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Thursday May 24th - Tuesday May 29th 2012 ~ Displays Again

Now that's just silly !! Photo DS

Thursday 24th May.
I was reminded tonight that on Sunday evening last I had viewed the last westbound service at Walton Highway. 37572 was the bus which loomed out of the darkness proclaiming 'Contract' on the front once again. Attempts have been made this week to exorcise the demons which have caused the malfunctioning destination screen  and tonight I followed 572 home on K19 noticing that its display has been reset to the narrow font which has been absent from the fleet for a while now.
Malcolm had a day out on the X1 and managed to spot every turn apart from Y13 which was 37577 and K14 which had 37570.
Cheryl reports that teatime services were using the Wisbech St. Mary route from Guyhirn following another A47 incident.

Friday 25th May
The rather serious message from the NHS is currently adorning the rears of many of the X1 fleet.
37157 with an advert for an old favourite !

Des informs me that the work at Peterborough rail station which was due to end on 22nd May has now been put back to 31st ! He took L10 13.02 King's Lynn - Lowestoft forward from the Southgates changeover today departing 11 late with 37574 with a slight improvement en route taking him into Lowestoft 8 minutes late. Bruce says "Thought I heard a tractor earlier, but it turned out to be 37158 on Y7 with a very noisy fan".

Saturday 26th May

Well it was such a glorious day that I was able to nip out from my duties as Mum carer to get a few pix for the blog :
During the next week or so 37563 will pass the 400,000 mile mark on the X1. Here it leaves Walpole Highway on K15 09.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough today.
37575 heads for King's Lynn near Faulkner's Tunnel this morning on L11.

37156 pretending to be a B9 takes K16 through Walpole this afternoon.
Heading back east on the 14.35 from Peterborough, this view shows the way the revised paint scheme has been applied to the rear of the B7.

More delays on the route today, Mr. Speed was on Y10 westbound with 37568 on time (yes honestly) and returned east in charge of 37159 on Y7 which was 23 late from the Southgates and 18 late into Yarmouth. a good effort to regain time in view of the fact it was a Saturday. News of Y7s delay had already been relayed to me by Bruce who texted saying "37159 on Y7 just gone by at 11.33 (27 late) with 37565 on L8 just 12 minutes behind".
Dave Hodkinson says "I had my first experience of the X1 service on Saturday evening with a mate of mine. We ended up at Yarmouth station off the 1450 duff from Norwich, picked up his car, left it at the B and B and walked to Acle station for the 1728 to Norwich. After some time the signaller advised that all trains were caped due to signalling problems, however, a quick walk to the bus stop revealed a 1757 X1 'fast' to Naaridge bus stn. I have to say that's about as far as I would want to go on a Gemini : what a rancid slow bus, and no air conditioning either! For the record it was 37575". 

Now before you all think that Dave's report amounts to a slagging off, let me explain that this is Dave in genteel mode and this is actually an endorsement of the service. Now had he been in a bad mood.........
Anyway, he did manage to take a pic for us, though I have to confess I find the destination a little confusing - why was 575 only going as far as Norwich (it was supposed to be working L11 through to Lynn) ?

Sunday 27th May
37572 with its narrow font destination display reinstated passing Boskoop Farm this afternoon on the 13.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft.

Kieran says Dereham Market Place will be closed for a Jubilee party next Sunday with X1s stopping near the roundabout instead. 37160 enjoyed a third succesive day in King's Lynn garage and both 37566 & 37570 were off the road for servicing this weekend. Today's service was a succession of B9 Geminis.

Monday 28th May

Malcolm Hicks reports former X1 B10M Premiere coach 20109 on driver training duties in Lowestoft today.
Victor Meldrew has been let loose at the computer again and writes
"Dear Mr Fletcher,
How about some of these new Norfolk Green double deckers for X1?.... "under-seat mood lighting and new comfy seating" - someone should tell First Group that such buses exist!
I was going to suggest we get Mr Coulson to take over the X1 service and equip it with his excellent new vehicles, but spotted a couple of problems....
- we wouldn't get to experience the "mood lighting" as Norfolk Green seems to stop operating most services mid-afternoon!
- Norfolk Green probably don't issue VIP passes (lol)
On a more serious note, it's good to see that Norfolk Green's timetabled stops are updated more frequently than First Group's. On the NG56 timetable they very quickly renamed their stop "Elm High Road for Morrisons", whereas about 10 years after the closure of the local 'restaurant', First Group still insist on calling their Guyhirn stop "Guyhirn Little Chef"!
I can understand they might not want to call it "Guyhirn Sex Shop" but something like "Guyhirn A47 Shell Garage" might be a little more up-to-date / helpful?"
Victor Meldrew
Well he's certainly out to ruffle a few feathers I reckon ! Now as it happens Victor, I have it on good authority (ok - rumour actually) that the X1 WILL be receiving new buses after the Olympics with upgraded facilities, so just hold your horses. As for Norfolk Green and evening services, why only tonight I saw one of their ex Reading double deckers heading out on the 505 at 19.45, mind you it was only going as far as Holbeach, so let's be fair shall we ?

Tuesday 29th May

Peter says " Out on the X1 this morning with the 08.18 Wisbech - Peterborough (K5). It's 37157 with a very polite driver but with the heating on full blast !". Gosh Peter you are almost as bad as Victor !! Now if you'd checked your blog history, you would realise that 37157 is the one bus which provides heat at any time of year - even in the Winter. L11 was running late this morning with 37158 - on its way back from Peterborough it was away from the Southgates driver change at 13.53 - about 16 late. 37570 enjoyed a fourth day on the trot resting at King's Lynn garage.


Monday May 14th - Wednesday May 23rd 2012 ~ Snoozy Blog

37576 with new side advert for Belvita breakfast biscuits
The X1 has really been behaving itself lately, hence the infrequent blog entries. The same 22 vehicles have been travelling east and west with only minor hitches, this must be a tribute to the mechanical care these buses receive and casualties seem very infrequent.
Probably the most unusual sighting over this period was not on the X1 at all, but that of Wright Eclipse bodied single decker 66165 on the 13.38 Lowestoft - Norwich X2 on Monday 14th.
On Monday 14th John Phillips gives a cheery wave from the upper deck of 37159 working K18 10.55 Lowestoft - Peterborough.
Wednesday 16th saw an overtaking move when 37576 on K17 and 37159 on K18 managed to swap turns. During the morning Malcolm saw 37159 arrive in Lowestoft 'not in service' at 10.40 with 37576 arriving ten minutes later, 37159 then departed as K18 at 10.55 only for it eventually to get overtaken by 37576 at some point. 37575 had its MOT completed on Thursday 17th and it was immediately returned to traffic replacing 37160 on K18 which had been involved in a minor skirmish damaging some side panels.
37564 heads into Wisbech running 7 late on Y13 11.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough on Thursday 17th May.
[Photo : Ros McLean]

 Friday 18th seemed to pass without incident, but on Saturday 19th, 37574 expired on K16 during the afternoon with a coolant leak. 37160 freshly repaired took up its turn.
37565 is one of a number of Geminis exhibiting an advert for Milk featuring a rather threatening looking Vinnie Jones ! Photographed by Kieran Smith on Saturday it was working L8 10.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft seen passing the Coachmakers Arms in Norwich.
 Another unscheduled swap occurred on Sunday 20th when the first bus from Lowestoft only reached Great Yarmouth before it had to be changed due to passenger illness. 37563 was taken off and replaced by 37572. On Monday 37577 was taken off K2 for unknown reasons, 37564 replaced that one. 37579 remained out of service at King's Lynn having last worked on Thursday.
K2 was again the subject of a swap on Tuesday with 37578 being replaced by 37577, but at Thorney of all places. It is not known whether this was a morning or afternoon event. Finally Wednesday 23rd saw K4 encounter a major delay - it was viewed at Walpole Highway at 10.06 with 37563 leading me to think it was K5. I was soon proved wrong when I met 37156 near Walton Highway running 5 late on the real K5. 37563 was of course K4 running 30 late. 37160 was available to take K4 forward from Lynn at 10.02. This was about the only big delay noticed in the period under review and most other services ran near to time today.
Thanks to all the usual suspects for keeping me informed of events during this prolonged period where the X1 is diverted from passing my window. The road reopens at the end of June, but is at the moment only passable in the westbound direction, though X1 drivers seem to be quite content with the diversion via the A1101. Finally Des Speed has returned refreshed form a walking holiday in Cumbria - well refreshed was not the word he used ! - and has sent me this picture of a reliveried Bristol to Weston X1 ...


Sunday May 6th - Sunday May 13th 2012 ~ Is He On Strike ?

Yes apologies for the lack of blogs again, all due to my Mum being poorly, but let's not go there - she is improving I'm glad to say. Fortunately from an X1 point of view, it has all been very uneventful. The same old Geminis doing the same old turns.
Meanwhile, I had an email from one Victor Meldrew who posted me a vintage timetable from the year 2000 no less and I thought it only polite to repost it here for you, it certainly shows how times have changed :
Superb modern coaches hey ? RIP the Beast.
Gosh it's that nice young Mr. Woodhouse chauffering all the X94 passengers, if you are lucky you might get him driving your X1 next time but I'm sure he wont mind me saying he might look a bit older !

Well many thanks to Victor for that blast from the past and of course it is accompanied by a good old moan :- He says "Dear Mr Fletcher

What on earth is all this nonsense in your column about the new X1 timetable? Twice as many buses going westbound as there are eastbound... this simply did not happen back in the late 70s when I worked for the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company Limited.

Please make up your mind whether the service is X1, X2, X3, X4 or X5 - we never used to confuse people travelling between Peterborough and Norwich in my day - well, OK, we did have the 337 if you wanted to go via Beloe Crescent or the 336 if you didn't, and the 34, 34a, 34b or 34c depending on which villages you fancied travelling through.

And please pull your finger out and publish the excellent X94 timetable I sent you from the days when the X1 was a proper express service with none of this ridiculous stopping outside every house on the Toftwood Estate. What will you do next - divert the X1 via Walpole St Peter with a stop on School Lane? That will be curtons (sic) for the service! And take a closer look at the X94 leaflet. "Friendly drivers"... they didn't tell you they were running non-stop from Peterborough to King's Lynn causing a 90 minute gap in the service to Wisbech.
A full refund if the service was late... First Group seem to have conveniently dropped this one. And I won't mention the service was operated by lovely air conditioned coaches with proper (i.e. NO) interior lighting at night! Those were the days!

Yours grumpily


Heavens, what can you say to that ? What a miserable old specimen he is. I bet he will even find something to moan about if we eventually get buses with leather seats and wi-fi !
Let's have a quick look at what's been going on in 2012 since my last post.
Sunday & Monday 6th/7th saw the usual hourly service for Sundays/Bank Holidays. Nothing other than the usual B9 Geminis, but a slight panic ensued at Yarmouth when 37563 refused to start. Only three buses are required from here on the hourly service, so at least  there was time for repairs to take place. In the end Richard had to phone through with instructions to Yarmouth to get it back on the road successfully - all caused by something computerised and electrical as one might expect. Sunday saw diversions in operation at Lynn to allow the Great East Anglian Run to take place. Des reports being 20 late at South Gates roundabout on the 11.35 to Lowestoft (37568). The service was 11 late at its destination. He adds "Did you know?
The circumference of the earth at the equator is 24,901.55 miles (40,075.16 kilometres), so as of 07.50 on Sunday 6/5/12, bus 37567 had travelled the equivalent of 16.27 times around the equator!!!! Or 1678.1 return X1 journeys!!!". 
and you all thought I was sad !!
Kieran adds "Did you know that the 'Mad March Fares' promotion has now been extended until May ? So its Mad March, April & May Fares now !"
On Tuesday 8th, 37563 was sent out on Y13, but it was removed at Lynn for examination and 37564 worked forward. 37159 & 37575 were spare at Lynn, although the former was sidelined with a brake caliper problem. Malcolm reports former King's Lynn mini Darts 43357/8 now being used on the new X22 service from Lowestoft to Beccles - now that's a Go Ahead move for 'First' lol. He also noted 32211 on the 14.10 Norwich - Lowestoft X2 with 34156 going the other way on the 14.28 departure. 
Wednesday 9th saw most services running to time. A series of swaps took place all starting when 37159 on K18 was involved in a rear end collision not long after starting out. Damage was minor, but it meant that 37156 had to replace it. In the end this in turn was changed for 37158 meaning that K18 had three different B7s at various points today. L12 & K15 had 37566 & 37576 change places during the day. At Lowestoft the X2 saw Palatines still in use, 34155 was on the 11.08 and 34156 on the 17.23 to Norwich. Y6 arrived 15 late with 37573 and departed 7 late on the 14.25 to Peterborough.
On Thursday 10th I only saw one X1 service and this was K1 with 37572 seen 13 late at Walpole Highway on the 15.33 to Peterborough. 37575/6 & 37159 were the buses not used today.
Friday 11th was remarkable for some excellent timekeeping. A swap on L11 saw 37570 replaced by 37578. Repairs to 37159 continued and 37576 was stopped for servicing and repairs. L10 had 37160 which meant a refuelling exercise had to take place, the first time this has happened for a while. Surprises on the X2 viewed by Malcolm were 30886 on the 11.08, 32211 on the 10.10 ex Norwich and 30887 on the 15.03.
Saturday 12th saw another smooth operating timetable, though the usual Saturday 10 minute delays were in evidence at times. 37569/70 were in Lynn garage and late on 37566 on K17 was changed at Lowestoft for 37564 off K14 after cleaning was necessary on the former. Even the X2 had settled down with 32651/4/5/6 all being noted in use.
Sunday 13th saw 37571 on K5 being changed at the coast for 37156 - always unusual to get a B7 operating on a Suunday.
Thanks to all my regular correspondents for gen this week, especially Bruce, Des, Cheryl & Malcolm.


Timetable Traumas

A new X1 timetable came in to use on April 1st (!!) which includes the new stops in Dereham and Toftwood. It would seem it has already had to be reprinted. The first version had a service on Bank Holidays and Sundays where buses were leaving Lowestoft for Peterborough on the half hour and returning from Peterborough hourly. As one of our correspondents exclaimed "Where are all the buses going to ?". This has been corrected in more recent days - the service should of course be hourly.

Kieran says "I can't understand what has happened with the X1 timetable - On Sundays the service number headings have gone berserk with successive services being numbered X1, X2, X3, X4 and X5 before reverting to X1. This does not seem to have been corrected yet".
I suppose at least the timings are correct and I daresay most users would realise that it is a printing error.

Monday April 30th - Saturday May 5th 2012 ~ A Tale of Two Lorries

Well so much for a daily blog ! Never mind, here's a catch up of recent events of which there have been few. Firstly thanks to Des, Kieran and Peter for pointing out that due to building work at Peterborough railway station from April 30th to May 22nd, all X1 services will be starting and terminating at the bus station.

Monday April 30th

All set for a new week then, but the A47 woes struck again this morning. A broken down lorry on Guyhirn Bank in the morning rush hour caused disruption. Cheryl and Peter were on Y6 08.48 Wisbech - Peterborough (05.50 ex Great Yarmouth) and were diverted via Wisbech St. Mary. Here they met K3 running late with 37572. Bruce spotted K4 with 37577 and K5 with 37157 both returning from Peterborough but only around 5 late, so it looks like the diversion worked well, even if the road is a bit the worse for wear now. At lunchtime, Y13 11.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough was 37576 running 17 late, however,by the time it arrived back at the Southgates on the 13.05 from Peterborough it had regained quite a chunk of time and was just 4 late.
37574 had a quick visit to Volvo at Norwich today for repairs, but was back at King's Lynn by this evening.

Tuesday May 1st 

All set for a new month then, but the A47 woes struck early on. A broken down lorry on Guyhirn Bank in the morning rush hour caused disruption.................................Hang On, haven't we been here before ?? This time it would seem, a diversion had not been set up and Samantha passed three X1s on her way from March to Wisbech. One of these was Y6 (37579) with Cheryl on board, once past the blockage she reported passing Thorney Toll 35 late. Bruce was monitoring services returning from Peterborough and saw K3 with 37573 12 late, K4 with 37570 just 9 late and  K5 was 37574 running 23 late. At lunchtime I met 37565 on L10 11.35 from Peterborough running 27 late at Walpole Highway followed closely behind by L11 at Walton Highway with  37575 on time. Y13 continued its poor timekeeping with 37569 15 late at Walpole on the 11.45 ex Lynn.
37158 was stopped at Vancouver Avenue for a windscreen repair this morning and talking of the garage, Y9,  L12, K16, K17, K18 & K19 departures to Peterborough all came from this direction - seen on SG Webcam - so may be driver changes were taking place at the depot for some reason, rather than the South Gates stop.
37563 had an adblue problem at Swaffham while working Y9 at 13.00 and was replaced by 37572 (seen by Malcolm at Lowestoft).
Des says "Now the lighter nights are here, thought I'd have a go at getting a few pictures around Gorleston for you, here are this evening's efforts" :

Wednesday May 2nd
Now come on, you weren't really expecting another morning with a lorry broken down ? Today things seemed to run smoothly throughout. 37563 remained out of service with its adblue fault, Cheryl was waiting for K2 17.05 from Peterborough at Thorney tonight when it turned up with 37572 proclaiming 'Contract' on the destination screen. 37160 had a busy day, it worked Y7 and was then cleaned before being required to take over K4 at 19.35 to Lowestoft from 37575.
37575 on K4 at Walpole Highway before it was later replaced by 37160.

Thursday May 3rd

K2 swapped 37567 for 37568 today at some point. 37572 was viewed in the deluge working L8 with a blank destination screen. Everything else behaved - strange or what ?

Friday May 4th

37572 was again destination-less today, seen on Y13 at lunchtime going nowhere (well Lowestoft actually).
K5 had 37567 to Peterborough and back where an injector fault saw 37569 take over and 37563 was battered back into shape to take K15 at 12.45 from Lynn enabling 37579 to be stopped for servicing. The lucky bus having a complete day off was 37577 which was due for a safety service.
Malcolm saw an unusual sight on the X2 when the 11.08 departure from Lowestoft was little Dart 42451.
37572 Destination Unknown !

Saturday May 5th

I didn't see much today, but while out just before lunch I decided to hang about to view L8 & L12 which should cross near Walpole. 37575 came along first running 10 late on L12 and eventually L8 turned up from Peterborough with 37565 running 17 late. By this evening L8 had recovered all this time and more, being noted at Terrington 3 early on the 20.10 from Peterborough. 37578 on Y6 was 10 late into Lowestoft says Malcolm. Since Tuesday there have been no episodes of refuelling B7s at Lynn as they have all been rostered on the shorter turns, so well done those who made it happen.
Kieran spent some time at Norwich bus station observing the X1s today - here are some of his pictures for which many thanks.

Norwich Bus Station sees 37573 pause for passengers while working the 11.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough (K19).  Photo : Kieran Smith

37577 working K1 11.55 Lowestoft - Peterborough at Norwich. [K. Smith]

B7 Gemini 37160 currently running without a front fleet number departs from Norwich as Y7 10.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft [K.Smith]
B9s 37576 & 37565 are both unable to be fitted with T side adverts at present. Here 37565 calls at Norwich on L8 10.35 from Peterborough, by now running on time (see report above). [Kieran Smith]
37566 gets away from Norwich Bus Station on the 12.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough (K2). [K. Smith]


Friday April 27th - Sunday April 29th 2012 ~ A Little Report

It is quite nice when the X1 behaves from an old bloggers point of view. That pretty much sums up the past few days :
Friday 27th April
37571/578 appear to have been the spare buses today as everything else was seen in service. Timekeeping seemed very good for a Friday, for example K1 and K3 were at the Southgates inbound from Lowestoft at 15.04 and 16.05 which is pretty much on time. L11 12.05 from Peterborough was 13 late at Walton Highway with 37565 and K14 was seen with 37577 passing the Southgates coming in from Peterborough at 15.00, around 11 late.
Something odd happened with L8 today, it was 37574 into Lynn from Lowestoft at 09.00, but was later seen at Lowestoft by Malcolm with 37568 arriving 8 late, then this evening it was back to being 37574 again, presumably having taken over for the 18.50 Lynn - Peterborough.

Saturday 28th April

The B7 turns are usually fairly predictable on weekdays. K3, K5, Y7 or Y9, L11, K14, K16 and K18 are the favourites as these can be accomplished on a full tank of fuel. Sometimes though they end up on L10, L12 or Y13 and this entails refuelling at Lynn during the day. If both K14 and K16 which finish at Lowestoft get a B7 this invariably means that next day, one will be required to refuel as all the Lowestoft originating turns are long ones except L11. On Saturdays the diagrams are slightly different and K1 finishes at Lowestoft instead of Yarmouth, consequently it is very often a B7 and today 37156 did this turn.
At peak times today, delays were up to 15 minutes, but by late afternoon things had eased. Only two turns are  believed to have changed vehicles, L11 started out with 37572, but later this was on L12. 37564 came off L12 and 37563 is thought to have taken L11 forward.

Sunday 29th April

37574 was in trouble this afternoon on K5. It had an electrical fault and was replaced by 37563. All services were B9s today.
For all you number crunchers out there, we haven't had a look at the mileages on the X1 vehicles for many a while. Here's how they are fairing (mileages as of this evening)
37572 418700
37579 415100
37575 413200
37578 408500
37574 408100
37573 406700
37570 405800
37567 403600
37565 395100
37576 393800
37568 393400
37564 389300
37563 388600
37569 386400
37577 372500
37566 368700
37157 356300
37160 350700
37158 332500
37159 325800
37156 320500
37571 268300

Incredibly, the difference between 37572 in first place and 37566 in 16th is 50,000 miles ! As we have said before may be 566 was built on a Friday afternoon. 37571 actually has 299,300 on the clock but this is incorrect as after it returned from accident repairs it was fitted with a replacement speedo which had 31,000 more miles registered !!! Reduced mileages for buses which have spent prolonged periods out of service are evident, particularly with 37156 and 37577 as well as of course, 37571. Finally just to note that 37572 being the highest mileage Gemini and 37571 the lowest have a mere 150,000 miles between them.

Watch out for some timetable anomalies in my next blog ..........