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Tuesday 27th September 2011 ~ Warming Up

The forecast warm weather coincided with some poor timekeeping today - may be there was more leisure traffic ? Although nothing exceeeded ten minutes in arrears through Wisbech, several services were affected. Malcolm saw 37160 on K18 arriving Lowestoft 17 late and departed 15 late back eastbound on the 10.55 departure. It was just 10 late by Wisbech so had managed to make up a little time.
37565 on L8 was taken off at Lynn for unknown reasons at 09.07 and the 09.15 to Peterborough proceeded with 37572, however, this just worked over the western leg and 37565 was back fit for the 12.02 to Lowestoft. 37159 was noted spare at Gasworks Road today by Malcolm.


Monday 26th September 2011 ~ New Diagrams

New diagrams for drivers and buses began today. On the vehicle side, only two car lines seem to be affected. These involve Y6 which on arrival with the 19.10 Peterborough to Lowestoft previously retired to Gasworks Road, but now returns light to Yarmouth and L8 20.10 from Peterborough which now does the opposite and instead of running light to Yarmouth goes straight to Lowestoft garage.
Yesterday's derailment near Saddlebow resulted in several rail replacement buses being provided. Tonight Harrods and Towlers coaches were seen along with WLT916, a Leyland Olympian now with Ensign Bus (originally registered C816BYY).
There are no longer any First vehicles available for hire at Lynn, although a stranger here this week has been Norwich's 33248, a Dennis Trident registered LT52WVA which has been undergoing MOT.
X1 Gemini 37563 has started the MOT programme rolling again this week and it should return to traffic at the end of the week.
37159 was Lowestoft spare bus today and ended up working the 14.08 X2 to Norwich. On the X1 tonight, 37573 was unable to work the final leg of K17 back from Lowestoft to Lynn and 37158 off K16 depuitised.


Sunday 25th September 2011 ~ The Power of Advertising

Recently I took a photo of a Gemini with an advert on the side proclaiming 'Conan The Barbarian'. I decided to use this title in my caption to the photo on my Flickr site - result ? It has had a couple of hundred hits rather than the handful I normally get. So it shows the power of advertising ! Speaking of which a few new campaigns are on the go at the moment as seen here, pictures taken with permission.

So a quiet day on the X1. In service were 37564/5/7, 37571/3/4/5/6/7/9. Sam texted early on though to say that 37156 was having a day out on the X2.

Saturday 24th September 2011 ~ Chasing the X1

37565 storms out of Walton Highway on L12 12.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft today.
This morning began with a bit of a farce for me. Having agreed to give Mr. Robinson a lift to Walpole Highway to catch Y6 (the 08.33 to Peterborough), we were late leaving. To make sure he caught it, I diverted up West Drove to Walton Highway. We were just approaching the main road when 37576 went flying past a minute early ! Cue an  X1 chase.... 576 went non-stop through Walton, so we continued following her to Walton Road where passengers were waiting and by which time it was 2 early. I pulled in in front of 576 and duly despatched my passenger off to work.
Everything seen today appeared to run to time and as we haven't had a rundown of duties lately, this is where the X1 Geminis were working today :
37563 ~ Y7   37564 ~ Y13   37565 ~ L12   37566 ~ L8 /King's Lynn spare   37567 ~ K2   37568 ~ L8 from 09.15
37569 ~ K4   37570 ~ Y10   37571 ~ L11   37572 ~ K17   37573 ~ K15   37574 ~ K18
37575 ~ K1   37576 ~ Y6   37577 ~ K5   37578 ~ King's Lynn Spare   37579 ~ K19
37156 ~ Lowestoft spare   37157 ~ K3   37158 ~ L9   37159 ~ K14   37160 ~ K16
 The reason for 37566 being replaced by 37568 on L8 was to facilitate an exam on 566. The A47 at Eye reopened at about 19.00 last night after the excitement of yesterday afternoon.


Friday 23rd September 2011 ~ A Day of Two Halves

Today didn't really seem like a day which would end in chaos, but then you never know with the A47 on a Friday do you ?
Up until early afternoon, everything had gone perfectly well, with only very minor delays. K15 which is normally a solid B9 turn, but which had 37158 on Wednesday, was today allocated 37156. I was surprised to find it almost on time on the 12.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough. When I didn't see it return, I assumed it might have taken an alternative route for some reason, or may be it had expired. In the end it became obvious that something was badly amiss, as then K16 (due past me at 15.20) and K17 (due 15.50) both failed to appear either. Going west, things seemed unaffected and buses ran as follows : K17 37576 1 late, K18 37573 1 late, K19 37563 8 late, K1 37575 8 late, K2 37570 4 late and K3 37157 2 late.

Eventually at 16.07, 37156 went past Lowestoft bound - this was K15 now running a huge 77 minutes late ! There was no sign of K16, but then K17 came back 48 late at 16.38, then the missing K16 finally turned up with 37159 arriving at Wisbech Horsefair at 17.06 (due 15.21) and consequently a massive (and possibly all time record breaking) 105 minutes late. Running closely behind it was 37573 on K18, itself 50 late. These two buses passed Walpole Highway at 17.22 and 17.26 respectively.
So what exactly happened then ? Well Cambridgeshire Traffic News cited a lorry on fire and a shed load of potatoes closing the A47 near Eye. Des did some investigations and found the exact location for us. He says "The road Westbound was closed at Thorney Bypass and traffic was going into Thorney and turning left towards Whittlesea. The road eastbound was closed at the Eye turn off near to the white Millstones, so traffic was being returned toward Peterborough through Eye Village.
37156 (K15) dep Lynn 12.45, should return to Lynn for the 15.32 to Lowestoft, actual arrival 16.45. This then operated by Lowestoft driver as K16 16.02 to Lowestoft. K17 16.32 Lynn - Lowestoft which is operated by a Lynn driver who keeps the same bus and returns to Lynn at 20.48 didn't run, but was supposed to go light to Lowestoft instead.

I was next up and my drive should have been XL05 (K18) - 37573 due Lynn 16.54. I was told to take the next bus that came in, which was expected to be 37159 (K16) , what turned up was 37576 (K17) at the Southgates at 17.04. The driver had come direct from Peterborough  via Whittlesea and hadn't passed 37159. So, 37576 had somehow overtaken the bus 30 mins in front of it. One can only assume that the driver of 37159 had been caught in traffic immediately in the vicinity of the fire. I left as above and with light loading caught up with 37156 loading in Norwich bus station @ 18.50. He took a full load and I then pulled onto the stand to take the rest, some 12 passengers. I overtook 37156 on Norwich southern bypass to arrive in Yarm -4 (19.24). - So 37576 had overtaken the two buses that should have been running in front of it!
In short - 
A bus was put in for the 15.32 leaving at 15.50
The 15.32 to Low became the 16.02 leaving at 16.50
The 16.32 to Low became the 17.02 to Yarm leaving at 17.11

Is this the latest X1 ever ? 37159 passes Walpole 106 minutes late this afternoon.
Well thanks for that lengthy explanation Des. Naturally buses ended up in the wrong places this evening, 37159 and 37573 which should have finished at Lowestoft and Yarmouth, were both returned to Lynn and 37563 & 37576 which had been supposed to come back to Lynn ended at Yarmouth. 37575 on K1 didn't work the 16.35 from Peterborough throughout and came off at Lynn due to excessive congestion. 37566 on the 19.10 from Peterborough was seen at Lynn Southgates about 10 late at 20.55, so by then normality seemed to be returning.
The actual location of the blockage is shown in the picture below ;

Thursday 22nd September 2011 ~ Shaky Start

Des writes " My first duty today involved the 07.30 Yarmouth - Lowestoft then 08.15 Lowestoft - Peterborough as far as Lynn (Y13). The pre service check on 37563 revealed adblue tank empty, adblue system failure and engine derated. Everything was done to try and rectify, but to no avail. I said that I would drive 37563 in its present condition and Richard would arrange it to be changed at Lynn at 11.37. Then, at approximately 08.55, everything reset itself and we had a full adblue tank, no failure warnings and full power ! In th end 37575 replaced 563 at Lynn while Martyn, the Volvo engineer fitted a new adblue tank sensor on 563 at Lynn garage".

This was about the only incident on a remarkably quiet X1 day. Several services were up to 6 minutes late, but none had lost any more time than this. 37574 had an outing on the X2 from early on. Des saw it at Norwich at 09.45 and Michael Bryant then spotted it on the 11.08 ex Lowestoft and finally Malcolm reports it on the 15.03 westbound from Lowestoft too.
All other Geminis were in service apart from 37156 which was at Lynn for servicing.


Wednesday 21st September 2011 ~ An Old Favourite

The Peterborough to Norwich section of the X1 rarely sees anything unusual these days, but east of Norwich it is a different matter with various vehicles appearing on the X1 'shorts' or 'shuttles' as they are sometimes known. These operate between Gorleston and Norwich and return at peak times.
This morning, Richard Adderson texted me to say that he'd viewed 34108 at North Burlingham on an X1. I did momentarily wonder if the 'Royale' had been let loose on a Peterborough working again - it last worked to the west end of the route on November 24th last year - but alas it was just on a short, the 08.52 from Yarmouth being driven by Des nonetheless. This is his photograph taken especially for 34108's greatest fan, Bruce.

The X2 borrowed a Gemini today with 37570 appearing on the 14.08 to Norwich, this was partly because 37156 had been used on L10 as it was required at Lynn for servicing. 156 was changed for 37160 which worked forward from Lynn to Lowestoft at 13.02.

Punctuality was good in the west today, except, unusually, first thing when services from Peterborough suffered delays. 37575 on K3 08.56 Wisbech to Lowestoft was 14 late in from Peterborough and then 37573 on K4 was 11 late and K5 with 37576 6 late. After this, services ran to time. L8 had 37577 taken off at King's Lynn just after 09.00 for unknown  reasons, it was replaced by 37563.

Tuesday 20th September 2011 ~ Days Of Old

Today I clocked up 35 years at my job, so feeling a little nostalgic, I dipped into my 1976 diary to see if there were any Wisbech bus references for 20/9/76. Indeed there were and noted were RL 720 on the 08.24 336 arrival (07.45 ex  King's Lynn probably), LH533 on the 17.15 360 to Welney, LH902 on the 17.20 370 Wisbech town service, VR145 on the 17.23 336 (16.15 Peterborough - King's Lynn) and LS811 on the 17.40 354 to March. These were all operated by Eastern Counties - may be someone out there has some photos of these vehicles ? I went to work on the 08.05 Walpole St. Peter - Wisbech operated by Alan Towler of Emneth and on that date it was worked by LCK 752, the evening return trip being with GAH 329K. Thanks to the mighty Flickr photostream of John Law, the latter can be seen here :

and LCK 752 here :

Nothing quite as exciting on the X1 today, just the usual Geminis minus 37563 and 37159 at Lynn for servicing and 37156 spare at Lowestoft.
Timekeeping was variable today, 37573 on Y9 turned up 13 late as was L12 with 37157, but in the afternoon 37571 on K17 left 2 early to Peterborough and K18 and K19 were both spot on time.


Monday 19th September 2011 ~ Clockwork

The maintenance of all the X1 Geminis has now been carried out at King's Lynn for three months and it all appears to be running well to schedule. This morning 37158 and 37564 were present as required and 564 was ready in time to work K4, while K5 which began with 37566 was handed over to 37158 for the 10.32 to Lowestoft.
37567 was collected from Norwich this morning (not sure how it came to be there, but see Saturday's blog) and replaced 37572 on K2 at King's Lynn.
K15 was (again) the only turn which was delayed. It was just 4 late on the 13.18 Wisbech to Peterborough, but was 15 late returning with 37563.
37569 was spare at Lowestoft, but was not present at Gasworks Road when Michael went to look, suggesting it was out on an X2.
Nice to hear from Syd Eade again, he says "James and myself have been away on a week long expedition to Yorkshire, although day trips took us far and wide to look at both buses and trains ( the Parry people Mover at Stourbridge was a highlight! ) A couple of buses turned up that I thought may interest you.

Firstly 37562 surprised us by appearing in just gets everywhere doesnt it? James got the best photo, my efforts failed to get the destination illuminated.

The other bus with a very tenuous X1 link was 32000, which has also moved again,from West Yorkshire to South Yorkshire and was working on normal service in Sheffield. It has been spruced up and looked quite presentable.

I will be somewhat busy over the next few days( or weeks! ) sorting over 2000 photos, adding captions etc. and adding them to various sets".
Speaking of 32000, I ought to apologise to Colin White who wrote asking if it was still about, in fact Colin,  it only remained at Lynn for a day in July before returning to Norwich.


Sunday 18th September 2011 ~ Buses on Show

Today Bruce and myself had a day out courtesy of Norfolk Green. We were invited to travel aboard their black liveried Optare Spectra to Showbus at Duxford. As usual a grand day was had by all and the weather was considerably kinder than last year, in fact the showers managed to avoid us altogether.
Thanks to a friendly supervisor at First, we were able to enjoy the day without worrying about what was on the X1, having been furnished with a full list of the vehicles out in our absence.
We met Des, Andy, Richard, Terence and Michael B at various points during the day and here are a few pictures from the show :
YIL3196 (ex N133SJF), one of two Emblings B10Ms on show

RPU869M in Eastline livery must have been an X1 route performer at one time. Follow this link to see her at Ipswich in a 1983 photo by John Law

OVF 229 appears in the blog again, this time someone had kindly blinded her up for the 336 King's Lynn to Peterborough !
Here's Bruce and myself with a smart 30902, newly repainted following transfer from King's Lynn to Braintree. Photo by Des.
Great Yarmouth depot borrowed new Gemini 36179 from Norwich and gave her a polish
Bruce with a sister of his own Leyland Nationals
and an early birthday present from me and Des
Our transport for the day in its eye catching livery. NG Spectra YG02FWD
Both 37158 and 37159 were used on the X1 today, but this evening the 17.48 Lowestoft to King's Lynn was cancelled due to driver illness and 37159 remained at Lowestoft.
Many thanks to Andy, Des and all at Norfolk Green for making our Showbus day so memorable.

Saturday 17th September 2011 ~ Explanations and Mysteries

37576 on K2 nearest the camera passes Y6 with 37569 at Faulkner's Tunnel, West Drove North this morning.
Yesterday's puzzle regarding 37157 and 37158 was explained today. K16 on Friday began with 37158, this was kept at Lowestoft where 37157 was sent back westbound, BUT only as far as Lynn where 37566 replaced it. This was to enable a modification to be made to 37157 at Vancouver Avenue. After concerns about the gear changing speeds on B7s, 157 was modified so that the change of gear takes place at 2000 revs instead of 1500. Des took it on a test run and it appeared to be a success. As a result, today 37156. 37159 and 37160 were all given the same treatment. I think 37159 was done early and was able to work K1, however, it was not seen through Wisbech this afternoon, so maybe it was done then instead of working the afternoon Peterborough leg of the turn.
Timekeeping ws quite good for a Saturday and the only turn seen running in excess of 10 minutes late was K15 with 37563. This was at least 15 late on the 12.45 Lynn to Peterborough and 26 late returning on the 14.05 service.
Tonight 37567 on Y13 was unavailable for some reason and the service was heavily delayed, eventually running with 37570 off L12.


Friday 16th September 2011 ~ Radio GaGa

I was at the BBC today, so Bruce provided details of sightings. The usual mid afternoon collapse of timings occurred with K14 being 25 late and later K19 was 23 late. 37157/8 did something odd, but I'm not sure what !
Ian Cornwell contacted me today and said "I don't know whether you follow 'The Archers' on Radio 4 or not, but there is something you should know being the top X1 man in town ". Well, no, I don't follow it actually Ian, but he explains :
 " This week Clarrie Grundy had a bout of depression and left Ambridge without warning. Upon her return we learned that she had travelled to Borchester and caught the coach to Peterborough ! Here she arrived late and spent the night in the bus station (the scriptwriters have obviously never tried this) and then intended to visit her sister in Great Yarmouth. In the event she didn't go, because their wasn't a bus until the afternoon !!!" Ian says " There is no need for me to tell you that clearly they hadn't done their homework, because as you know the X1 operates every 30 minutes".
In their defence, I suppose there isn't an advertised coach service to Great Yarmouth until the 308 at about 16.00, so maybe they were basing their script on that, rather than the X1. Mind you Cheryl tried to find the timings for the 308 (Birmingham - Yarmouth) the other day and failed miserably, there being no details on the net. In the end she had to phone National Express to find out !

Thursday 15th September 2011 ~ Benchmarx

The rear ad applied to various X1 vehicles with miniscule lettering, belongs to Benchmarx who are attempting to promote their new King's Lynn branch. Somewhat unsuccessfully with this type of ad one would imagine.

37156 remained the Lowestoft spare bus today but was employed on the 11.08 X2 to Norwich. Elsewhere, the main event on the X1 route was an unfortunate accident involving 37579 on L11 12.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft. Shortly after leaving Terrington St. John, a branch fell from a tree breaking the front upstairs window of the bus. Glass was strewn throughout the top deck, yet miraculously and despite someone sitting on the front seat, only a minor graze was reported. The driver's windscreen was also badly cracked. Earlier 37577 on K3 had been taken off at Lynn for servicing and between them, L11 and K3 had 37567 & 37569 take over, although which did what turn is unclear.


Wednesday 14th September 2011 ~ Availability

The X1 weekday service requirement of 19 vehicles from 22 available seems to be holding up well. Today 37574 was being looked at by Volvo at King's Lynn, 37569 was awaiting MOT and 37156 was the Lowestoft spare bus. 37574 was used later in the day to replace 37568 on Y6.
A rather punctual service today spoiled by 37158 on K16 which passed me 14 late to Peterborough and 11 late coming back. 37571 on K17 had also ben delayed being seen 10 late, but it gained 2 minutes on its return.
L10 with 37576 was not seen at 10.50 but returned just 2 late from Peterborough. I hesitate to say it didn't work on the 10.15 from King's Lynn, as it may have taken the Churchill Road or Old Market routes out of Wisbech.

Tuesday 13th September 2011 ~ Gone With The Wind (part 2)

Yes I'd used that headline back in 2009, but it was about the most appropriate for today's blog. With 37157 & 37160 already travelling the X1 route minus offside adverts (very unusual these days), today they were joined by 37563 and 37571. The latter had lost an advert for 'Warrior' and 37563 had only been fitted with the 'Abduction' ad on Sunday, both had been loosened by the blustery winds in the region yesterday,
The wind abated today and the timetable was largely adhered to. Vehicle swaps were prominent today. K4 started with 37566, but it required a windscreen repair and was replaced by 37157 off servicing for the 10.02 Lynn to Lowestoft. K5 with 37572 saw this replaced by 37566 this afternoon, so that it could be taken in for servicing. 37569 as previously reported was stopped for MOT preparation work today.

Bruce tells me that Norfolk Green have been experiencing some overloading problems with schoolchildren in the mornings, but it turns out that this is chiefly due to the sheep instinct where kids want to be on the same bus as their mates. Strange to me because I was just the opposite as a child ! A 336 relief ran in the morning and evening  shadowing the 06.45 Peterborough _ Lynn & 16.10 return, but starting / terminating at Wisbech, This was manned by a Wisbech driver and conductor (the likes of Freddy Hickling, Pop Horspool, Bert Barton and Gordon Seals were regulars) and I used it from when I started school in Lynn in 1969 until the reliefs were withdrawn in about 1972. Here is a picture of one of our regular buses used on the relief which was always a Bristol LC.
Photo courtesy of Mark Kirk :


Monday 12th September 2011 ~ Abduction

Timekeeping today was good and only K19 14.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough passed Wisbech notably late. It was 9 late with 37567, BUT, for some reason, L8 09.15 from Lynn westbound did not pass me. Maybe it took an alternative route for reasons unknown, however, it did return on time with 37579, bearing a new advert :  'Abduction' it said - so that was it, 579 had been abducted ?? Said new ad was accompanied by a new rear ad, which set a new record for small print - the text of which is impossible to read unless you are standing next to the bus with a magnifier. What a waste of money to whoever commissioned it ? Anyway , also noted abducted during the day were 37563 & 37574 and these too both had the illegible rear ad !
So we have L8 missing on the outward and then Y9 also failed to appear in either direction, despite having left the coast with 37564. These two absences remain unexplained. 37566 & 37570 were serviced at Lynn on the early shift and 570 was Ok to work K4, while 566 took over K5 at 10.32 so that 37569 could be stopped for its MOT work.
Des says "37159 was mine for the 15.42 Yarmouth to King's Lynn terminator. We departed  -3 (15.45) and were then delayed at Norwich. Anglian no. 4 on the National Express stop, National Express partially on his stop and also blocking stop 2 with his rear. I did think of stopping at stop 1, but that had approx fifty passengers waiting for a Wymondham bus - to have then made my sixty or so awaiting passengers  move stops would have been disastrous and delayed the Wymondham bus. Norwich -5 (16.30). Slow out of Norwich, slow on the A47 too, arrived Lynn -11 (18.18)".


Sunday 11th September 2011 ~ Diversionary Tactics

An all B9 worked service today. Only late runner seen by me was 37578 17.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough which was 16 late at Walpole, Seemed odd for a Sunday evening, but as so often is the case, all is explained by Des who says  "I was given 37578 for the 15.30 Great Yarmouth to Peterborough which I worked to Lynn. Departed on time with a full bus, as this weekend it is the Maritime Festival in Yarmouth.  Resurfacing of the road on a short length of the normal X1 route meant a diversion (click on the map for a larger version) which although shorter than the normal route,  was also serviced by the local service 8. My X1 was in front of this service and picked up large numbers of local travellers.

On to Norwich, where the football had just turned out at the same time as the shops closing, so I picked  up a full load, departing 4 late at 16.14. I took time to warn the driver of the 16.15 to Lowestoft not to use the Bracondale/County Hall route as it was very congested.
I then encountered heavy congestion on Newmarket Road, because many were leaving the County Showground 'Norfolk Gala Day'. Arrival at  Easton was 15 late at 16.40 and we then became embroiled in a slow moving A47 convoy along whole route due to old cars, old buses and horse boxes :  Hockering -20 (16.50), Dereham -20 (17.04), Swaffham -18 (17.32), Arrived Lynn -20 (18.04) - This was given over to Ray who you saw Gerard running 16 late".
For a report on the gala day, please visit Andy's blog at

Saturday September 10th 2011 ~ 37156 in Trouble Again

37563 makes haste through Walpole this afternoon working the 13.15 King's Lynn (09.55 ex Lowestoft) to Peterborough (K16)
Des reports : "Originally - 37579*64*156*69 were scheduled out of Yarmouth this morning, but 37156 returned to the depot with a broken indicator stalk and 37569 was able to step up a turn and take over, although this meant that the 07.15 James Paget Hospital to Peterborough started at Yarmouth due to time overtaking events. No indicator stalk was available at Yarmouth or Lowestoft, so a replacement was sought from Lynn to be delivered to Lowestoft. 
There was no tacho fitted bus available  to replace 156 at Yarmouth and the driver refused to take 156 light to Lowestoft. This then meant that Y13 07.30 Yarmouth - Lowestoft was cancelled. I was meant to travel passenger to Lowestoft, but drove 37156 and its driver to Lowestoft, "Not In Service".
The Lowestoft spare bus. 37160 was available to work the 08.25 to Peterborough'.
 At Lynn 37571 was kept in for windscreen attention along with 37565 and 37569 on Y10 was due to finish at Lynn for MOT prep.



Friday September 9th 2011 ~ A Red Letter Day

Well, it's all very well me running a blog on the X1, but not very good when you consider that I've never travelled east of Norwich on the route !!
Today it was time to rectify that situation and armed with my First VIP pass, I decided to do the whole route and meet up with Des for a day out.
The weather was pretty depressing at Walton Highway at 08.00 with a fine drizzle. My first bus of the day was easily recognisable when it rounded the corner from Wisbech - a narrow font destination display meant it must be 37579 and so it proved to be.
The driver was bemused by my pass and asked why I was a VIP - I told him it might be something to do with the X1 blog which I write online, to which he replied "I don't even know what a blog is ". well, he's certainly not alone there - us who are fairly up to speed on computers and the like sometimes forget there are still thousands of folks who seldom, if ever touch one. Once aboard, we proceeded at a fairly rapid rate - clearly he might not be up to speed with computers, but he certainly knew how to make the most of a Gemini.
It occurred to me that I was on the successor to the bus I used to travel to school on from 1969 - 1974. This was due at Walpole Highway at 08.05 having left Peterborough Bishop's Road bus station at 06.45 and into Lynn (on paper at least) at 08.30. In practice this was never achieved and 08.50 was the usual arrival time because of the long queue into Lynn - this was in pre-bypas days of course. Today's X1 turn K1 departs Peterborough Rail Station 15 minutes later at 07.00 and is into Lynn at 08.24. Today we were well on time at the South Gates as Bob our relieving driver remarked. The departing driver duly informed him that "We have a VIP on board". This left Bob (below) quite unphased - not surprising considering that he is the only one of the nine original X94 drivers to have remained on the route since its inception.
Leaving Lynn on time, the fact that we were running before the 09.30 deadline for pensioners passes soon became obvious - I was the solitary upstairs passenger and our timetabled diversion off the A47 through Narborough was unnecessary, with nobody to alight or pick up there. Swaffham saw seven passengers embark plus another at Necton. En route so far we had passed the following : K5 at Terrington with 37565, Y6 on London Road with 37568, Y7 with 37567 arriving as we departed King's Lynn, L8 at West Bilney with 37569, while Y9 arrived at Swaffham soon after we did with 37573, but with nobody having ventured upstairs. L10 was next, passed near Wendling with 37577, At Toftwood, a pensioner tried using her bus pass, but it was still before 09.30, so she had to stump up at least some of her fare to Great Yarmouth.
The first delay of the morning didn't affect us, it was L11 which arrived at Dereham as we were leaving at 09.38 with 37159 running about 3 late. At Hockering we met 37563 on L12 and noted on Newmarket Road as we headed into Norwich was a broken down Volvo / Wright Eclipse single decker, 66950 receiving fitters attention whilst on its way to Wymondham. Scania 65556 was a few yards behind, so presumably took the stricken passengers forward.
By now it had become obvious that we had an experienced driver at the helm and our journey was proceeding at a comfortable but relentless pace. At Norwich, Des Speed joined me for the journey into the 'Far East'. We met 37157 on K14 as we left Norwich bus station ( I guess I must have blinked and missed Y13 somewhere). At North Burlingham, K15  went by with 37566 but then there was an extended gap before a wedged 37160 was seen leaving Yarmouth on K16 and running about 13 late. Yarmouth bus station at Market Gates had a somewhat gloomy air with the concrete structure overhead - it reminded me of Birmingham New Street rail station ! A glimpse of the putrid puppet man and we were away again encountering 37570 on K17, then 37156 on K18

 and finally K19 with 37574 at Gunton St. Peters.

 It was good to have Des as guide from Norwich as he was able to point out all the local landmarks.
Bruce had phoned earlier and reported 37578 in Lynn garage together with another B9 (37571 as it transpired) in the back over the pits. Back with 37579, Bob delivered us into Lowestoft on time. Lynn driver Wyn Parry was to take 579 back west and obliged with a wave as he left (below)

Des had kindly arranged with the local maintenance controller for permission to visit the garages at Lowestoft and Yarmouth during my visit, so armed with a loaned hi-vis from Richard in Lowestoft control, we made our way on foot down to Gas Works Road, or as the sign on the opposite side of the road states 'Gasworks Road'. One word or two ? Who knows ?
The staff at Lowestoft depot were very welcoming and once signed in, we were able to tour the site which was opened around 1985. Prior to this, the garage had been down by the bus station and I was told that the original site is now occupied by shops. I certainly recall watching Bristol LFS' being tested on the skidpan here in around 1971/2 - quite spectacular to a teenager at the time. We were able to get some good photographs here and X1 regular 37158 was being held in reserve for possible use on the X2 later.

From here it is but a short walk to Britain's most easterly point. In complete contrast to Lands End and John O'Groats, this is situated at the back of an industrial estate and there are no gift shops, ice cream vans and the like, just a large metal engraved circle indicating distances and directions to places far and wide. Fascinating none the less and worth a visit.

 Going back into town it was time for fish and chips and how excellent they were - the finest I've tasted for years.
A quick dash back to Lowestoft bus station saw us waiting along with a sizeable queue for the 13.55 X1 departure. 37565 was there blinded up and ready, but no sign of a driver. Eventually our man ambled up and then the Lowestoft lady cleaner arrived and gave 565 a cursory inspection before passengers began to board. In the end we departed 6 late. Apparently the driver had only just had time for his allotted break, hence the delay. By the time we got off at Gorleston, things were not looking too good for K5 which was by now 10 late and still had to encounter the Friday afternoon traffic en route westbound. It was later seen arriving at Lynn from the west about 17 late.
A visit to the Speed household was next and I had the delight of meeting Mrs Des who made me very welcome. After enjoying a drink on the patio, it was time to continue our travels and this time it was a short walk down the road to catch a number 8 through to Caister Road garage. What we hadn't bargained for was the time of day and when our Volvo B7TL arrived it was wedged with school pupils, so standing along with many others was the only option. 30889 smelt strongly of hot brakes but was nevertheless a good steed and eventually we arrived at the stop near the garage unscathed. At this point I ought to mention that the school pupils from Cliff Park High School in Gorleston were very well behaved and a credit to their families and teachers.
Having signed in at Yarmouth garage, we met Ryan and with Des I was given a guided tour of this pretty massive establishment. Of note for X1 fans was 20126 being given attention and undergoing an MOT, so good news there. In front of it on jacks was 20109 and this may explain why in Lowestoft we saw driver trainer and ex X1 stalwart 20122 being driven by a fitter.

 As if three B10Ms wasn't a surprise, we also saw 20115 occupied on the 878 contract and X1 shuttle, so all in all relatively healthy news.
Back at the bus stop, we awaited a service 8 to take us back to town and up popped 30889 again, this time with plenty of room on board thank goodness. The driver engaged in some banter with Des and was pleased he'd made up quite a lot of lost time.

So to Yarmouth and a short wait for my homebound X1. Whilst waiting Mr. Woodhouse arrived driving 37572 on Y13 which I'd missed seeing earlier and next was my bus, 37577 on L10 driven by James who gave an impressive performance in handling the B9. Top speed was attained on several occasions and arrival at Lynn was fractionally early.
On the way I noted that services from Peterborough had obviously been in the wars, 37157 was packed when viewed at Acle running 21 late on K14. Next was 37566 noted departing Norwich bus station at 17.51 (26 late). With Bruce having texted to say 37160 was almost 40 late at Tilney on K16, it was a major surprise to see it departing Norwich 30 seconds early, still on K16. Presumably it had run light from Lynn to Norwich ?
Whilst at Norwich, the second broken down bus of the day was sighted, this time an Optare Solo belonging to Neaves which had been due to work a Happisburgh service.
37570 was sighted on Newmarket Road on K17 and K18 with 37156 was just entering Easton pretty near to time at 18.29. 37574 on K19 was also punctual leaving Dereham, but after this K1 went missing - it was eventually passed near Necton, still with 37579, but running 26 late with 'not in service' on the front. Passengers had to wait for K2 which was 12 late into Swaffham with 37576.

With 37575 having been glimpsed at Lowestoft on K3 (above) , this just left K4 outstanding and it was seen leaving Lynn about 5 late with 37564 on the 19.35 to Lowestoft.
Bruce later told me that 37156 on K18 had not gone to Peterborough this afternoon and instead, at 15.15, it was resting at Vancouver Avenue, so another service gap which is disappointing.
37577 left Lynn on time, but the relieving driver didn't seem very interested in getting away from the South Gates driver change very swiftly. As a result we were 7 late by Walpole Highway where Bruce was in situ to kindly deliver me home.
So in my opinion, a good day out meeting some friendly staff and enjoying the fine views afforded by the upper deck of the Geminis.

Thursday 8th September 2011 ~ Spot On

Today was just about as good as it gets on the X1 from an operators point of view, all on time (or thereabouts) and all low floor Geminis.
37575 had attention for an electrical fault today and despite this, is probably still at the top of the mileage table. By today it had run 340,666 miles. 37156 was the other spare at Lynn today and although older than the B9 Geminis, it has amassed 289,660 miles - the lower figure being because of its initial use on Norwich City services, rather than long hauls. Lowestoft kept 37158 as spare today.

37576 after arrival at King's Lynn tonight off K5.


Wednesday 7th September 2011 ~ Training the New Recruits

The likelihood of B10M coaches returning regularly to the X1, now that just 20115 and 20126 remain as possibilities, is remote it would seem. Occasionally though 20109 is seen in use as a driver trainer, back on June 15th,  John W saw it in Gaywood and on Monday it was seen by Malcolm in Gorleston.
The X2 seems to be using anything available at the moment and yesterday Malcolm reports Dart 43463 on the 14.38 Lowestoft - Norwich. Today Michael Bryant phoned to say 37571 had surprisingly appeared on the 12.38 after 37156 was called back to Lynn for servicing. Michael says that as far as he is aware, 571 is the only B9 Gemini never to have appeared on the X2 - until now that is. In addition 34157 was on the 10.38 today.
Timekeeping on the X1 was exemplary today with very light road traffic levels, three morning services from Peterborough were either early or on time into Wisbech, these being L8 10.35 with 37574, Y9 11.05 with 37576 and L10 11.35 with 37567. The only hiccup occurred late afternoon when K17 with 37156 (having replaced 37571 - see above) was 10 late on the 15.05 ex Peterborough and then K18 which had been just 2 late going west with 37157, must have encountered a problem en route as it was 16 late returning.
37160 was the Lynn spare bus today with 37575 sidelined for Volvo attention at Lynn on Thursday.

Tuesday 6th September 2011 ~ I Don't Know How They Do It !

The reliability of the Geminis now seems higher than ever - remarkable when one considers the vast mileages they amass. Failures in service are almost unknown and gaps in the service are almost always caused by traffic delays. Today I didn't see the 12.18 Wisbech to Peterborough (Y13), but it was on time returning east with 37564. That one I can put down to it being on time westbound  (I was late at my vantage post), but this afternoon K18 was an absentee in both directions - it should have been 37572.
L11 was the only service which ran appreciably late today, it was 19 late from Wisbech at 11.37 westbound with 37569. The driver was clearly making an effort though and it was just 10 late coming back.
New ads for more films manifested themselves on the sides of the Geminis today, this time for Warrior and I Don't Know How She Does It ! 37160 was noted in traffic today with just half its Apollo 18 ad remaining on the side and 37157 currently has no advert on the offside which is unusual.
37563 and 37159 were spare at Lynn today after servicing and 37156 was likewise at Lowestoft.


Monday 5th September 2011 ~ Missing Lincs

Yes the second of two days at Long Sutton for me, so thanks to the usual suspects for keeping me informed ! Only one swap today as far as I can ascertain, 37575 on L8 being changed for 37564 fresh off servicing. 37156 remained at Lowestoft today.

Today was the first day of operation of KonectBus route 1 - Watton - Swaffham - King's Lynn, photographed by our man on the spot and also noted on X1 vehicles today was new legal lettering on the side as seen here on 37577

Sunday 4th September 2011 ~ Olympic Cast Offs ?

New vehicles for the X1 which we reported as being in the pipeline, are allegedly going to be initially used for the Olympics in London before transfer ! Well we will see, but several of the B9s are now approaching mileages of 340,000, so something will need to happen before long.
37579 working the 15.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough was 13 late this afternoon while at some point 37566 was changed on K1 for 37157. This evening 37574 was 3 early on the 18.10 ex Peterborough, an unusual occurrence these days. Malcolm reports 37566 working K1 and  37573 arriving on K2. This afternoon 37568 worked K5 and  37572 arrived on K6 before working the 15.10 service 1A to Martham.

Saturday September 3rd 2011 ~ Coachless

A postscript to Friday first of all, it would seem that timekeeping did get a bit chaotic in the afternoon, as Bruce reported  a trio of eastbound X1s passing him as follows : K16 37157 at 16.17 (42 late), K17 with 37158 having replaced 37571 at Lowestoft earlier at 16.24 19 late and then K18 with 37159 at 16.47, 12 late. So three consecutively numbered B7s passed him in a 30 minute period.
Late on Friday evening a 'First' driver from Scotland arrived in King's Lynn and after a Travellodge overnight, he reappeared this morning and took Profile coach 20352 at 06.00 to Aberdeen. This leaves 20115 and 20126 as the only available coaches for X1 work.
Saturday was an all low floor service with some late running at times. Even early on,  K2 and K3 07.35 and 08.05 from Peterborough were already late to the tune of 6 and 7 minutes by Wisbech (37565 & 37564 respectively). A pretty good morning ensued, but by lunch delays were increasing. L9 with 37157 which had been 8 late to Peterborough was 14 late returning, Y10 had 37159 8 late and returning 13 late. K14 with 37577 was 15 late westbound and 10 late returning and even by late afternoon when services are normally more punctual, the 15.48 Wisbech to Peterborough (K1 with 37578) was 15 late and the 15.05 from Peterborough 17 late with 37566.
Spare today were 37158 and 37160 at Lynn and 37156 at Lowestoft. Hitherto not reported was 37158 on Thursday 1st doing a full day's stint on the X2.


Friday September 2nd 2011 ~ Out of the Picture

I was banished to Long Sutton today, but having been informed what was working what early on, I made a list of what I expected to be visible in King's Lynn garage tonight and was (most unusually) spot on. No swaps occurred during the day it would seem with 37569 and 37579 both spare for servicing requirements. At Lowestoft, Malcolm saw 37158 at Gordon Road not in service and says timekeeping was better today. 66959 arrived at Lynn for attention as expected.
37567 arrives at Wisbech as the 05.50 Great Yarmouth to Peterborough this morning.

Thursday 1st September 2011 ~ Visitors

One thing I forgot to mention since the blog returned, is that even though King's Lynn garage now has sole responsibility for maintaining the X1 fleet, the amount of work still doesn't equate to what it was when it operated the local town fleet. It is probably because of this that vehicles from Norwich are now making appearances at Vancouver Avenue for repairs. John W, you may have to come out of retirement !
As reported previously, one of the Routemasters had its MOT carried out here and somewhat surprisingly was actually shown on a recent fleet list as being allocated to King's Lynn. It has gone now though and last week Trident 33235 was present. Currently Wright Eclipse bodied single decker 66959 (once an occasional sight on the X1) is expected.
Rob Brooks also emailed me with a matter we left outstanding. The coach he viewed at Welbourne's yard in Wisbech was  60031 - R346GHS and there was also another white liveried B10M which was not 20102. Rob sent this picture taken from the perimeter fence having been advised that admission to get a closer one would almost certainly be refused.

It is worth mentioning at this point that there is an X1 connection here as withdrawn B10M 20140 was R342GHS.
Back to the X1 today then and this morning several services appeared marginally before time,  these were K5 09.05 from Peterborough with 37568, Y7 08.45 Lynn to Peterborough with 37160 and Y9 11.05 from Peterborough with 37575. By afternoon though delays were occurring. 37157 on L11 was 9 x 10 late at Wisbech, K16 14.35 from Peterborough was 15 late with 37565 and 37566 on K18 was 9 x12 late westbound and eastbound respectively.
At Lowestoft Malcolm reports 37576 arriving 14 minutes late on K2 and departing westbound 10 minutes late, all of which had been recouped by the time I saw it at Wisbech at 16.20. 37159 arrived on time on K3 continues Malcolm and spare vehicle 37158  worked the 14.08 service X2 to Norwich followed by Dart 43465 on the 14.38 service.
Coach 20352 began the day on K3 as usual, but by this evening 37159, fresh off repairs had replaced it. 37574 was spare for servicing at Lynn today and 37577 had its MOT completed.


Wednesday 31st August 2011 ~ Blink and You'll Miss It

Twice today services seemed to go awol from their Wisbech stops. This morning the 09.48 to Peterborough (L8) failed to appear, although it did return just 3 late on the 10.35 from Peterborough with 37563. As a consequence, 37578 on Y9 10.18 westbound from Wisbech was as wedged as I've seen a Gemini, all seats taken. This afternoon, I must have blinked because I definitely missed K19 15.18 to Peterborough - it did appear though eastbound as 37570  6 late for the 16.56 Wisbech to Lowestoft.
All in all, punctuality was less than spectacular today. 37568 on Y7 09.18 Wisbech to Peterborough was 1 early, but after that it was all downhill. 37565 on L11 was 9 late in each direction, then 37156 on K14 managed to be 17 late westbound, however, it had (surprisingly) made up some of this loss to pass through eastbound only 8 late on the 13.35 from Peterborough. K16 14.35 from Peterborough, which is notorious for late running, was 13 late into Wisbech with 37158. K1 westbound was 17 late with 37575 having lost time en route as Malcolm reports it just 2 late from Lowestoft, whereas perversely 37564 on K2 16.18 Wisbech to Peterborough passed me just 2 minutes in arrears, when earlier it had been 16 x 7 late from Lowestoft.  Passengers who missed it had a long wait, as 20352 on K3 was noted passing Bruce's bungalow 36 minutes late and Malcolm reports the coach as being 8 late in and 5 late out of Lowestoft. The added delay may have been down to an accident which affected the Hardwick roundabout. K4 did run too though and 37573 was 9 late, or to put it another way, just 3 minutes behind the Profile.
37566 had started the day on K4, but it had an appoimtment with Marty, the Volvo engineer at Lynn, so 37573 came out to work forward on the 10.02 to Lowestoft. Our man at the wheel, Des Speed says " I was driving 37574 on the 09.25 ex Lowestoft as far as Lynn. Nicely on time until coming out of Norwich, Newmarket Road being down to one lane controlled by auto boards, this made us 4 late at  Easton (11.17), then stop go boards at Toftwood helped to make us -3 at Swaffham (12.10). Arrival in  Lynn was 6 late at 12.43. Heading back east 37160 was on time on K18 17.02 from Lynn to Yarmouth".


Tuesday 30th August 2011 ~ Normality Resumes

Several subtle changes have occurred during the blogs absence. 37569 has had its destination displays changed to the standard large font, this happened around 13th August and leaves 37579 as the only one retaining the narrow font style. Various new ads have appeared including ones for the new films 'One Day' and 'Apollo'. Today a new scheme for 'Team Milk' appeared having been fitted to buses stabled at Lowestoft over the weekend. Noted with this were 37564/567/574.
Back at the office window, punctuality was under the spotlight. Successive departures from Wisbech to Peterborough were bang on time this morning, Y6 had 37573, Y7 was 37160 and L8 37578. Later there were a few delays with 37567 running 9 late on L10 (the 10.48) and Y13 with 37156 10 late on the 12.18. L11 with 37158 lost ten minutes on the western section, 3 late x 13 late returning. 37565 on K14 was 12 late but this had reduced to 8 late on the 13.35 from Peterborough. K15 (37574) was 21 late at the Southgates on the 12.45 from Lynn to Peterborough and later passed Wisbech 13 late on the 14.05 ex Peterborough. As the afternoon progressed, so timings improved.
20352 was once again in use on K3 and it looks as if King's Lynn will miss this vehicle when it departs, such has been its reliability this time round. Not out today were 37577 on MOT prep and 37159 still awaiting repair to its fuel tank. There was a swap at Lowestoft on Y9 which these days is very rare, 37569 was changed for 37566 in order that the latter could be in position at Lynn tomorrow for servicing and attention from Marty the Volvo man.
Because of the Bank Holiday, the servicing requirement at Lynn has become congested. K4 started today with 37157, but this came off at 09.57 for freshly serviced 37572 to work forward enabling 37157 to be dealt with. Y6 then had 37573 due for attention removed for the aforementioned 37157 to take over. 37570 was also serviced today doing the regular 'off maintenance' turn, K5.