from Queensgate on Saturday afternoon when she committed the cardinal sin of not holding her senior citizens pass correctly resulting in a rocket from the driver "I've held it that way for ten years" says Doren "There was really no need for him to be quite so aggressive".
Oh well, I suppose considering the number of X1s on the road, we don't get many complaints, but in the interests of fairness I thought I would include these, rare though they are.

Dave's picture of the expired 66126 near Acle today

Today 37156 was spare at Lowestoft and worked the 12.08 & 15.08 X2 services to Norwich. Marcus says that K3 had not been evident at the expected time in Thorney either yesterday or today, but in each case it was 20352. K4 on the other hand had appeared on time on both days.
It was a good day for punctuality with 37158 on L11 11.18 Wisbech to Peterborough 9 late being the poorest of the morning services noted.


Monday June 20th 2011 ~ Subtle Changes

Until the loss of its local buses, King's Lynn made a habit of having a freshly serviced Gemini ready - if all went well - for K5, 07.45 to Peterborough. The loss of the 21 locally used vehicles and the consequent gaps available for X1 maintenance, now mean that K4 which departs Lynn for Peterborough at 07.15 can now also be worked by a bus off a completed safety service. Today 37570 was the Gemini concerned, but unusually K5 had 37157 which is due for a service tomorrow.
With increasing regularity a Gemini can now be seen on the X2 on an almost daily basis. Malcolm, back from a break on holiday says "This morning 37156 worked the 09.40  ex Norwich  X2 service and returned on the 11.08 from Lowestoft, 37567 on K17 was followed by 37578 working K18 and 37573 with K19 and this afternoon 37568 worked Y7 and 37563 arrived on L8".
I had to drive to Norwich this afternoon as my brother is shortly to undergo cancer treatment at the N&N. Despite his misfortune, he found my continued references to the X1s quite amusing. En route we saw 37567 on K17 near Tilney, K19 with 37573 just exiting Narborough, K1 with 37575 near Fransham and 20352 on K3 near Honingham. On our return we saw 37158 on K16 near Easton and then overtook L8 with 37563 near Dereham. K18 was 37574 seen near Necton. Malcolm confirms that this turn began with 37578 and in the event, 37574 returned from Volvo after gearbox modifications and then replaced 578 which in turn travelled to Volvo for the same work to be done. 37573 was once again passed beyond Middleton at 18.02, the same time the following service was due to depart Lynn eastbound, so reasonably late.

If all this low floor stuff is getting you down, here's a fine portrait of 126 taken today by Des.

Its move to King's Lynn cancelled, Olympian 34333 continues to provide a useful service, as seen here today when photographed by Des Speed.


Sunday June 19th 2011 ~ No News is Good News

All quiet on the X1 front today, the service was an all B9 affair with the following operating : 37563/5/7/9, 37571/2/3/5/6/9.
The first of the Geminis transferred from Lowestoft to need an MOT is 37566 and this will be sidelined at King's Lynn until Wednesday. The test should take place at Bexwell on Thursday.
A little piece of history was written today when the final four Volvo B7TL deckers left King's Lynn for Braintree. Syd says "This afternoon I had a trip to Kings Lynn to assist the final evacuation of Rowan Road.  At exactly 1400 hrs the last four B7s, 30900-30903 left in reverse numerical order to go to Braintree!  I was the final bus to leave in 30900, no trumpets or crowds of well-wishers were in evidence. The buses made a safe journey to their new home arriving just over two hours later.  The end of another era".

The last four Volvo B7TLs line up at Rowan Road this afternoon. Photo :  Syd Eade

Still no sign of 37577 returning, so 20352 continues to deputise on K3, seen here at King's Lynn on Friday and photographed by Damon.

Such a shame that these never work beyond Norwich on the X1. 34186 worked Thursday's 09.00 Gorleston JPh to Norwich 'short'. Photo from Des Speed.


Saturday 18th June 2011 ~ Local Working

I had to drop a friend at Walpole Highway for the X1 this morning, so I decided to have a trip to Wisbech and back. My prediction for L11 was correct, i.e. that it would be a B7 and therefore be late. A young lady waiting at the bus stop was making use of modern technology and was able to tell us when the bus was in the vicinity, thanks to her having a friend on board. 37158 was the charge and it arrived about 6 minutes late. It soon became clear though that the driver was not for dawdling and we enjoyed a good fast trip into Wisbech. At this point the Heavens opened and then L8 with 37573 appeared, again a little late, but with Mr. Speed at the wheel. Again we made good progress and arrival at Walpole was only a few minutes behind schedule. I popped to see Bruce and we found ourselves waiting to view L9 which was 37157 and eventually Y13 which was 12 late with 37569.

37569 on Y13 with friendly driver heads for Peterborough at lunchtime.
There didn't seem to be any swaps today and an all low floor affair was scuppered by 20352 - you've guessed it - on K3.

Friday 17th June 2011 ~ That Extra Oomph !

The speed handicap of the B7s (37156-60) definitely seems to be noticeable in terms of punctuality. Today was a good day for a Friday, but once again the B9s ran pretty much to time, while the B7s lagged behind. Seen today were 37157 on Y6, this was 9 late on the 08.48 Wisbech - Peterborough and 8 late returning east, L11 had 37160 which was just 4 late on the 11.18 to Peterborough. Later 37159 was seen on K16 running 23 late on the 14.35 from Peterborough and then 37156 worked K18 which was 14 late westbound and 24 late returning. The missing B7, 37158 was employed for a second successive day on the X2 and was seen on the 13.08 ex Lowestoft. An unusual sight on the X2 today was Yarmouth's 32100 which worked the 09.40 from Norwich.
20352 carried on its good work on K3 today, allowing King's Lynn to keep 37571 for servicing. 37574 (volvo) and 37577 (Full Circle) were the other absentees.
Des kindly sent some pictures for us today :

Until last weekend a King's Lynn bus, 30888 was back at Yarmouth today working locally. [D Speed]

"This one's for Bruce" says Des, who took this shot of 34108 on the 17.25 Lowestoft - Yarmouth 'short' tonight.

34113 on the X1 short 09.00 ex James Paget Hospital is overtaken by 37570 on K15 this morning. [Des Speed]


Before the Volvo B10Ms

In one of our occasional looks back at the history of the X1 route and its precursors, Jim Long takes us back to 1997 with a look at a couple of the Leyland Tigers which were still then used on the X94 alongside the new B10M coaches.

On August 27th 1999, B10M coach 20123, which was scrapped a couple of months back, was looking very smart when Jim Long photographed her at the James Paget Hospital on an X94. So let's look at what the B10Ms replaced................

Note the Excel logo in the right window, Leyland Tiger F613 XWY stands in Norwich Surrey Street bus station on May 3rd 1997. [ J Long]

and here is sister vehicle F614 XWY standing in King's Lynn bus station after a fling to Hunstanton on February 22nd 1997. Photo Jim Long.

Thursday 16th June 2011 ~ What an Advert ?

The men whose job it is to plaster our buses with adverts were about on Monday night. Obviously with a plan to target as many X1 vehicles as possible, they managed to place an advert for 'The Click Card' on the nearside of 17 of our buses. This leaves 37577 with its 'Deadspace' ad (not changed as it is in Full Circle for continuing repairs),  37156 is the only X1 bus still retaining the Three Smart Phone ad and the remaining three are still wearing Easy Jet ads. On the offside the majority have an ad for the, by all accounts, distinctly forgettable film 'Bad Teacher' , while 37157, 37564/7/8/79 have a new one for 'Pandora'. This leaves 37563 with 'Fast & Furious 5' and 37574 with 'BT Springwatch Offers'. 37577 was last seen with an ad for 'Rio'.
37563/67/78 are the only three without rear ads and nearly all have one of two differing versions for AXA insurance. 37564 has a Swiftcover ad, 37566/8 Confused.Com which is also still thought to be on 37577. Ok that's the end of the adverts !
37158 was back at work today and was used on K18 06.51 Wisbech to Lowestoft, a regular B7 turn. For some reason at Lowestoft it was switched for 37157 and 37158 then had an outing on the X2 at 12.08 to Norwich.
37575 & 37565 did a maintenance swap on Y9 at King's Lynn, while 37574 went to Volvo at Norwich for gearbox modifications.
Marcus, Matthew, Paul and Richard all reported seeing 20352 on K3 today at various points on the route. Paul was travelling on the A47 and kindly sent in all his sightings including seeing 37158 returning on the 13.40 X2 from Norwich.
Andy James reports some new Geminis arriving at Norwich for use on Route 25, see his blog here :


Wednesday 15th June 2011 ~ Blogger On The Road (and Railway !)

Recently my friend Peter Risebrow, a regular X1 passenger and reader and contributor to this blog, suggested that we have a day out at the Mid Norfolk Railway. This seemed an excellent idea and so it was that today we did just that. My lift dropped me at Walpole Highway at 08.35, so I had almost 30 minutes to wait for K3. I decided that I would hang around and see if Y6 08.33 to Peterborough had gone and as luck would have it, 37563 appeared almost immediately. I caught this and after showing my VIP pass to our genial driver we were off to Wisbech. I sat upstairs behind the staircase and we were soon heading into the town where it seemed that most people had decided to take a day off, as the commuter traffic was very light enabling us to make up any lost time.
The weather was better than forecast and after a pleasant wait of just under 10 minutes, K3 rolled in with - as I'd hoped - B7 Profile 20352. Peter boarded at Walton Road and was surprised to see me already on the bus, having expected me to be at Walpole. After a discussion we agreed that the last time we'd had a day out on, what was then called a Wanderbus ticket, was in 1973 !
20352 was comfortably loaded from Wisbech, but filled up well before departure from Lynn. We picked up the driver who was to take us forward from Lynn at the South Gates and he travelled 'on the cushions' to the bus station.
Business was brisk and there was a slight delay at Narborough where a less than able person took a little time to board and who quickly snapped up the designated disabled seat. Although not quite as comfortable as the Paragons, there was certainly plenty of legroom on the Profile.

20352 does a fair trade at Dereham whilst en route to Lowestoft this morning.

Part of the days plans was to sample the new Wetherspoons establishment in Dereham and here we met another old friend, historian and railway author Richard Adderson. Lively conversation ensued helped by a couple of pints of Woodfordes followed by the huge breakfast at a mere £4.10 and guaranteed to set you up for the day. Batemans XXXB was sampled too before we agreed it was time to wander down to the station to travel on the 13.15 dmu to Wymondham Abbey. Considering it was midweek and not yet the height of the season, the MNR must have been impressed with the reasonably loaded train - a 2 car Metro-Cammell unit.

 The weather remained in kind mode and although taken at a very sedate pace, the return trip was most enjoyable. Back at Dereham, we pondered as to why the X1 doesn't have a stop outside the MNR station - this would also be very convenient for the Morrisons supermarket just opposite. With the railway now attracting large numbers of visitors from far and wide, it would seem a sensible suggestion.
We retraced our steps back into the town and stopped off at the Kings Head for more from the Woodfordes portfolio in the shape of Sundew and Nelson's Revenge, all very pleasantly imbibed in the sunshine of the beer garden. Well as you can tell, there was no driving involved for any of us today !
Back at the bustling Market Place it was time to go our separate ways with Richard who had travelled up by Konectbus, returning on the 16.37 X1 (K15) with 37576

Richard at the upstairs second window looks happy to be on 37576 for the journey home !
At this point I realised that our departure westbound was at 16.35 and that this was Y6, the bus I'd started the day with. Sure enough in swept 37563 with Blondie Karen and after a brief pause we were on our way back home.

After it failed yeterday, 37157 was diagrammed on K16 today. We passed it near Scarning heading east this teatime.
 Our final chauffeur change occurred at the South Gates on our way out of Lynn and our arrival at Walton Highway where we were being met by Angela, was pretty much on time. All in all a very enjoyable day out and my thanks to all concerned.
Ironically, whilst I saw many of the X1 turns, a couple escaped me - K14 was I'm pretty certain 20126 and this may have been replaced at Yarmouth by 37159 which was spare. 37570 was revived today and worked Y13. The Gemini show on the X2 continued with 37569 providing the entertainment.


Tuesday 14th June 2011 ~ Revisiting Old Haunts

Both Bruce and Jamie R reported a rare sight at Walpole Highway this lunchtime. Driver trainer coach 20109 had paused here during duties and to add to the occasion, Y13 passed through the village at the same time with 20126 standing in for unavailable Gemini 37570.
During the morning 37563 on Y9 was replaced by 37159 as the former required servicing, however, no sooner had 37563 been completed than it was on its way again, this time to take over K18 15.35 from Peterborough which had failed at Wisbech with 37157 overheating. If this scenario sounds familiar, check out yesterday's blog when we reported a similar situation, again on K18, but this time with 37156 at Swaffham.
Many services ran around 5 minutes behind time today, but there were no serious delays noted. 37568 was seen by Michael Bryant operating an X2 diagram and once again B7 Profile coach 20352 had returned to its favourite turn, K3.


Monday 13th June 2011 ~ The Western Front

So another week begins, but this one is different on the X1. For years now, in times of shortage, King's Lynn would frequently borrow a town or schools bus to fill any voids. This would happen if services from the East were late running or a failure occurred. This option has now ceased of course.
Today, the 'spare' bus situation was 37563 at Lowestoft : this was gainfully employed on the X2 and was noted by various correspondents working the 09.10 ex Norwich, 14.10 ex Lowestoft and 17.23 ex Lowestoft. Now that all buses are serviced at Lynn, it would seem that appearances on the X2 might be more prolific when a Gemini is available.
A minor contretemps involving 37158 & 37159 at King's Lynn on Saturday meant 37158 was sidelined today for servicing and touching up. 37159 was back on the road though and worked K5. 20352 was not in use today and was seen at Vancouver Avenue this evening, however, it may possibly have been utilised this afternoon when 37156 expired at Swaffham on K18 overheating. Whether 20352 was used to rescue any stricken passengers, or whether they simply boarded the following K19 is not known. Repairs completed, 37156 was available to resume K18 at 17.02 to Lowestoft. The service did not run over the western section - so this is possibly the first occasion of the new regime where nothing was available.
Only one service was delayed by any margin today and that was Y13 11.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough seen 15 late from Wisbech, a situation enlarged upon by Des : "37565 - 08.15 Lowestoft to Peterborough, on time till, queueing traffic on the A47 at Blofield. This necessitated a diversion via Blofield Heath and Thorpe End, I was 15 late at Norwich (10.10). Traffic conditions didn't help and I was 18 late into Lynn (11.55)".

The evenings first arrival,  37157 off Y7 is in the foreground with 20352 in the distance and 37569 undergoing a wash at Vancouver Avenue this evening.


Sunday 12th June 2011 ~ A Vintage Day

There is something quite sobering about buses you remember from your childhood being referred to as 'vintage' vehicles ! This was the case today when to mark the Norfolk Green takeover of the Hunstanton route, three vintage buses operated on the route as reliefs to the normal service vehicles.
The weather was pretty dire, but several brave souls took the opportunity to ride behind Julian Patterson's RLE and the two buses from the East Anglian Transport Collection.
Earlier in the day, Yarmouth's 20115 had made the trip over to King's Lynn with seven drivers to collect some of the 'First' buses requiring transfer to other depots. First thing, two Volvo B7TL double deckers and a number of Scanias were taken to Yarmouth and Ipswich, then later in the day 65525-28 were taken to Colchester. This left 30900-903 & Solo 53701 destined for Braintree, plus the other Solos which are due to depart for Kidderminster and Redditch.

20115 deposits a posse of drivers at Rowan Road to collect redundant King's Lynn 'First' buses.

Now what bearing exactly will this have on the X1 ? Well, for the moment, the transfer of vintage Olympian 34333 has been deferred as Volvo B7TL 30886 is being retained for working the schools contract mentioned previously. Whilst it is expected that there will always be a spare Excel Gemini at King's Lynn in the event of a failure (this is because servicing is expected to be carried out on two buses here every day), it does beg the question that should a spare not be available would the schools vehicle be used if outside the hours of its schools diagram ? It would seem unlikely as during the B7TLs tenure at King's Lynn this has never occurred up to now. The more likely option would be to cancel a service instead which is a shame.
The X1 was a completely B9 operated affair today. At some stage, either last night before departure on the 20.35 to Lowestoft, or today on the 12.50 Lynn to Peterborough, 37564 was removed as it was neeed at Lynn for servicing. 37575 was the replacement.
Here are a few pictures from today.....

The Scanias, for so long a trusted X1 standby await their fate.

Two of the Volvo B7Tls, 30889 & 30888 depart Rowan Road for Great Yarmouth

Des Speed with 65531 leaving Saddlebow compound with 65529 - the last Scania to work on an X1 following up.

By early afternoon, the rain had arrived. 37573 is seen near the South Gates on the 13.50 to Peterborough.

In the early 1970s, RLE864, now immaculately restored by Julian Patterson, was a regular sight on the X1 route between Norwich, King's Lynn and Peterborough. Here it is seen at Sandringham visitors centre this afternoon.

OVF229 of 1954 vintage on arrival at Hunstanton bus station this afternoon. Sister vehicle OVF227 worked on the route until the early 1970s.

A very wet King's Lynn bus station with 37573 ready to depart at 16.35 to Lowestoft, also visible is a Sanders vehicle working the X8 and OVF229 behind it, as well as sundry NG vehicles.


Saturday 11th June 2011 ~ Back Seat for the X1

Yes, once again today, the X1 is taking a back seat in the blog. Today as we briefly mentioned yesterday, marked the withdrawal of 'First' from local operations at King's Lynn. A small crowd of enthusiasts gathered to mark the event and after work, I was able to join Andy James & co to witness the final rundown of operations.
This seemed an ideal opportunity to make use of a gift from 'First' themselves. Following the Anglia TV item recently, Colin Booth kindly arranged for me to be the recipient of a 'First' VIP pass entitling me to free travel on 'First' buses throughout the country. This came as a complete surprise to me and needless to say, I am very grateful for the generosity of all those concerned at the company.
Our first trip of the evening was on a service 42 to Fairstead Estate with Scania 65532 and Des took this photo of me presenting the aforementioned pass to 65532's driver Emlyn.

Once again a big thank you to all concerned. Des and myself enjoyed our trip on the 42 and were impressed with Emlyn's driving around some of the tight clearances in parts of Fairstead. Back at the bus station,  Des departed for Yarmouth, but not as a passenger, instead taking Volvo B7TL 30887 which was the first of the local buses to depart for pastures new. Here it is having a breather on the Swaffham bypass....

Meanwhile I decided to travel to Hunstanton on one of the final trips operated by 'First'. My bus was 30901 driven by Andy who seemed to know the route like the back of his hand - not surprising really, as I discovered he had lived much of his life in Heacham and was just about as local a chauffeur as I could get. Like the other town drivers, his next shift will be as a Norfolk Green employee.
The journey was most enjoyable and the only slight disappointment was the reprehensible behaviour of a group of teenagers at the rear of the top deck on the return journey. They left the vehicle in a terrible mess.
Here is 30901 during its short layover at Hunstanton.

30901 ended up being the last 'First' service to operate via Sandringham and it was also the final service worked by a double decker, as the remaining trips were all Scanias.
This really was the end and on arrival back at Lynn, the offices/canteen at the bus station were being emptied of 'First' belongings, most of which were then relocated to Vancouver Avenue. Here a new portacabin on the site of the old car park will now be the home for Rosie and her colleagues displaced from the bus station. X1 crew changes will take place in the vicinity of the South Gates.
Here is the last service to Fairstead at 20.05 (left) and the final Hunstanton at 20.15 with Driver Frost at the helm of Scania 65528.

So from now on at King's Lynn, the Excel X1 will be alone in flying the 'First' flag. There have been various rumours flying around of course, but one which has not been heard much is the theory that if good times return and the recession ends, 'First' could be back big time. We will have to wait and see of course.
Now to the X1 and a quiet day operationally with an entirely Gemini operated service. 37158 was removed from L8 as it should be serviced on Monday and 37569 was provided as replacement. Here are a few pictures from today.

Des says "Who is that guy taking a photo of the X1 at the South Gates roundabout ?"

Well just to prove it, it was Des himself and here is the picture of 37571 on K17.

Grahame Bessey took over 300 shots at King's Lynn today, here's a fine one of 37565 working Y13 11.45 to Peterborough.

           37566 arrives to work K14 12.15 to Peterborough, while L8 12.02 to Lowestoft loads with 37569.                            Photo : Grahame Bessey

37564 arrives at Wisbech on Y6 08.48 to Peterborough, as Emblings E901KYR heads for March standing in for a single decker and leaves a smokescreen over the Horsefair.


Friday June 10th 2011 ~ All Manner of Surprises

37567 departs Lowestoft for Peterborough on L12 07.45 departure this morning : Photo from Grahame Bessey
Well whatever next, I am told by one of my Yarmouth chaps that First's ancient Olympian 34333 (H132FLX) is King's Lynn bound, to, wait for it, cover a Norfolk Green schools contract !! Best not to ask why me thinks.
Speaking of Norfolk Green, they are big news at the moment of course as it is this weekend that they take over the King's Lynn local services from 'First'. On Sunday they are hoping to use some vintage vehicles on a free relief service to Hunstanton. WNG864H (ex Eastern Counties RLE864) was for several years a King's Lynn bus and in the early 1970s was a regular sight on the King's Lynn to Peterborough /Hunstanton runs. RS658, KVF658E was at one time allocated to Wisbech (or may be it was March) and often worked the 354 between the two towns. The other vehicle is Bristol LKD OVF229. This decker has no Lynn connection as far as I'm aware, but sister vehicle OVF227 (long since scrapped) was a stalwart on the 39s to South Wootton between 1969 & 1972.
Now being on local television and in the newspapers is one thing that the X1 blog can claim, but how about this for recognition ? Norfolk Green have named their Optare Tempo YJ59 NNZ (fleet number 107) 'ANDY JAMES' in recognition of Andy's own blog which is a good publicity vehicle for NG amongst others. Congratulations to Andy and here are some pictures he has taken of the bus proudly wearing his name :

Well that takes a bit of beating I'm sure you'll agree, but I've another revelation to come in tomorrow's blog which again proves that bus enthusiasts can be a useful aid to the industry.
Well, I'm sorry if all this is a bit off topic as it were, but when 80 years of Eastern Counties history ends, it is definitely worth featuring. Now though to today's X1 news.........
The service today was provided by 37563 - 576 inclusive, plus 37578 and B7s 37156/7/9/60. Finding itself spare at Lowestoft yet again, 37158 was utilised on the X2 being seen working the 14.38 departure to Norwich. 37579 and coach 20352 were spare at King's Lynn garage today after maintenance.
For a Friday, timekeeping was pretty fair - worst performer noted by me at Wisbech was 37157 on K16 which managed to be 14 late for the 13.48 Peterborough departure.
Des reports an unusual incident whilst driving 37565 on L8 21.35 King's Lynn to Lowestoft tonight .."When alighting at East Winch a young man handed me a Samsung mobile phone that had been left on the lower deck back seat. I switched the phone to 'silent'. Not to evade the owner phoning, but it can be quite distracting having someones lost phone ringing away while you drive. At Norwich a young couple, clutching an X1 timetable, asked if I had been handed a Samsung mobile phone. They had come all the way from Lynn to retrieve something that I may not have had. Though, in the main, most people are honest, there are those that would have just walked off with anything that they find on the bus!!". Ah nice to get a good honest tale Des, he adds "Petrol update - 133.9 - Tesco Low, 132.9 Sains Nor, 134.9 Sains Easton and 135.9 Tesco Lynn".
37568 receives some TLC from Ryan tonight. Photo Des Speed

K5 (37574) and L11 (37573) after arrival at King's Lynn this evening. Photo from Des Speed