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Tuesday December 31st 2013 ~ Goodbye 2013

A very brief blog tonight before I head out for the evening. Since Christmas the service has run well and today, traffic was so light that the 08.35 from Peterborough came past me 8 minutes early into Wisbech. It must have been about the only vehicle on the A47 ! As on Christmas Eve there will be an early shutdown this evening. Diagrams K15 and K17 which normally finish at King's Lynn will again depot at Yarmouth and Lowestoft respectively, while K6 and L8 finish at King's Lynn instead of Lowestoft and Yarmouth.
To finish off the year, a quick look at the current mileages of the new fleet :

Just leading the way despite being out of traffic pending bodywork repairs since 23rd is 33809 on 29028 miles. Behind it by just a few miles are 33807 & 33811. The remainder are then as follows :

27+ 33810, 33812, 33808, 33805, 33806

26+ 33818, 33815, 33804

25+ 33820, 33816

24+ 33821, 33814

23+ 33813

21+ 33824, 33822, 33823

19,134 : 33817
18,945 : 33803
16,826 : 33819

The new fleet have turned out to be pretty trouble free after the first couple of weeks and we will be keeping tabs on them and other X1 events throughout 2014.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the blog in 2013 and for all your nice emails, here's to a great 2014 for you all.


Happy Christmas !

With thanks to David Bell, Richard Algar and Des Speed


Tuesday December 24th 2013 ~ First Christmas for the Enviros

The build up to Christmas is always a busy time, but the X1 escaped relatively unscathed by the heavy traffic this year apart from on Monday 23rd.
Going back firstly though to Thursday last, which was quite a good day, although an accident at Honigham in the morning delayed Y11 07.15 from Lowestoft which left Wisbech westbound 22 late with 33817. I was away on Friday, but from some point K5-XL11 was taken over by 33423. I had an evening journey from King's Lynn to Walpole on Saturday with 33810 which was slightly late, but nicely warm and comfortable on the 19.53 to Peterborough.
Monday was the worst day by far due to excessive traffic. Peterborough was badly affected from the times the shops opened. L8-XL14 09.50 Wisbech to Peterborough with 33823 left just 4 late , but eventually returned 23 late. Y9-XL15 was 7 late with 33818 and 15 late coming back, but then things deteriorated. 33810 on L10-XL16 was 15 late to Peterborough and 46 late returning. Later L12-XL18 and Y13-XL19 both passed Bruce within 5 minutes of each other heading east at 14.50 & 14.55, 74 and 49 minutes late respectively. Not surprisingly there were numerous vehicle swaps at King's Lynn to maintain timings on the eastern section. 33809 was involved in a slight accident at Dereham in the afternoon which resulted in some small damage to the passenger side rear. This may mean a trip to Full Circle for repair. Up until this point, 33809 had been the highest mileage Enviro 400 having run just over 29,000 miles.
Today, Christmas Eve, 33423 appeared on L12-XL18 07.45 from Lowestoft and it seems it may have travelled east last night following the disruption, rather than having come on to the turn at Lynn this morning. Traffic levels today were light with no instances of late running noted.
37571 is now the only Gemini remaining at Full Circle for repainting and Malcolm noted 37565 at work on the X2 today.
Best wishes to you all for a happy and peaceful Christmas.


Wednesday December 18th 2013 ~ A Game of Chess

As I reported last night the Stagecoach buy out of Norfolk Green was officially confirmed around 7am this morning. It is all like a big game of chess really, I daresay 'First' probably knew when they allowed Norfolk Green to take the King's Lynn local and town services off their hands a couple of years back, that a future takeover would leave Stagecoach as the main contender. 
Runours had been rife for several months, firstly Go Ahead were said to have tabled an offer to enable them to expand their growing empire in the East, then 'First' were said to have offered £5m and now Stagecoach have jumped in with a bid allegedly in the region of £10m. Hopefully the X1 will remain with 'First', although the likelihood of a competing Stagecoach service would now seem inevitable.

Back on the route, the last week has passed off relatively well with just an odd A47 delay here and there. The leader in the mileage stakes for the Enviros is still 33809 and its already considerable tally was added to heavily last week when it did the 'long diagram' (K14-XL01) every day from Wednesday to Saturday. This stint alone would have amounted to another 1860 miles. 33809 has now completed 27,300 miles in traffic in under 3 months.
The 12th (Thursday last) was an interesting day for a number of reasons. Malcolm reports the following Lowestoft sightings : 33805 departing 17 late on the 09.30 to Peterborough (K15-XL02), 34155 on the 09.25 X2 from Norwich and coach 20515 on the 13.25 ex Norwich. Former X1 Gemini 37564 was noted for the first time and this worked the 15.15 X2 to Norwich. 
Over at King's Lynn, a driver shortage meant the 10.00 to Peterborough was cancelled and passengers had to wait for 33812 on Y11-XL17 , the 10.30 departure. At teatime, the 16.46 King's Lynn - Lowestoft didn't run for the same reason. 
Des reports an incident packed journey back eastbound : "I was driving the 17.25 South Gates to Yarmouth (K19-XL06). we had a full passenger loading following the cancellation of the 16.46 service. I then became aware of an RTA between Fair Green and Station Road at Middleton. A passenger phoned her husband to confirm the accident was not blocking the Station Road junction, so I turned round at the Fair Green turn and stopped in the layby before Hardwick to sort out passenger requirements. With the 16.46 not running there were several passengers for Middleton, East Winch and Narborough, so I diverted via the A149 and came into Middleton via Station Road. We were 49 late at East Winch and our Yarmouth arrival was at 20.19, 39 late.  I didn't pick up many passengers as I presume the bus behind diverted via A10 and leap frogged in front of me. As he was the 17.46 and the last Eastbound bus was at 16.11, he must have had a few passenger problems to put up with!!!"
Gosh and all that on Thursday 12th rather than Friday 13th !
 Friday itself was a calmer day and with few buses running late despite the heavy pre-Christmas traffic. Mind you, first thing the 07.30 from Peterborough, normally a banker for being on time was seen at Walsoken 14 late with 33807. Mid morning all was well until Y9-XL15 which passed me by with 33813 running 18 late. That was it though as regards delays until K3-XL09 16.20 from Lynn to Peterborough which 33803 operated running a similar 18 minutes late. At Lowestoft, Malcolm saw another new arrival on the X2, 37567 was working the 14.35 to Norwich. Heavy evening traffic resulted in the 13.30 Lowestoft - Peterborough arriving in King's Lynn 16 late and further congestion affected the 14.30 service which finally managed to get away from Lynn for Peterborough at 18.15, 25 minutes late. All this had been regained however, by the time King's Lynn was reached on the return.
37570 at Norwich with a Lowestoft bound X2 on Saturday. Unusually it is not sporting a T side advertisement, but it does have what appears to be a Christmas elf on the top front window ! Photo copyright : G Bessey
Taking advantage of the fine weather on Saturday, regular contributor Grahame Bessey has kindly sent us a gallery of pictures to brighten up the blog. He adds "very cold so it was off to The Bell for a couple of Pints of Woodfordes Bell Ringer to warm up, after a couple of hours with the camera!". Don't blame you Grahame, wish I'd been there to join you, rather than at work.
In glorious sunshine 33804 heads into Norwich bus station on Saturday working K5-XL11 09.05 from Peterborough. Note Mr. Claus is driving ! Photo : Grahame Bessey 

Another former X1 Gemini devoid of advertising but with a repositioned elf - he's now on a downstairs window ! 37573 in Great Yarmouth branded livery working an X1 short on Saturday. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.

33821 captured by Grahame leaving Norwich for Peterborough on the 10.00 ex Lowestoft. 

Remember this bus ? Often used as an X1 loan vehicle in years gone by, 37562 now finds itself in the regular fleet based at Yarmouth and is here ready to work on a X1 short. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
33819 returned to traffic on 11th December following collision damage repairs, here Grahame snapped her departing westbound working the 11.30 ex Lowestoft with Mr Saban at the wheel. Thanks to Grahame for sending this selection of photographs to the blog.
Sunday was a quiet day as usual, but on Monday coach 20514 was seen out on X1 shorts again by Jamie Skinner - blimey just when you thought they had finished as well ! Two Enviro 400s were removed from traffic today which is very unusual. 33817 working Y11 07.15 from Lowestoft was in trouble on arrival at Peterborough and Lynn produced 33803 tp replace it on the 13.30 King's Lynn - Lowestoft. 33805 was also withdrawn temporarily after it had arrived in Lowestoft on K3-XL09 as it needed a new tyre. On Tuesday temporary lights between Toftwood and Dereham caused minor delays. Timekeeping on Tuesday and today (Wednesday) has been exceptionally good for the time of year. Finally 33806 has not worked since Friday due to a wiring problem.
I will try and produce another blog before Christmas, time permitting.


Newsflash December 17th 2013

It has been revealed today that Stagecoach have bought out Norfolk Green . This being the case, it would seem that 'First' may be in for some competition on the X1 route, however, some sources are saying that Stagecoach want to actually take over the running of the X1 and that negotiations in this direction are already underway. Time will tell of course, but it certainly looks like we are entering a period of change in East Anglia. watch this space for further updates.


Wednesday 11th December 2013 ~ Floods & Fog

The weather has played a large part in the proceedings X1 wise since my last post. The high tides on Thursday evening resulted in evening services being curtailed and wisely so (see below) , since Syd reports large swathes of Lowestoft town centre under water after midnight. In fact he was involved in shifting the Lowestoft fleet to the higher ground of the bus station during the evening.

 The tide reached the top of the bridges at Wisbech too, but only minor flooding occurred here on South Brink outside the White Lion Hotel. Nevertheless, the police did have to shut both North and South Brink for a while around high tide at 20.00.
Lowestoft town centre late on Thursday evening. Photo copyright : Syd Eade'
Fortunately incidents on the route have been few and far between and the Enviros have continued to operate in a reliable fashion. 33819 is still at Full Circle being repaired and the other damaged bus, 33813, is now back in service although operating minus its rear vinyls for the time being.
On Thursday 33814 had to be taken off K1-XL07 for repairs and 33423, still in its characteristic white livery took over. Friday saw the return to traffic of 33813 (see above) but it only worked the first half of diagram K17-XL04 and was replaced at 13.45 by 33818. 33423 was deputising on K3-XL09 commencing with the 06.37 King's Lynn - Peterborough. The so called 'stealth bus' then had some rest before being called upon to work K5-XL11 on Tuesday.

On the punctuality front, Thursday was very good with only L10-XL16 running late of note, 33817 being 19 late from Wisbech on the 10.48 to Peterborough. Friday went remarkably well with only the Swaffham - Peterborough turn running late, 33818 had managed to lose 15 minutes by Wisbech and this hadn't been regained by the time it came back eastbound. I kept a low profile over the weekend when things look to have run smoothly. 33804 was out of traffic at this time awaiting a new windscreen.
Monday was a good day with everything on time at the western end of the route, but Tuesday morning witnessed a string of late departures because of an A47 incident further east. 33803 working the 09.18 Wisbech - Peterborough (Y7-XL13) , a service which enjoys excellent punctuality due probably to it being off limits for the senior citizens free passholders, ran 17 late with 33803. L8 following managed to appear on time, but Y9 and 33805 ran 15 late and L10 following was 19 late with 33824. Things then improved and the rest of the day was OK here, however some late running was also noted in Lowestoft. In the morning 33812 was 14 late arriving on K16-XL03 which then forms the 10.00 westbound and in the afternoon 33805 on Y9-XL15 was 20 late in reduced to 5 late departing on the 16.00 to Lynn. At 17.20 I saw 33823 on K4 running around he block formed by Hall Road and School Road at Walpole Highway as the main road through the village was blocked by an accident, supposedly caused by the fog. To bring us up to date, Wednesday was another foggy day, though services through Wisbech ran very well to time, even though this was not the case further east. A few regular travellers were bemoaning the poor punctuality of peaktime services through Norwich, but what exactly do they expect given the nature of the route and the heavy pre-Christmas traffic ? Have a look at the X1 Twitter feed to see what I mean.

Wednesday morning services were hampered by an RTA on the Acle Straight. King's Lynn acted quickly to minimise delays on the western section and when it became apparent that 33806 on Y9 06.41 from Gorleston was not going to make anywhere near its scheduled departure time of 09.40 to Peterborough, 33423 was summoned and worked the service instead. 33806 then departed for Peterborough as L10-XL16, 33815 the incoming bus dropping a turn to become Y11-XL17 and so on. Y13-XL19 was the first turn to run through unchanged. Des was in the thick of things and reports " 33823  Y11 - XL17 07.15 Lowestoft as far as Lynn South Gates.  On time till Acle (08.21), Queueing to Blofield and via A146 into Norwich, depart Norwich -29 (09.19). Made up 10 mins by Dereham, had to unload a large perambulator, so had to pull tight to a No. 8 sitting on stop to get to the kerb. I've done this before and usually a quick reverse and pull out will suffice. however, a No. 4 pulled tight behind me ! So I was wedged between an 8 and a 4 for 9 minutes.- No time made up. From Lynn the bus worked as L12-XL18".

Moving away briefly now from the X1, Malcolm Hicks has been monitoring Lowestoft services as usual with some unusual workings noted. On Thursday Palatine 34155 was operating an X22 service, while 37563/6/9/70 were all in use on the X2 along with 32655, 30900 & 30901. Friday saw more X2 variety with 34110 putting in a shift along with 34155. This may have been to counter the transfer away of the last of the 326xx series of ALX400s, as  32655 has finished working the route now.  37574/7/9 were all viewed on services 1 & 1a to and from Martham. 34155 enjoyed a final (?) X2 fling on Saturday and coach 20515 was also noted. Monday saw another noteworthy working, Lowestoft town service 103 being graced with the presence of ALX400 30901. 34155 had been relegated to working one of the Bernard Matthews contracts, but just when you thought it had gone,  it popped up on the X2 today (Wednesday) working the 09.25 ex Norwich.
Surely now in their final days on stagework ? Here is 20515 performing on the X2 recently.
Photo copyright : Zak Nelson / NBP.

Sister coach 20514 loading at Norwich bus station on an X2. Photo copyright : Zak Nelson / NBP.

Mark Ellis, a driver at 'First' in Norwich,  has been in touch about a new DVD featuring all the new Enviros and a variety of other vehicles locally. The DVD priced at £8 is available post free from his website at : . Sounds like a good stocking filler for bus enthusiasts to me.
Another web link now and those dear folks at the 'Wisbech Standard' have dragged up an old  photo of me and Bruce on their website, though quite what we have to do with a fanciful petition to get the X1 to divert permanently through Wisbech St, Mary is beyond me. See the full story (and comments - one of which sounds suspiciously like it comes from Victor Meldrew), here :
Sounds a bit Walter Mitty to me .....

Thanks to all our regular contributors, your help is much appreciated as always. G


Wednesday December 4th 2013 ~ Quiet Times

33810 passes Walpole Highway working Saturday's 08.15 Lowestoft - Peterborough.
From a mechanical point of view, the new Enviro 400 fleet seem to have settled in well now and a few of them have now passed the 20,000 mile mark. Changes of diagram are currently quite uncommon and if a maintenance swap is required it tends to feature K6-XL12. This turn runs light to Swaffham and then runs in service to Peterborough to form the 09.35 eastbound departure. What tends to happen is that the 09.35 then changes vehicles at King's Lynn with a freshly serviced bus going forward and the one coming off then going to the depot for the same treatment.
Thursday last saw a morning hiccup with Y9-XL15 and 33823 departing Wisbech 4 late on the 10.18 to Peterborough, but there was then a long gap of 56 minutes before 33818 went west at 11.20, followed just 2 minutes behind by 33824 on Y11-XL17.
 Last week ended fairly well with minimal delays. Monday though was a different story with a morning rush hour accident on the A47 near the Pullover roundabout which then temporarily closed the road as far as Tilney. Traffic was diverted via Tilney All Saints for a time with the result that K5-XL11 07.37 King's Lynn - Peterborough left Wisbech 46 late with 33821. Tuesday was considerably worse with yet another broken manhole between Thorney and Guyhirn causing single line traffic for much of the day. Morning punctuality was awful on the eastbound run, the only saving grace being that once buses exceed 30 minutes late, the public are unaware how late the bus actually is. Coming back east, 33808 on K3-XL09 08.05 ex Peterborough got to Wisbech 39 late. K4-XL10 was 52 late with 33803, K5-XL11 was a whoppng 73 late with 33805. K6-XL12 evaded me, may be going non-stop to King's Lynn to make up time, but Y7-XL13 with 33812 lost very little time being 3 late westbound and 20 late returning. After a long gap 33806 on L8-XL14 came in 53 late before things gradually improved.
Wednesday saw a return to a largely unhindered service, although L10-XL16 10.48 Wisbech - Peterborough ran 17 late with 33809.
Sunday rail replacement buses ran between King's Lynn and Downham Market (?) and 33808 was on standby at the rail station, though it doesn't seem to have been used. Accident damaged 33813 is already back at King's Lynn repaired, but is awaiting application of some new rear vinyls before it can re-enter traffic. 33819 currently remains at Full Circle.
Thanks to all who have enquired about the feature (now well overdue) on the days of the 794 and X94, I hope to have this ready very soon.


Tuesday 26th November 2013 ~ Almost a Week .....

Yes almost a week since the last blog which is indicative of how quiet things have been. Ongoing roadworks on the Lynn Road approach to Wisbech have been the main source of delays, though these have been largely minor. Most X1 drivers have taken to using Lerowe Road and Norwich Road to reach the normal route meaning that the Lynn Road / Walton Road stop is serviced as usual, however, there have been one or two instances of buses using Kirkgate Street to emerge at the Walsoken turn meaning the booked stop has been missed. Peter even spotted one service using the Wisbech eastern bypass with the same result.
Friday was the worst day for delays as usual and the morning services were hit harder than those in the afternoon for a change. The morning departures from Wisbech to Peterborough ran like this :
K6 08.48 33812   -2
Y7 09.18 33806  -19
L8 09.48 33807  -16
Y9 10.18 33808  not viewed
L10 10.48 33817  -19
Y11 11.18 33815  -22
L12 11.48 33803  -18

After this things settled down thankfully.
33810 at Walpole Highway on Saturday (see below)
Saturday was a very murky day as can be seen from the accompanying photographs. Punctuality was hit and miss. 33824 on L10-XL16 passed Fence Bank at 12.47 running 10 late and the next service seen was K14-XL01 due at Walpole Highway at 12.41 but which appeared here at 13.03, 22 minutes late with 33810, this despite the fact that it had been seen arriving at South Gates on the inward just 7 late. Traffic in Lynn must have been bad. After this the service gradually picked up time with L12-XL18 worked by 33811 running just 2 late eastbound.
It really is hard to believe that this picture was taken at 12.45 on Saturday, 33824 hits some filthy weather east of Walpole.
On Monday, the timetable seems to have been adhered to almost completely, so full marks to all concerned there. Tuesday (today) was a bit more hit and miss. L8-XL14 with 33822 was on time going to Peterborough, but Y9-XL15 had lost time and returned into Wisbech eastbound 17 late with 33813. At 11.22 Y11-XL17 appeared just 2 minutes late with 33803 heading for Peterborough, but then less than a minute later the late running L10-XL16 turned up running out of sequence with 33804 33 late. The only other casualty on the punctuality front was K18-XL05 which ran through Wisbech 18 late westbound this afternoon with 33809.
There has been some concern shown over the hydraulic tanks on the Enviros with cracks having appeared on two of the fleet, both buses concerned (33806 & 33813)  have been fixed. There was a more unfortunate incident this evening when 33813 was in error reversed into 33819 in King's Lynn depot and both buses will be off the road for a time for bodywork repairs. Damage to 33819 was minimal but unlucky 33813 will need more extensive work. This probably means the loan of 33423 is likely to be extended to cover for the shortage. On a brighter note, all the Enviro 400s have now completed their return trips to Scarborough for warranty work'

Five of the former X1 Geminis remain at Full Circle undergoing repaints, these are 37564/5/7/9/71. 37573/9 are not listed so may have now departed for their new home.
Elsewhere in the blog world, East Norfolk Bus Blog reports the reinstatement of old X1 regular 34108 at Yarmouth while Norwich Bus Page reports the end of the Paragons on X1 shorts, Saturday last being their last day in service on these services. Malcolm Hicks sends me his usual comprehensive reports and there is now a variety of vehicles to be found on the X2. On Saturday Palatine 34155 was still in use on this service and was seen arriving in Lowestoft at 12.25, closely followed 2 minutes later by 30901, This week though 34155 has been relegated to working one of the Bernard Matthews contracts. The X2 today (Tuesday) saw the following in action : 37566/68/70, 32655/6, 45118 and 44513. Older buses have still been appearing in Lowestoft though and on Monday 34111 worked the 14.40 service 1A to Martham with sister vehicle 34110 on the 15.10.
The Christmas / New Year early finishing arrangements have been released recently and especially for blog readers, Des speed has kindly made a simplifier :

As in previous years, there are no services on December 25 & 26 or January 1. There is a PDF version of the above in the essential info section.


Wednesday 20th November 2013 ~ Tweets and Twits

The use of 33423 on rail replacement work on Friday evening is a late addition to report. It is thought to have helped out following the derailment of the Middleton - Goole sand train in King's Lynn Yard on Friday afternoon. This brought traffic to a standstill for two hours and all trains to London were cancelled.
 After the roadworks of last week, Saturday & Sunday came as a pleasant surprise with almost all services running nicely to timetable. The only buses not to feature in service on these days were 33803 which was spare ready for its safety service on Monday and 33805 which spent Saturday in Scarborough and which was not used on Sunday. 33823 returned to service on Saturday cured of its adblue fault. 

Monday saw the start of a Twitter account devoted to service X1 :

You can access the new page at :

The day began with a resumption of the roadworks in Lynn Road, Wisbech. What appears to be happening in recent days (weekends excepted) is that the road is closed every other day from around 09.00 - 16.00 with temporary lights in force on the days when the road remains open. X1 services have been diverted via Walsoken with delays being minor except during the late afternoon. On Monday other incidents on the A47 accumulated to make morning services between 10 & 15 minutes late heading for Peterborough. Y9-XL15 with 33823 ran very late though and was seen leaving Wisbech 26 minutes late on the 10.18 to Peterborough. Delays further east were less, but K16-XL03 arrived in Lowestoft with 33811 13 late prior to working the 10.00 westbound. 

On Tuesday, Peter and myself went on an X1 pilgrimage to Norwich taking the 08.05 ex Peterborough (K3-XL09) with 33809. Running a few minutes late, we soon became so comfortable in the leather seats that this seemed a minor detail. Having taken an interest in the route since we were both pupils at King's Lynn Grammar School in the early 1970s, not surprisingly we were not shy at coming up with some suggestions as to how things could be improved. One thing we couldn't moan about though was the bus itself which seemed capable of a good turn of speed on the odd occasions that the A47 traffic allowed. Why though are there no bus stop signs at Middleton ? I daresay the Council are the people to ask. Two passengers boarded here as well as a handful at Narborough. At Swaffham there was a good crowd waiting for our bus and we did well to get away just 4 minutes late at 10.11. 
Leaving the A47 for the Toftwood 'experience' we once again bemoaned the fact that this locality being served seems to add more time than the number of passengers joining warrants, although I'm sure the people in the know at 'First' would dispute this. Approaching Dereham we came up with another of our bright ideas. Why not move the Matsell Way stop nearer to Morrisons and the Mid Norfolk Railway ? I'm sure there must be a good reason why this has not occurred. The traffic in Dereham was heavy and the clearances in the Market Place are very tight for the Enviros to negotiate requiring some intelligent driving skills. Our trip off the A47 into Hockering was, in the event, not required, but fortunately we didn't have to wait very long to regain a path on the busy main road. 
Before long we had arrived at Norwich bus station, our (and most of the other passengers) destination. We waited until most passengers had left the bus before getting off ourselves, but having been sitting in the front window seat suddenly became aware that we were being watched. Eight pairs of senior citizens eyes no less were glaring at us fiercely - were they being polite allowing us to disembark first ? No - they were just intent on having a fight for the front seats, such is their popularity! 
On a personal note, I was delighted at seeing Paragon coach 20514 still in use on an X1 short and later on we also saw 20515 also in use.
33822 was working K16 10.00 Lowestoft - Peterborough seen here departing Norwich with Calvin at the controls.
After taking a few photographs we retired to the excellent Trafford Arms nearby where we met our old friend Richard Adderson. He had come along with a recently acquired collection of photographs taken in Eastern Counties days from the 1960s/70s and these were examined in great detail. Now I happen to be a bit of a pedant when it comes to spelling, not that this means you won't find any spelling errors in the blog I hasten to add. Whilst in the bus station though I had noticed an Anglian bus with (to me anyway) a glaring spelling error - here it is ....

Emissions with two Ms ?? Surely not ? - but our second example of an additional letter being manufactured occurred on the Trafford Arms lunch menu - the fish and chips are highly recommended, but WHERE does the fish come from ?

Oh well, it tasted jolly good as did the Adnams Bitter and Winters Mild. As usual, whiling away our time looking at old buses meant it was soon 15.40 and time for us to make tracks for Norwich bus station in torrential rain and the 16.00 departure, Y6-XL12 which was 33805 with a friendly Lowestoft driver. The queue for the bus was a long one and considering its new construction, the bus station's shelters here give scant protection on a day like today. Inside, the warmth and comfort of the new bus was very welcome, though it is such a shame that some passengers show little consideration for their surroundings as shown here 

Do they really do that at home ? Well yes they probably do don't they ?

The traffic heading away from Norwich on this Tuesday evening was exceptionally heavy and by the time Dereham was reached, we were running about 25 minutes late. Further delay ensued when we joined a queue trying to rejoin the A47 after Toftwood and this added a good 6 minutes to the journey time. We also had an unscheduled stop just after leaving Swaffham when (it looked like) the driver had to reprimand some youngsters for smuggling fish and chips onto the bus. The offenders got off at Narborough, which I'm guessing was not their intended destination. The return journey was devoid of the recorded announcements for some reason, but at least this spared us from the continuous commentary for the stops at every blade of grass in Toftwood - it also meant we could value a little snooze en route. 
Arriving back at Lynn, I thought something was afoot when King's Lynn controller Wayne Sheppard took us forward from the South Gates and sure enough, 33803 was standing in the bus station with a Yarmouth driver waiting for us to swap vehicles, 33805 being taken back to Vancouver Avenue. Aware of the substantial delay, the new driver set about making up time with commendable speed. The bus which was still cold having only recently been started soon warmed up and we were whisked back to Walpole and Wisbech quite swiftly. The driver even apologised for the delay when I alighted, so full marks there. Certainly an enjoyable day out and one which we plan to repeat soon.
Meanwhile, Des had an afternoon to remember on Tuesday with 33820 on L10-XL16. He says " On time till a five x Tractor Convoy spread along the A47, caught up with between East Winch and Bilney, I still ended up behind it coming out of Narborough and just managed to get in front of it at Swaffham McDonalds roundabout. Despite numerous opportunities, they never pulled in at any lay-by at all.
Arrived Norwich 14.46, departed after loading -9 (14.59), no time made up. Receive VIX message 'A12 Closed follow 1 route'. Arrived Lowestoft -20 (16.32), bus departed eastbound -4 (16.36)".
So to Wednesday and lighter traffic levels meant that the diversion via Walsoken which was in operation once again, added very little to any delays experienced. Something clearly delayed K18-XL05 though, this passed me leaving Wisbech at 15.05, just 6 minutes late with 33823 but later it was seen returning east following K19-XL06 with 33821. The latter came through Walpole Highway 3 late at 17.21 with 33823 following less than a minute later now running 33 late ! The programme of rectification work is now nearly complete. 33813 was at Scarborough today with 33824 going back north late this evening. L10-XL16 began the day at Lowestoft with 33814 but it was swapped at King's Lynn for 33807 which in turn after a trip to Peterborough gave way to 33806.


Friday November 15th 2013 ~ Four Trying Days

Roadworks and road traffic accidents took centre stage this week. Tuesday was a nightmare of a morning as this capture of the rush hour traffic info details :

So I think yes, the A47 does need major investment, shame the powers that be don't see the same urgency.
Incoming morning arrivals from the coast at King's Lynn were a bit of a shambles. L8-XL14 was not seen by me and neither was L10-XL16 and I suspect that one of these may not have run. L11-XL17 had set out from Lowestoft with 33820, but the late running meant 33423 had to be inserted at Lynn for the 10.40 to Peterborough. Des Speed was in charge of Y11-XL17 mentioned above and became embroiled in the chaos following the Acle Straight accident, he says " I was quite close to it and could not turn around. -27 (08.49 at Acle). Queueing into Norwich -33 (09.23) at Norwich . I realised that I could not make any time up so decided to run this service as the next car line. At 11.07 at South Gates outward the passengers were transferred to another bus (33423).
Afternoon buses ran better, but at teatime delays of around 15 minutes were evident through Wisbech. Engineers were working on the collapsed manhole on the Ouse Bridge in an effort to reopen the closed lane on the A47 today. 33824 was sidelined with an adblue fault today and when 33814 came in from Scarborough tonight, 33817 went back north.
On the diversion via Norwich Road in Wisbech. 
Photo copyright : Peter Risebrow

Wednesday would have been better for punctuality had it not been for the closure of Lynn Road in Wisbech for resurfacing work. Buses were once again diverted via Walsoken to join the A1101. The Swaffham - Peterborough turn (K6-XL12) was the first turn to use the diversion and this passed me leaving the town 15 minutes late. Average delays were in the region of 7 - 9 minutes until late afternoon when 33810 passed by on K18-XL05 20 late, followed by 33807 on K19-XL06 19 late and 33821 on K1-XL07 16 late.

Roy reports an unusual visit by 33818 working K4-XL10 14.17 Great Yarmouth - Peterborough on Thursday. The Enviro 400 was an unexpected visitor to Caister Road garage at around 14.25 and departed towards town a few minutes later :
33818 at Caister Road on Thursday afternoon. Photo copyright : East Norfolk Bus Blog
Whatever was wrong with 33818 was not apparent, but it was replaced at King's Lynn by 33808 for the 16.50 to Peterborough. Earlier 33808 itself had been taken off Y13-XL19 13.05 ex Peterborough because of noisy front suspension. 33820 took over the turn. 33423 had a day out today on K3-XL09 as 33823 was still unavailable.
The usual problems with Friday afternoon punctuality were added to by a further closure of Lynn Road in Wisbech to continue the resurfacing. I unusually had to go in to work at 06.00 so was able to view the following :

K1 33804 -1 / RT
K2 33815 -1 / -1
K3 33819 RT / +3
K4 33810 RT / RT
K5 33818 -1 / +3
K6 33822 -9 / -8
Y7 33820 -12 / not seen
L8 33803 -6 / RT
Y9 33807 -3 / -1
L10 33812 not seen / -10
Y11 33808 -13 / not seen
L12 33816 -2 / not seen

So not at all bad during the morning and both K3-XL09 & K5-XL11 returned from Peterborough 3 minutes early. Once again K6-XL12 was the first service to be affected by the roadworks. 33811 was at Scarborough for attention today.

Elsewhere, two more repainted Geminis have appeared to Yarmouth. 37574 & 37577 were first seen in service on Thursday.
37574 working a service 8 on Thursday : Photo copyright East Norfolk Bus Blog
The Geminis destined for the X2 are coming through at a slower rate and 37564/5/7/9/71 are still due to arrive. This has meant a stay of execution for 34155 which has been in use every day this week according to Michael Bryant. Malcolm Hicks always sends me a comprehensive report including the X2 and Service 1. This week as seen the following vehicles in use :
X2 37563/66/68/70, 34155, 32655/6, 30886/889/900/901, 44512

Service 1 & 1a to Martham : 37562/576/78, 32204/05/06/09/12

Following the restructuring of the management levels at First, it was officially announced on Tuesday that the new interim MD for Eastern Counties will be David Squire who will be based at Lansdowne Road office in Norwich.  David joined First with 35 years of experience in the bus industry. David was Managing Director for Network Warrington, Head of Operations in Manchester for Arriva and General Manager, Dewsbury for Arriva Yorkshire.


Monday 11th November 2013 ~ Bus Service Runs Normally Shock !

Well it is nice to report that things are still running very smoothly on the 'new improved' X1. I had chance to speak with Richard Tucker, King's Lynn depot manager, today. He says that the Enviros are all being returned to Scarborough, mainly for water ingress checks, but that this is being completed on a 24 hour turn around basis, so not really affecting the service requirement. As a precaution, 33423 is being kept at King's Lynn, on loan from Yarmouth until the warranty work is completed. 
Since the last report, little of note has occurred. though a report of Des Speed's day on Wednesday makes interesting reading and shows how accumulating delays can affect the service. His shift began with 33803 working the 06.41 from James Paget Hospital which he drove as far as King's Lynn South Gates. The journey ran on time until a crawl out of Norwich made the service 5 late at Easton. Three way traffic lights at Wellington Road / Kings Road in Dereham were set up but with nobody working, just the lights and men having a teabreak in their van. This meant an arrival at Dereham 12 minutes late. The queue to leave the town saw 33803 running 21 late at Necton then 18 down at Swaffham. Des left the bus at South Gates inward at 09.47, 17 late. His trip back eastbound was with 33811 on the 10.38 South Gates - Lowestoft. This was on time until Norwich bus station where congestion meant loading on Bay 1, departure being 3 late. Temporary lights on Bridge Road / Southtown Road at Yarmouth made the bus 7 late at Gorleston (Library) and Lowestoft arrival was 3 late.
On Thursday K5-XL11 07.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough was seen running in the path of K6-XL12, departing Wisbech at 08.49 with 33813, however, the rest of the day ran well. 33807 came back to King's Lynn in the evening with 33806 going back north.

Friday saw 34109 still in use on an X1 short, captured here by Jamie Skinner.
 Friday was another good day with few delays, although congestion on the western approach to Wisbech saw K17-XL04 with 33817 pass me running 16 late on the 15.15 from Peterborough. Des relieved 33824 working K18-XL05 15.45 from Peterborough at the South Gates inward - it was due at 17.09 and appeared at 17.39. Friday traffic meant it never regained much time and was 22 late into Yarmouth. 33806 returned from repairs today and 33810 went to Scarborough. 
Again on Saturday the service appears to have done well, although K14-XL01 is reported by Doreen  not to have appeared at Peterborough to form the 13.45 eastbound departure and I passed its bus, 33817 near Tilney just after 15.00 running slightly late but showing 'Not In Service' on the front. Des had brought 33817 westbound and the first delays it encountered were at Yarmouth where an overload of passengers saw it leave 4 late. Eventual arrival at the South Gates (inward) was at 12.27, by this time 14 late.  His return eastward was not without incident as 33819 was suffering from a recurrence of its DDA interlock problem meaning that the doors were taking longer to close than normal and this meant a 22 minute late arrival into Yarmouth. 33819 was repaired at Yarmouth garage on Sunday. 33809 became the next bus to go north for repairs and this returned on Sunday with 33821 going the other way.
33813 on K17-XL04 06.50 from Lynn seen arriving in Lowestoft on Saturday. Surprisingly, not all the Enviros are plastered with adverts yet and 33813/20/23 have so far escaped altogether. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey.
K18-XL05 11.00 Lowestoft - Peterborough seen here departing with 33819. The 'Philomena' advert is currently carried by 33809/11/16/19. Photo Copyright : Grahame Bessey
The former X1 Geminis are a daily sight in Lowestoft and this Yarmouth based example, 37572 is seen working a service 1A to Martham on Saturday. Photo copyright : Grahame Bessey,

Many thanks indeed to Grahame for allowing me to use his excellent pictures. Here is a final shot of 37563 in the new X2 livery taken on Saturday.

 Sunday seemed to be without incident, but Monday (today) saw the B198 closed at the Freedom Bridge exit in Wisbech for resurfacing work. I joined the 13.11 departure from Walpole Highway with Karen F which was 33809 and we travelled as booked to the Walsoken stop, but then went left down Lerowe Road to join Norwich Road and then come into the Horsefair from the A1101 Churchill Road. We were 2 minutes late from Walpole and a minute early at Walsoken (strange timetable !) and following the diversion arrived at Wisbech 4 late. Coming back on Y13-XL19, a last minute passenger meant we were almost a minute late departing and after congestion on Churchill Road, 7 minutes behind at Walsoken. Our driver Bob then really showed what 33822 could do with an impressive run through to Walton Highway which was passed in less than 3 minutes from Walsoken at 14.06/30 and now just 3 minutes behind schedule. I left at Walpole and again could quite easily have stayed on the bus such was the comfort and also, on what was a dank and miserable cold day, an excellent ambient temperature on the bus, so much better than the often cold Geminis. The diversion at Wisbech didn't unsettle the timetable greatly, although K16-XL03 (33810) ran slightly late being seen undergoing its driver change at the South Gates at 16.31, about 13 late. Des reports an eventful journey westbound this morning with 33805 on Y11-XL17 07.15 from Lowestoft. At Toftwood, they caught up the preceding service (L10) which disgorged its passengers onto 33805 and the late bus, 33807 then ran light to Lynn to make up time. 


Wednesday November 6th 2013 ~ Day Trips

This week has seen a continuation of the remedial work being carried out on the Enviros. Last week 33819 spent the entire week in Scarborough ADL, but 33804 which went north on Saturday was back on Monday evening ready to resume work on Tuesday. The driver who returned 33804 then took 33818 north and then on Tuesday night 33818 arrived back and 33822 went north. This pattern continued today (Wednesday) with 33822 returning and 33807 going back to Scarborough for attention.
33822 after coming in to Vancouver Avenue from Scarborough on Wednesday evening. The dire weather today has had a predictable effect on the paintwork and shortly after this picture was taken, 33822 was given a good bath.

The fleet seem to have settled down well now and on Monday there was only one delay of note. Y9-XL15 was held up by an earlier accident at Honingham and departed Wisbech for Peterborough 23 late at 10.41.
Tuesday was even better and the worst delay noted was just 13 minutes to L10-XL16 and 33811, but by the time it came back the arrears had been reduced to a mere 3 minutes. X1 Driver Calvin was 50 today and at one stage had the passengers upstairs on his bus singing Happy Birthday - what a friendly lot they are ! Since the relaunch with the new fleet, X1 drvers are now smartly attired with white shirts and name badges.
Wednesday saw an unexpected swap at teatime when 33818 was taken off K17-XL04 and 33808 off servicing went forward.
 Y9-XL15 06.41 ex Gorleston was delayed again and this time 33803 was 10 late westbound through Wisbech. Des reports three way traffic lights in Dereham which at one stage had made Y9 21 late. L10-XL16 following was 15 down with 33819 and then after a period of stability, K1-XL07 15.58 Wisbech - Peterborough came past 16 late with 33815. The other 16 turns were all seen at some point and all ran punctually.
Over at Lowestoft there are now four Geminis formerly on the X1 now working in new livery on the X2, these are 37563/6/8/70.
Thanks to all my regular correspondents for continuing to support the blog.


Sunday November 3rd 2013 ~ All Quiet on The Enviro Front

33805 entering Norwich on Wednesday. Photo : Joe Watson
Since the last blog posting on Wednesday things have calmed down nicely. Thursday ran as well as any day in the new timetable so far. Just one of the nineteen turns ran late, this being K14-XL01 which departed Wisbech for Peterborough 22 minutes late with 33814 being followed 11 minutes later by 33809 on K15.
33821 pulls into Norwich on Wednesday. Photo copyright : Joe Watson

Friday was as usual a poorer day for punctuality and in the early evening driving back from west of Peterborough I saw 33811 on K1-XL07 at Eye Green at 17.03 being followed by three cars and then 33806 on K2 - XL08. I then thought I must have missed seeing K3-XL09, when at the Clarkson Arms on Lynn Road in Wisbech I saw 33820 on K4-XL10, however, just a few cars behind it in the queue running out of sequence was the delayed K3 with 33822, so buses appeared to be running in pairs !
Saturday finally saw the return to traffic of lame duck 33803. It actually managed to do K1-XL07 diagram in its entirety without incident, so maybe it has been cured of its problems. 33819 which had spent the week at ADL in Scarborough for repairs to water leaks in its bodywork, was seen by Peter at Swineshead on the A17 heading back to Lynn at lunchtime. On his return he met 33804 going the other way, again for body repairs. 33809 had to be removed from Y7-XL13 today, but only because a passenger had been ill and it required cleaning, 33805 worked forward.
I had a very pleasant trip to King's Lynn this afternoon on Y13-XL19 with 33813 running nicely to time and I was able to sit on a front seat upstairs in my luxury seat. Other passengers had clearly made themselves even more comfortable (?) and there were dirty boot marks on the front panelling which makes me despair. Coming back we departed King's Lynn bang on time with 33822, but such was the traffic congestion in the rush to leave the town following a sharp downpour that it took us ten minutes to  reach the Southgates driver changing point. This was accomplished swiftly though and in less than two minutes we were on our way and arrival back at Walpole was only slightly late.
Sunday seems to have passed without incident and 33423 has not seen any use during the period under review, it does remain at King's Lynn as a spare vehicle though. 33809 had its first day off since the inception of  Enviro working today and its mileage is now 12,290.
The sun highlights 33821 as she arrives at Norwich. Photo copyright : Joe Watson


Wednesday 30th October 2013 ~ Scarborough Fair

Back on the first day of Enviro operation, this stunning photo of 33804 was captured by Russell Young near Swaffham. Photo Copyright : Russell Young
I had expected ADL staff to attend to 33819 on Monday, but what I didn't expect was that it would return to Scarborough for attention. The reason is water ingress in the bodywork. This has meant a reprieve of sorts for ex demonstrator 33423, details to follow,
Niggly faults have been the order of the week so far, beginning on Monday morning with 33804 losing its gears at Swaffham while working Y7-XL13 05.41 from Gorleston, 33814 was provided to work forward and this continued to Peterborough and back to Lynn where a revived 33804 was given the all clear to resume the duty. 33804 then had an extended day and instead of finishing at King's Lynn just after 18.00, it was called upon to take over from 33813 on L8-XL14 19.01 King's Lynn to Peterborough believed to be because the latter required cleaning.
 The DDA Interlock fault which seems to have affected a few Enviros occurred with 33807 at Norwich at lunchtime and this was temporarily fixed so it could continue to Lynn. Here 33814 went forward. Punctuality was fairly good, but Y9-XL15 had 33808 which arrived back in Wisbech from Peterborough at 12.18, 27 minutes late. On the other hand 33823 on K15-XL02 came in from the west at 14.56 which was 5 minutes early.
Wi-Fi problems with 33804/23/24 were fixed on Tuesday. 33803 was allowed out on the road, it took over from 33817 on Y7-XL13 11.31 King's Lynn - Lowestoft but only reached Toftwood before it suffered a complete loss of power. 33815 was sent out to replace it. At teatime 33807 had to be taken off K1-XL07 and with 33817 undergoing a safety service, 33423 was used to work the 15.20 to Peterborough and back.
K5-XL11 09.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft came bounding into Wisbech 5 minutes early at 09.46 with 33824 this morning and timekeeping was pretty good save early afternoon when K14-XL01 was seen by Bruce with 33818 passing Walpole at 15.09, 24 late.
33804 spinning along nicely on Wednesday morning's 07.33 Swaffham - Peterborough
On to Wednesday then to bring the blog up to date. Following its latest hiccup, 33803 was kept in Vancouver Avenue all day and with 33819 still at Scarborough, this just left one spare bus. K3-XL09 08.05 from Peterborough had 33820, but this came off at Lynn for 33818 to go forward. The fresh bus was in trouble near Dereham however with loss of drive and this once again meant it was the 'stealth bus', 33423 to the rescue and this completed the turn. The day was marred by a number of A47 accidents, beginning with an accident between Acle and West Caister which resulted in a morning peak closure and subsequent diversions, simultaneously there were problems further west at Brundall due to another accident. This meant some services were on time, but others delayed.
Here in the west my day began with encountering the 07.33 from Swaffham and the 07.30 eastbound ex Peterborough, both due at Walpole Highway at 08.31 and both passing each other in the village exactly as timetabled at that time. Y9-XL15 with 33816 was clearly affected by the incidents further east as it was seen departing Wisbech 21 late on the 10.18 to Peterborough. The early morning delays combined with those caused by the temporary lights on Lynn Road in Wisbech (these are only in operation between about 09.30 & 16.00) saw lunchtime services well behind time. K15-XL02 turned up passing my window at 13.56 , 27 minutes late still at the time with 33824 though this came off later with 33820 going forward as the 15.41 Lynn - Lowestoft. K14-XL01 fared even worse returning past me on the 13.45 from Peterborough with 33822 running 31 late. A further accident at Rings End on the A141 at about 14.30 saw traffic backing up to beyond Guyhirn affecting the A47.
Tonight 33823 had to visit Lowestoft garage for a replacement ticket machine before continuing to Yarmouth and forming the 20.35 to King's Lynn, it was on time on arrival.
Just before I sign off this one, I ought to add that there are encouraging signs that the Enviros may well end up giving the Geminis a run for their money. 33809 has now completed 31 continuous days in traffic on the route - yes it has been on the road daily since day one (30/9/13). Its accumulated mileage is now 11,417 !