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Thursday 17th - Thursday 24th January 2013 ~ Good Days and Bad

The adverse weather conditions continued to affect the X1 service on several days during this period. Going back to Thursday 17th January, I've managed to piece things together thanks to various friends as myself and Bruce were not able to view everything. The morning seemed to run reasonably well in the west, but the afternoon was a different matter. Further east there were problems in the morning though. Malcolm didn't see any X2 services this morning, but he did spot 37156 arriving into Lowestoft on K16-XL03 at 10.40 where it had been due at 09.40, so precisely an hour late. It left 'not in service' at 10.42 and was next seen by Bruce at 14.10 heading to Peterborough, now running 37 late. K17-XL04 appeared to run near to time with 37579 being seen approaching Wisbech from the Wisbech St. Mary route at just before 16.00. K19, K1 & K2 (XL13-15) were delayed and some overtaking may have taken place. 37572 on K19-XL13 16.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft arrived at the rail station at 17.05 and departed a minute later, so it was running in the times of K2-XL15. Bruce saw two Peterborough bound services leaving Wisbech almost together at 16.15, so presumably K1 and K2 which by now were running with 37577 & 37573. 37576 was involved in a skirmish with a car today while working Y6-XL12 and had to be replaced by 37575 for repairs to be made. 37160 was fresh from MOT this evening. 37156 & 37577 returned from Lowestoft to Lynn tonight in place of 37571 & 37572 caused by the day's disruption.
Friday 18th began with 37577 seen parked in a layby near Walsoken on K1-XL07, all must have been Ok though as it continued the turn and was on time by the afternoon. Diversions were in operation for much of the morning after the A47 was closed at Necton because of an accident, David Leathart was surprised to see a Lowestoft bound X1 in Watton High Street at 10.10, it turned left at Queens Hall traffic lights and headed for Dereham. I am told that only eastbound buses used this diversion. Delays at Necton meant that Y6-XL12 05.50 from Great Yarmouth did not arrive in King's Lynn in time for its 08.15 departure to Peterborough, so 37567 was sent from Vancouver Avenue to form this service. When 37578 arrived on Y6, it became Y7-XL13 and some other shifting of vehicles resulted. Afternoon punctuality was pretty good for a Friday, but 37159 on K18-XL05 was changed at King's Lynn for 37573.
 So we move on to Saturday 19th January and overnight snow caused less disruption than expected. In fact this was probably the best day for X1 punctuality SINCE I STARTED THIS BLOG !! Drinks all round then (well unless you are driving that is !). I viewed all 19 services passing through Wisbech and every one was within 3 minutes of time or even slightly early, with the exception of one. The black sheep was K2-XL08 15.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough which passed me almost 6 minutes late with 37579. Otherwise an absolutely splendid day and one I will certainly remember for a long time.37157 was stopped today for compressor attention and then for MOT preparation. 37566 found itself on L8-XL14 today, but was needed for a safety service on Monday. Because of this it was taken off L8 at 18.45 and 37564 replaced it. 37566 was then required to relieve 37577 at 19.45 on Y10-XL16, so it did the 19.50 to Peterborough and back before being positioned over the pits for attention on Monday as scheduled.
The evening of Sunday 20th saw First withdraw services early because of snow. This barely affected the X1 though, as by this time drivers were in position to complete their turns. The driver of 37565 on the 21.35 King's Lynn - Lowestoft saw very few passengers and would have travelled empty had it not been for a single passenger who needed to get to Yarmouth and then once he'd successfully arrived there, another person who wanted to go to Gorleston. Because of the paucity of traffic, the bus was at its destination on time. The 21.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough which should have been 37573 is believed to have been cancelled because of the deteriorating weather conditions. 37571 was replaced by 37156 at some stage today on XL09 diagram.
Monday 21st January was an extremely unusual day on the X1 with the service effectively running in two parts, from Lowestoft to Yarmouth (or possibly Norwich - I'm not sure on that one) and Norwich - Peterborough. Some services were cancelled and as an example of how things worked out, 37156 worked K3-XL09 as booked until arrival in Norwich at 11.20, it then turned round and became K17-XL04 11.55 Norwich - Peterborough and again back as far as Norwich where it finally became L11-XL17 18.20 Norwich - King's Lynn.
37156 after it had retired for the night after a rather unusual day.
Malcolm was at Lowestoft to see some of the shuttles at that end noting 37572 arriving at 10.08 and departing as a Service 1 to Yarmouth at 10.28, 37578 arrived at 10.24 and 37575 at 10.47. In the afternoon 37575 arrived at 13.51 and left again at 14.06 while 37578 arrived again at 14.34. Dart 43465 was turned out for the 14.38 X2 to Norwich. 32651 was in contrast noted by Malcolm on a contract working.
On Tuesday 22nd, the X1 service reverted to its normal weekday timetable. Bruce noted 37573 on K3-XL09 08 56 Wisbech - Lowestoft travelling almost in convoy with 37159 which was out on a test run. 37579 on K4-XL10 following came through 14 late and going the other way L8-XL14 passed through en route to Peterborough 12 late with 37567. Things then seemed to pretty much run to timetable. K14-XL01 12.15 King's Lynn to Peterborough had 37159 after an obviously successful test run, it having replaced 37566 at Lynn. At Lowestoft, 37156 arrived 17 late on K16-XL03, getting away westbound just 9 late. 37568 with K17-XL04 then came in 11 late and departed 3 late. 37158 on K18-XL05 then arrived 10 late. The X2 had Dart 42458 on the 09.05 from Norwich and Palatines 34156 on the 10.38 and 34155 on the 14.38 to Norwich.
The early part of the week saw 37576 still sidelined with its bodywork repairs and 37157 on MOT work.
37563 bang on time with Wednesday's 10.36 from Walpole Highway to Lowestoft (XL12)
  Wednesday 23rd's service ran fairly smoothly with just two bus changes required and timekeeping was good on the 24th with only Y13-XL19 and 37160 exceeding 10 minutes delay and even this came back from Peterborough just 5 late. Now isn't it this year we are supposed to be getting new buses ? More news on this next time.


Thursday 10th - Wednesday 16th January 2013 ~ Winter Arrives

Certainly been eventful since the last blog hasn't it ? Not that that seemed likely if we go back to Thursday 10th, when all was relatively calm. Punctuality in fact was quite exceptional, 37570 on Y6-XL12 09.35 from Peterborough was 15 late through Wisbech and the same out of King's Lynn, but all other services were behaving. Even 37160 on Y7-XL13 managed to be on time into Wisbech despite very foggy conditions, though I suspect 37570 on the late Y6 had picked up most of its intended passengers. Congestion on the A141 at rings End looks to have tailed back onto the A47 this afternoon and one or two buses went via Wisbech St. Mary.
Friday 11th was almost a repeat of Thursday with good timekeeping and a few services travelling via Wisbech St. Mary. 37563 on K14-XL01 13.35 from Peterborough was 16 late having travelled via the normal route, but again other services did well. 37579 was stopped today with a wheel bearing needing attention. Saturday 12th saw 37579 still being worked on and 37565 joined it in the garage with a data link fault. This evening 37160 was stopped on arrival for the start of its MOT preparation. Bruce kept me up to date with proceedings.
A surprise on Sunday 13th was 37156 on XL06 10.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft instead of a B9. This turn then works Service 1 and finishes at Yarmouth.

So to Monday 14th and the start of an eventful week. With snow forecast for the afternoon, the omens were not good, however, amounts were smaller than expected. At Walpole it fell for two hours from around 14.10, but the rest of the day was dry except for some light rain at about 22.00.
Wyn battling his way through a blizzard at Walpole Highway with 37563 this afternoon - commendably only 7 minutes late considering the conditions.
37572 has now completed half a million miles, not too many of them in conditions like this though, This was Gareth guiding 572 through Walpole at the height of this afternoon's blizzard
L11-XL17 ran sufficiently late in the morning to terminate at Wisbech and restart from there eastbound with 37159 at 12.56. Generally, services ran up to 15 minutes late, although the final service into King's Lynn, K19-XL06 from Lowestoft was seen arriving slightly early at 00.36 with 37572.

The fun and games began on Tuesday 15th. Morning services to Peterborough were running behind time and noted through Wisbech were the 09.18 (Y7-XL13) with 37577 7 late, but full as it transpired that 37576 on Y6 had been running so late it went empty from Lynn to Peterborough - not a good start and very unusual for a peak time service Next was  L8-XL14 with 37566 running 19 late - amazingly this made up a lot of time and came back only 7 late. Westbound again, Y9-XL15 was 24 late with 37157 and L10-XL16 14 late with 37567. L11-XL17 came through 13 late with 37573, but then services ran to time until K15-XL02. This turned out to be the last service to get through Norwich before a huge snowstorm which paralysed the whole city. Snow showers had been forecast, but nothing on the scale which materialised.
Norwich this afternoon with 36173 amongst the stranded buses on Ketts Hill. Photo from a brave Dave Hodkinson !
Sister 36178 has become a media star following attempts by passengers to push her up Rose lane in the city :

Dave Hodkinson's picture shows the chronic ice which led to a 19.00 shutdown of 'First' services in Norwich tonight.
 Eventually, because of the chronically icy conditions,  the X1 was suspended between Great Yarmouth and Dereham with a shuttle service operating at either end. 37574 which had operated L12 ran through from Lowestoft to Peterborough and then worked the 12.35 back as far as King's Lynn. On arrival here it was turned round to become K17 13.45 back to Peterborough on which it was a creditable 12 late at Wisbech. Later 37574 was seen making a third run of the day from Lynn to Peterborough with K4-XL10 16.45 departure. Spare vehicles were at a premium with 37569 o/s awaiting injector sleeves and 37160 on MOT. All diagrams went out of the window and I popped over to the King's Lynn control room at shortly before 21.00 to see how things were going. 37566 departed Lynn at 20.50 with passengers for Dereham, while earlier a B9 was seen leaving Wisbech at 20.10 to Peterborough, only 12 minutes ahead of the next service which didn't run. As a result this bus formed the 21.10 from Peterborough rather than a delayed 20.10. 37571 was seen arriving at Lynn from Dereham at 21.35 in the path of Y13-XL19. The last service to Peterborough passed Bruce at 22.35 (due 22.11). Over at Yarmouth 37567/72/78/79 were garaged ready for Wednesday morning when 37577 arrived as well, so one bus was diverted to Lowestoft to correct the numbers.
Wednesday morning conditions were OK in the west, but still very dicey in Norwich. By the time services left Lynn for Peterborough, they were around 30 minutes late, but passengers probably didn't notice, unaware that they were catching a late bus rather than the one they had bargained for. Cheryl was not impressed with the Twitter feed from 'First' and phoned me for updates which were relayed by a combination of Bruce and viewing the Southgates webcam. The first service from Yarmouth did get through today with 37567 viewed departing South Gates at 08.39 (about 18 late), then passing Bruce at Walpole at 08.55. Malcolm later reported 37567 being 13 late into Lowestoft but departing just 5 late, so almost back on schedule. There were several unexplained swaps during the day which Bruce reported diligently as ever. K15-XL02 looks to have done a sprint to Peterborough before coming back in service, noted passing Bruce at 15.28 (23 late). Malcolm reports L8-XL14 arriving in Lowestoft this afternoon with 37570 35 late.
More snow forecast for Friday, so watch this space !


Wednesday 2nd - Wednesday 9th January 2013 ~ Par for the Course

A Happy New Year to all our readers ! Seems a while ago now doesn't it ? The first week of 2013 has been relatively uneventful, but let's have a look at it anyway :
Wednesday 2nd Jan. The year begins with a day of good timekeeping, Y9-XL15 lost 11 minutes with 37157 and L11-XL17 12 minutes with 37568, but everything else was good. 37579 on K4-XL10 misbehaved with a faulty starter motor after the initial trip to Peterborough, so 37563 off maintenance did the rest of the turn. 37570 needed new brake pads so in the afternoon came off K19-XL06 and a revived 37579 took over. A problem with the ticket machine on 37571 saw it swapped for 37564 on Y6-XL12 20.35 King's Lynn - Lowestoft.
Thursday 3rd Jan. Temporary lights at Necton caused minor delays to services today, but west of King's Lynn punctuality was excellent 37577 on L8-XL14 was 6 late on the heavily loaded 09.48 Wisbech - Peterborough, but only 1 minute late returning eastbound and 37572 on Y9-XL15 was three late westbound and one early coming back. Just one swap today, again involving 37571 which did K17-XL04 until 13.37 with 37156 taking the turn forward to Peterborough at 13.45 from Lynn.
34111 photographed on a short by Jo Watson
Friday 4th Jan. Another great day for timekeeping - even the fact that L11-XL17 with 37159 passed through Wisbech 9 late westbound and 37157 arrived in Lowestoft 17 late on Y9-XL15 couldn't take the gloss off a very good day otherwise. K17-XL04 was the only bus change reported with 564 giving way to 565 this afternoon.
Saturday 5th Jan. I didn't see much today, but things seem to have gone smoothly. B7 37159 was seen arriving at the Southgates from Lowestoft at 14.16, a minute after it should have left westbound, but that was the only delay noted. 37578 is at last almost ready to return to service after a prolonged lay off for repairs. It now just needs an inoperable destination system sorting. No swaps were required which is always a good sign and the buses weren't choked with football supporters as some people suspected they might be with Norwich playing away at Peterborough in the FA Cup, for which a special bargain fare was available.
Sunday 6th Jan was just an ordinary Sunday with ten B9 worked diagrams, so to Monday 7th and B7 worked services ran about 10 late, 37159 on Y9-XL15, 37160 on L11-XL17 and 37156 on K18-XL05 were all late by this margin westbound through Wisbech, although surprisingly, the latter did regain a lot of this and was only 3 late coming back eastbound. Worst delay affected Y13-XL19 which had 37563 and was 13 late on the 11.45 Lynn - Peterborough and this had increased to 20 minutes coming back. 37572 replaced it for the 14.32 King's Lynn - Lowestoft.
Tuesday 8th Jan saw some services diverted via Wisbech St. Mary due to delays in the Guyhirn area. One service which ran via the correct routewas L8-XL14 which left Wisbech 8 late westbound and came back 13 late. 37566 on L12-XL18 expired at Middleton with a water leak at around 11.00, so 37572 took over. 37566 came out again later replacing 37159 on K18-XL05. At last 37578 returned to traffic on K4-XL10, it had last worked on December 20th.
Up to date then with Wednesday 9th January and today more services ran via Wisbech St. Mary, particularly in the middle of the day. 37577 on K17-XL04 used this route in both directions this afternoon. Tonight an accident on the Acle Straight saw services diverted via Filby and K15 with 37568 took this route,still though arriving in King's Lynn on time. Diagram K1-XL07 had an interesting day, beginning with 37563, this gave way to 37579 at 15.15 from King's Lynn eastbound, however, a mysterious rumbling noise saw 579 taken off on arrival back in Lynn and 37570 went forward as the 18.02 King's Lynn - Great Yarmouth. All the X1 Geminis were involved in the service at some point today except 37574 which was out of service having new brake pads fitted.
On a final note 37572 should pass the half million miles mark on either Sunday or Monday of next week !


Saturday 29th - Monday 31st December 2012 ~ Goodbye 2012

A nice quiet end to 2012 with pretty much everything behaving. An errant pheasant managed to smash the destination screen on 37565 on Saturday. This resulted in the bus running empty from Norwich - Lowestoft and back to King's Lynn where 37567 took over the turn (K2-XL08) at 15.45. One other swap was on K4-XL10 when 37579 was removed at 19.30 for heavy cleaning and 37563 worked forward - this had already done a day's work on L9-XL15.
On Sunday services seemed to run very well to timetable, there was just one surprise with 37160 working Y8-XL08 instead of 37573. B7s are seldom used on Sundays and 37160 had to visit Vancouver Avenue for refuelling before departing on the 19.55 Southgates - Peterborough. 37569 & 37579 were stopped for deep cleaning today and mileage leader 37572 was also inactive as it required attention to its water pump. The half million miles mark is imminent for 572 and tonight it had almost completed 496,000 miles.
New Year's Eve saw 37572 back on the road working K19-XL06. 37158 was serviced during the morning and then took K15-XL02 this afternoon replacing 37563. Stopped today were 37579 (starter motor) and 37578 which is continuing with its brake modification, having not worked since 20th. The service mirrored Christmas Eve with an early shutdown today. Services ran well with only L11-XL17 appreciably late this morning having lost 17 minutes by the time it reached Wisbech with 37159.
37568 photographed by Kieran Smith
Time as usual to say a huge thank you to everyone involved with the unofficial X1 blog, our regular contributors, Des, Bruce, Malcolm, Cheryl, Peter and all the rest - oh, not forgetting Victor Meldrew's occasional rants. Your contributions are always valued and thanks too to Kieran Smith and Dave Hodkinson for keeping me supplied with photographs. On a personal note I'd like to thank Nigel Barratt and his team at First who have kindly issued me with another free pass - a most unexpected and appreciated gift. Thanks too to all the local team at King's Lynn for their help over the year and finally to the X1 drivers, most of whom seem more than happy to have a camera pointed in their direction from time to time. Hope you all have a Happy & Healthy 2013.  Gerard