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Monday November 19th - Sunday November 25th 2012 ~ The Census !

A fairly typical week on the X1 with nothing ground breaking happening - unless you know different !
Monday 19th was my day off, but Bruce kept a look out and the service seemed to run well. Sidelined buses were 37156 (ABS fault), 37569 (whellhub and panels) and 37564 (safety service and gearbox fault). This meant everything else had to behave and it looks like that's what happened.
Tuesday was one of those dark dismal days which have been prevalent lately. Punctuality was sporadic with some services running up to 10 minutes late and with Y6-XL12 05.50 from Great Yarmouth (37572) seen leaving Wisbech 16 late westbound and 10 late returning, while the afternoon's poor performer was K17-XL04 13.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough which was 16 late with 37579. At Lowestoft K15-XL02 was seen arriving by Malcolm 20 late with 37570 and this then departed 12 late westbound.
 I had to go to Peterborough myself this afternoon, so took the X1 (why would anyone take the car I sometimes wonder). 37575 was my transport on K19-XL06 which ran pretty close to time and I came back on K2-XL08 with 37563 - I had expected 37573 but this had been changed at Lynn to fit in servicing requirements. I timed the journey back out of interest to see how the bus fared in the evening peak. We were dead on time away from Queensgate at 17.19 and left the City via Bourges Boulevard and the northern bypass. This was a good move since I had arrived via the Boongate route where temporary lights were in operation for roadworks and this would have caused a lot of congestion in the peak. Nothing untoward hindered us greatly with just the usual rush hour traffic one would expect at 17.30 and we joined the alternative route at Eye in 11 minutes from the bus station. We did however, totter along between the roundabouts from Eye to Eye Green and this short section took us 3.5 minutes.
 Our arrival at Thorney was in a few seconds under 20 minutes, so the peak time traffic had succeeded in us losing 5 minutes on the schedule. Stops at Thorney School, Thorney Toll and Guyhirn to deposit passengers didn't lose us any more time and we were still 5 down from Guyhirn. An average run down the A47 and through the outskirts of Wisbech saw us arrive in the bus station in 43'17" from Peterborough - the booked time is 37", so a loss of just over 6 minutes on the timetable about which there was nothing whatsoever the driver or the capabilities of the bus could have done to improve. 37156 was back on the road today on K3-XL09 after its recent misdemeanours.
37157 ready to be washed after another filthy day on the A47
There seems to be at least one day each week where the A47 grinds to a halt due to either accidents or roadworks, but on Wednesday morning it was the fault of Norfolk County Council who had acted on someones bright idea to carry out a traffic census on the eastern approaches to Norwich. All manner of chaos resulted with queues of 50 minutes being reported at one stage until the census was abandoned. Naturally the X1 service was embroiled in all this, but the powers that be kept calm and minimum effects were felt at the western end of the route. My observations coupled with those by Bruce, show that the first service delayed was Y9-XL15 with 37158 - this departed from Wisbech heavily loaded running 32 minutes late - the obvious thing for the operators to do was to then run this service as L10-XL16 and this they duly did. The bus which had come in to King's Lynn on L10 was then terminated and kept to work Y9 back eastbound at 12.32 - 'simples' as our friends the meerkats would say. Delays began to accumulate at Lowestoft too, noted by Malcolm Hicks were 37567 leaving 10 late on K15-XL02 then K16-XL03 arriving 18 late with 37573 and this left 15 late to Peterborough on the 09.55. K17 arrived with 37575 'not in service' at 10.27 to work the 10.25 departure. Elsewhere on the route, K4-XL10 08.35 from Peterborough was delayed en route and came into Wisbech 22 late with 37569 and later 37572 on L12-XL18 was 14 late going west. K16-XL03 was 37573 13 late westbound but things then settled down. 37565 on K3-XL09 16.15 from King's Lynn was seen at Walsoken running exactly 30 late followed by K4-XL10 and 37569 which had recouped most of its morning loss, now 7 late. Earlier 37574 on K17-XL04 had come to a halt in Dereham with a water leak and 37575 was sent out to take over. A tacho fault on 37576 saw it make an early morning trip to Volvo at Norwich for rectification.
This evening I travelled from Walpole to King's Lynn on 37569, now back on time. Returning I boarded L10-XL16 -still with 37158 from the morning's swap and departing South Gates spot on time, we then diverted into Vancouver Avenue garage for fuel. This cost us about 4 minutes but our driver seemed intent on doing what he could with 37158 to make up (or at least lose no more) time. It was pleasantly warm on 37158 in contrast to the damp interior of 37569.
Thursday was much better for timekeeping and only two of the 19 turns seen were running appreciably late. L11-XL17 with 37579 was 15 late on the 11.18 Wisbech - Peterborough and later 37564 on the 14.18 (K17-XL04) passed me 19 late. 37159 was removed from Y9-XL15 with a fault this morning and 37565 replaced it, while K16-XL03 had a lunchtime swap at Lynn with 37574 replacing 37575,  but otherwise things ran well.
Roadworks on the King's Lynn bypass saw one carriageway reduced to a single lane on Friday and the Southgates webcam revealed L11-XL17 with 37158 emerging from the South Lynn exit onto the roundabout having taken this route to avoid the delays. It was seen at 13.32, the time that it should have been leaving the bus station for Lowestoft. 20 minutes later, another B7 on a test run from the garage was seen arriving back via this route. 37571 came off K16 at lunchtime for servicing with 37575 replacing it. Most services ran pretty well today, but 37568 on Y13-XL19 which had been 4 late going west was delayed after this and came back into Wisbech 23 late to work the 13.56 Wisbech - Lowestoft. Similarly 37569 on K17-XL04 was 7 late going to Peterborough, but 17 late coming back and 37156 on K18-XL05 had lost the same amount of time too. A47 accidents and dismal conditions resulted in K4 with 37578 being 17 late on the 16.45 Lynn - Peterborough. There didn't appear to be any bus swaps today.
The Saturday service ran very well until late afternoon when a blip saw 37572 on K17-XL04 come into Wisbech 17 late from Peterborough and the 15.48 westbound (K1-XL07) with 37158 was 21 late. Otherwise a commendable effort by all concerned. 37159 has had to go to Volvo at Norwich after suffering engine failure and 37569 & 37571 were the two spare buses today.
37577 about to get an early bath on Sunday evening (see below)
Sunday 25th saw an unfortunate incident befall 37577 when it was working the Sunday XL01 diagram. It was the victim of a vandal attack with a rock hurled through the upper deck rear window near Dereham. Nobody was injured as luck would have it and 37570 and later 37156 took over the turn. 37579 working XL10 was seen arriving at the South Gates at 13.01. This turn is notorious for late running in from Lowestoft. It then works the 12.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough.


Friday November 9th - Sunday November 18th 2012 ~ Cracks Appearing ?

The past week has seen much swapping of buses chiefly due to unexpected defects, though it is fair to say that this has not had too detrimental effect on the timetable. The B9 Geminis have been incredibly reliable over the past 4 years and have exemplified the faith which First Group put in them. Nevertheless, signs of age are now beginning to appear.
Going back firstly then to Friday 9th and 37156 was in trouble on L11-XL17 when it's alternator packed up at Blofield, for a while causing an obstruction and meriting an announcement on Radio Norfolk's traffic news. 37571 was sent out as replacement and completed the turn. 37569 on K15-XL02 managed to do most of its diagram before it suffered a water leak and 37160 off K16-XL03 took over for the last leg back to King's Lynn from Lowestoft. The day's delays were up to ten minutes at times, but nothing too serious and relatively good for a Friday. 37570 was switched from Y6-XL12 to K5-XL11 to get it in the circuit for an exam at King's Lynn on Monday. 37565 took Y6 forward at 08.15 and 37571 came off K5 at 10.30. Both 37563 and 37578 had repairs completed by the Volvo man today. At Lowestoft 34155 was being used on the 09.38 X2 to Norwich.
Saturday 10th saw 37563 back in service taking Y6-XL12 forward from Lynn to Peterborough at 17.45 in place of 37574 (believed to be because of a broken window). L11-XL11 changed 37569 for 37156 at some point today. Otherwise little of note to report as was the case on Sunday.

The new week began on Monday 12th with a reasonable day for punctuality, but wet misty conditions may have contributed to an accident mid afternoon which saw some services diverted via Tilney All Saints to avoid the obstruction on the Pullover Road. K19-XL06 & 37563 and also K1-XL07 with 37579 were 12 late from Wisbech followed by K2-XL08 and 37578 running 17 late. Earlier 37568 was 10 late on K15-XL02 13.18 Wisbech - Peterborough, but made up some time and went back east only 3 late. It had obviously been delayed early on as Malcolm reports it arriving in Lowestoft 13 late before working the 09.25 to Peterborough.  A whole host of new advertisements have adorned the fleet today for the films 'Nativity 2', 'Silver Linings'. 'Alex Cross' and 'Great Expectations'.
Ironically, the latter is now on 37575 which passed me (below) running 8 late on L8-XL14 09.48 Wisbech - Peterborough following a no-show by Y7-XL13, which later came back from Peterborough as booked with 37577. Neither Bruce or myself saw it going west so I guess it must have travelled light from Lynn to Peterborough for some reason.
 Y9-XL15 came into Lynn from the east this morning with 37565 and this was changed here for 37157. Shortly afterwards though 37567 on L12-XL18 required changing as it had an adblu fault and 37565 ended up on this turn.
 Another casualty on Tuesday 13th was 37564 which came to grief in Great Yarmouth while working L10-XL16 eastbound - binding brakes caused by a seized rear caliper being the cause. This evening 37157 took its place on the 19.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough. Earlier K1-XL07 which had started out with 37566 had this replaced by 37157 commencing with the 10.02 Lynn - Lowestoft. On arrival back at Lynn at just after 16.30, 37566 was fit to resume the turn. Tuesday was a  good day for punctuality only spoilt by the B7s ! 37156 had already been delayed by heavy loadings further east when Des took it forward from King's Lynn at 09.50 as Y9-XL15. Departure was 15  minutes late and on arrival in Peterborough it went straight to the rail station to drop/ pick up. Going back east it was just 7 late from Queensgate and 5 late back into Lynn, so well done that man !
 The aforementioned  adblu fault kept 37567 out of service but it was due a safety service anyway. Both 37569 & 37577 had attention to water leaks before they could start the day on K4-XL10 and K19-XL06 respectively.The last two X1 buses to sport the controversial Stonewall advert , 37564 & 37568, both had them removed today. I say controversial as apparently according to online news sources a driver in Yorkshire refused to take a bus forward because of the ad !
 Timekeeping on Wednesday was fair, nothing in excess of 12 minutes lateness being recorded and there were no swaps which is good to report. 34155 was once again in use, this time on the 14.38 Lowestoft - Norwich X2.
So to Thursday 15th when I was away from the route working at a polling station. Bruce gave a full report and nothing untoward seems to have happened, save the no show by L10-XL16. This evening it was 37563 as booked, so not sure what happened there. K4-XL10 had 37573 for most of the day, but this evening it was in Vancouver Avenue so clearly did not work the 19.35 King's Lynn - Great Yarmouth. At Lowestoft Malcolm saw 37577 arrive 12 late on K15-XL02 and today 34155 was employed on the 09.08 X2.
Friday was hit and miss for punctuality. most services ran fairly well, the exceptions being 37577 on K5-XL11 09.05 ex Peterborough which had lost 19 minutes by Wisbech. 37160 on L11-XL17 was 14 late on the 11.18 Wisbech - Peterborough and 37564 on L12-XL18 was 22 late, reduced commendably to 15 late returning eastbound. K14-XL01 which is notorious on a Friday came through eastbound 14 late with 37567. Later in the afternoon 37159 was 18 late on K18-XL05 14.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough, 37563 13 late on K1-XL07 15.15 and 37566 13 late on K2-XL08 15.45 from Lynn. 37157 had a good day for a change - it was spot on schedule with K3-XL09 08.56 Wisbech - Lowestoft and only 4 late on the return leg this afternoon. Further east, 37572 was 20 late arriving in Lowestoft on K17-XL04 this morning, so had done well to be only 4 late when seen by me at Wisbech later on.
37156 was intended to work K5-XL11 this morning, but it was stopped with an ABS modulator fault, so 37577 deputised - possibly the reason for its lateness (see above). Later on 37563 on K1-XL07 required cleaning, so 37156 took the 18.02 King's Lynn to Great Yarmouth . A couple of accidents on route tonight meant a few turns changed buses, in addition to which, 37573 which had arrived at King's Lynn at 18.07 (Y7-XL13) was then cleaned and turned out again for the 18.50 to Peterborough (L8-XL14) in place of 37564 which had a gearbox fault.

Oh Dear ! 37156 suffered a recurrence of its ABS fault on Saturday morning, so 37579 was driven over to Great Yarmouth at some early hour, in order to work Y13-XL19. Not sure if a coach would have worked, had this movement not had taken place.
37579 dashes through Walpole Highway almost on time on Y13-XL19 this lunchtime.
37569 was in Vancouver Avenue having some panels replaced and repainted today. Timekeeping was fair, though I'm not sure if the Norwich v Manchester United match at 17.30 would have caused extra congestion this evening. By the way did I mention the score ?  :+)
Finally to Sunday then and 37572 was noted heading to Peterborough 16 late this afternoon by Bruce. 37577 on XL06 which normally works the Martham service on arrival in Lowestoft, instead came back on XL08 instead of 37565. It was a busy day for unscheduled swaps with L10-XL10 changing 37568 for 37567 this afternoon and similarly XL07 having 37578 taken off in preference to 37570.
This rather timely NHS advert is now being applied to some of our buses.


Wednesday October 31st - Thursday 8th November 2012 ~ Service Report

To begin our round-up looking at the past ten days, we start with the last day of October. Many buses ran between 5 & 10 minutes late on this date. 37565 was once again involved in diagram swaps. It started on K5-XL11 but then came off at 10.30 after just doing a Lynn to Peterborough and back. It then had another trip over this section standing in for 37577 on L12-XL18, but the latter was fit to resume the turn at 14.02 and 565 retired to Vancouver Avenue. 37571 which came into Lynn on L10-XL16 at 10.07 was then turned round to continue on K5 back east at 10.32.
Cheryl says - "Did you know that the bus ticket now has the bus fleet number on it ? This morning though, my ticket said 37570, but the bus was 37564.
Best / Worst punctuality : 37573 on L10-XL16 a few seconds early on 10.48 Wisbech - Peterborough followed later by  37565 on L12-XL18 11.18 running 11 late.
Thursday 1st November
Y6-XL12 09.35 from Peterborough came into Wisbech almost 2 minutes early this morning with 37564 and it was quite an unpredictable day for timekeeping. L12-XL18 with 37569 was 8 late from Southgates on the 11.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough, but delays en route made it 14 late from Wisbech. 37579 was back having been out of service since Sunday with a recurrence of its water system problem. It worked K3-XL09 today.
Over at Lowestoft, Malcolm reports 32651, 32654 and 34155 at the garage whilst Palatine 34156 was active on the 12.40 X2 from Norwich.
Friday 2nd November,
37577 runs into Great Yarmouth on K3-XL09 this lunchtime.  Photo courtesy of Jamie Armstrong.
I was absent today, but Bruce kept his eye on things for me. Y6-XL12 changed buses, starting out with 37578 and finishing with 37160. L8-XL14 began with 37575 and 37578 then replaced this. Des reported a slight delay at Middleton this morning after a pick up truck had embedded itself into a lamppost. 34156 was working the 14.08 X2 out of Lowestoft.
Saturday 3rd November
Surprisingly after a period of stability, 37160 on L9-XL15 failed today with an alternator fault and with 37563 (injector sleeves) and 579 (water) stopped and 37158 requiring servicing, the service appears to have been cancelled at Lynn resulting in the 15.55 Lowestoft - King's Lynn producing the rare sight of Paragon coach 20515. Another B7 in trouble today was 37157 which had a 10 minute late departure from Gorleston on Y10-XL16 07.15 to Peterborough after its offside headlight blew. The bus had to be powered down to have a replacement fitted and on powering up afterwards, the ticket machine failed and had to be removed and reset. Earlier 37571 on Y6-XL12 had arrived in Lowestoft 15 late.
Sunday 4th November
Richrd Tucker's (at times seemingly one man) crusade to maintain a low floor service on the X1 saw coach 20515 returned empty to Great Yarmouth this morning. The X1 service itself was entirely B9 Gemini worked. Norwich bus station was once again closed for roof repairs with all buses entering from Surrey Street and using bays 14 & 15 then exiting via Queens Road. This reminds me  that I recently had an email from Pat asking why the X1 doesn't exit Norwich via the railway station. I couldn't answer her but assume it is a matter of it taking longer ? Peterborough bus station also has ongoing work and from tomorrow until Saturday, the X1 is using bays 5 & 17, then the week after bays10 & 20 for alighting and boarding passengers respectively.
Monday 5th November
Better timekeeping today. 37570 worked L10-XL16 but 37158 deputised for the trip from King's Lynn to Peterborough and back. K1-XL07 had 37574 swapped for a repaired 37579 at some point. This evening there were two swaps with 37577 coming in on Y7-XL13 at 18.10 but after cleaning it took over K4-XL10 at 19.35 to Great Yarmouth in place of 37564. L11-XL17 arrived at 20.10 with 37576 and then went east with L8-XL14 21.35 to Gorleston relieving 37566.
Tuesday 6th November
"Brrr" says Cheryl, "It's 37579 this morning and it's cold !". Well certainly 37578 is having its heating looked at, so maybe 579 needs to be seen too. The timetable went out of the window at lunchtime when temporary three way lights for manhole cover work at Black Drove near Thorney caused havoc. 37156 left Wisbech 6 late on the 11.18 to Peterborough (L11-XL17) but it got caught in the congestion and eventually reappeared past me at 13.52 running 62 minutes late. Subsequent eastbound services went by me as follows : L12-XL18 37572 44 late, Y13-XL19 37576 39 late, K14-XL01 37570 33 late and K15-XL02 37571 24 late. Earlier 37566 had already been 13 late into Lowestoft on K16-XL03 06 22 from Lynn.
Des was driving K16 this afternoon and says "It all began well, with us leaving Southgates on time at 13.20. I had been instructed to travel via Whittlesey because of the A47 queues. Arrived rail station 21 late, departed bus station 15 late and back via A47 where the offending lights had just been removed. Some congestion still and departed Wisbech 24 late. Back at Southgates, my eastbound passengers were escorted over the road to catch a Lowestoft service which was just arriving. I deposited Lynn passengers at the bus station and then took 37566 to the garage".
L10-XL16 seems to have been the first service badly affected by the works and 37578 was changed for 37564 for the 13.02 Lynn to Lowestoft. 37156 looks to have stayed on L11-XL17 but L12-XL18 had 37572 changed for 37565 which came from Vancouver Avenue to Lynn bus station after an adblue fault had been remedied. 37572 must have gone through though as it worked Y13-XL19 this evening instead of 37576. K14-XL01 which should finish at Lowestoft saw 37570 come back on the last leg of K15-XL02 to Lynn instead of 37571. Meanwhile, K19-XL06 14.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough with 37567 terminated / restarted eastbound at Wisbech as it is believed that  the driver had run out of hours. For the second evening running 37577 off Y7-XL13 was required to work K4-XL10 19.35 Lynn - Lowestoft instead of 37573.
Wednesday 7th November
37563 remained off the road today awaiting injector sleeves. 37578 joined it idle with a retarder fault. Unscheduled vehicle swaps continue to occur. 37564 came off K2-XL08 today and was replaced by 37160 which has suddenly become very noisy. K16-XL03 was once again late into Lowestoft this morning with 37159 arriving 14 late.
Thursday 8th November
A quieter day with all the X1 Geminis appearing except 37563 & 37578. Y13-XL19 began with 37157 but 37567 took over at 11.45 from Lynn to Peterborough. At Lowestoft, the last of the new local liveried single deckers, 44518 entered service.


The End of an Era

'The Beast'
Very quietly, without any ceremony or fuss, an era ended this week when, after 17 years,  the very last two B10M Premiere coaches remaining in revenue earning service with First in East Anglia were withdrawn from service. With a long history of use on the X1 route and before that the X94, it is only right that we should pay tribute in the blog to their longevity and comfort.
Ironically, the last two coaches in use, 20102 and 20115 were amongst the rarest on the route over the years. 20102 had relatively recently arrived from Ipswich and was in white livery, while 20115 remained in Excel livery. Both have left Great Yarmouth, 20115 is believed to have been bought privately while 20102's fate is not definitively known - it had been out of use for a short time and whilst some reports say it has also been sold on for service, others state that it has gone for scrap.
For the record, the last use of a Premiere on the main X1 (rather than shuttles) was on April 20th when 20102 worked L12 from Lowestoft to Peterborough and back to King's Lynn where a Gemini replaced it. 20115 had worked L12 throughout on Saturday February 25th and earlier on 6th had again appeared west of Norwich. This trio of workings were the only ones reported on the Peterborough - Norwich section in 2012.
Here's a quick look at some of the B10Ms which served the route so well :
On 12th June 2007, 20105 gives way to 20101 to work the 20.42 King's Lynn - Lowestoft. 20101 new in 1995 was only pressed into use on the X1 in times of shortage as it had a faulty oil warning light and was usually to be found on the X2.
20126 after its repaint in an unorthodox version of the Excel livery - it had previously carried Barbie pink. 126 lasted into 2012 before withdrawal. March 17th 2008
20140 (left) passing 20114 at Fence Bank on August 23rd 2005
On March 2 2009, Malcolm W is at the wheel of 20118 as she approaches Walpole Highway.
April 2009 and 20127 is near Walsoken - she lasted in this livery until the end which came in August 2010. The side advertising was a recent addition.
On July 27th 2007, two Barbie liveried Premieres stand outside King's Lynn garage. In a matter of weeks 20128 was to be relegated to be a driver trainer and 20126 was soon to get a repaint into Excel livery.
20130 with 20126 behind in Wisbech Bus Station. Note the slightly different styles of repaint and logo application. 19th October 2007
July 29th 2007 and a trio of B10Ms await their next duties at King's Lynn. 20105 was withdrawn whilst at Lynn, but 20114 went to Scotland and was later sold. 20121 - an original Eastern Counties vehicle in September 1996 - also went to Scotland but was sent back and performed more useful X1 work until a car ploughed into the back of it causing its final demise.
On June 4th 2007 20141 was photographed with some temporary bumper panels in place. This vehicle has recently been back in service with Emblings of Guyhirn.
1st March 2008 and locally registered 20120 gets away from Hardwick roundabout on its first journey following a period out of service. It lasted until the end of August 2008 when it was withdrawn following crankshaft failure.
The comfortable interior of 20118.