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Monday 18th February - Tuesday 26th February 2013 ~ Update

Since the last blog entry I've been making daily visits to my Mum in hospital, so to catch up it's a bit of a 'brief highlights' job. Most noteworthy arrival at King's Lynn was an Enviro 400 which visited briefly on Friday for the engineers to peruse, however, it was shorter in length than the buses which are expected, so an evaluation of that nature was not possible. It is confirmed now that the new buses will be able to run at a top speed of 56 mph, the same as the B9 Geminis.

Norwich bus station was closed all last week for repairs to the roof canopy and X1 services along with other buses which normally use the bus station were diverted to nearby stops. The week dawned with 37573 stopped with its axle problem and 37568 likewise with a no. 3 injector fault. 37570 had an exciting day doing K5-XL11 to 10.27, L11-XL17 from 10.45 and then Y6-XL12 from 20.35, on the latter replacing 37567 which had a wayfarer fault.  Services ran well but with a few other bus swaps, K18-XL05 was the worst delay noted, 37159 being 16 late on the 14.48 Wisbech - Peterborough. Thanks to Malcolm Hicks for some notes on the X2 where this afternoon two successive journeys were entrusted to Darts, 43489 on the 13.38 and 42451 on the 14.08 to Norwich. The 12.40 from Norwich came in with Palatine 34156. Tuesday 19th passed with all buses sticking to their turns. Morning services from Peterborough passed Wisbech running late, the most delayed was 37157 14 late on K5-XL11 09.05 ex Peterborough.
Richard Alger kindly sent me this picture of 37579 in All Saints Green on Wednesday while taking the passengers on the  09.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough (K15-XL02) on unfamiliar territory.
Cheers also to Kieran Smith who was also out with his camera in Norwich on Wednesday capturing 37574 on K1-XL07 07.00 Peterborough - Lowestoft at its temporary stop. 
On Wednesday 37573 made its way to Volvo at Norwich for attention to its axle problem. Delays were restricted to Y13-XL19 13.05 from Peterborough running 12 late with 37576 and K14-XL01 following on the 13.35 with 37566 21 late. The roads were relatively quiet today and Des was quite pleased that he managed to convert a 10 minute late arrival with 37158 on K18-XL05 at Peterborough rail station into an on time departure from King's Lynn at 17.02. Thursday 21st saw a liner sensor fault on 37159 repaired in time for it to work L11-XL17 10.45 from King's Lynn to Peterborough, taking over from 37157. Earlier 37566 had an adblue problem on L10-XL16 and the 10.15 to Peterborough had 37568 forward from Lynn, but all services ran pretty much to the timetable.  On Friday 22nd the service ran well, with only K16-XL03 (37157) delayed and just two maintenance swaps occurred.
Saturday 23rd began with two buses sidelined as 37573 was still out of action at Volvo and 37156 was stopped for MOT preparation work. 37577 was spare at King's Lynn after a safety service. In the evening though 37567 on K15-XL02 was involved in an altercation with a runaway invalid carriage in Great Yarmouth, causing damage to the bus. This meant it had to be taken out of traffic and there was a gap in the service back to King's Lynn. Sunday passed without incident with the service all B9 worked.
A shortage of drivers on Monday 25th saw supervisors and a relief driver employed to keep the service running, most buses ran pretty much to time and with 37567/73 & 37156 unavailable there were no spare vehicles whatsoever. Only one swap was necessary though, 37564 came off Y6-XL12 at 20.35 and 37566 which had just arrived on L11-XL17 worked forward. 37567 was sent to 'Full Circle' for bodywork repairs.
Tuesday 26th will go down in X1 history as a bad day. To begin with, no driver was available to work the 07.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough and 09.05 back to Lowestoft as far as Lynn (XL11-K5). 37569 working K19-XL06 07.21 Wisbech - Lowestoft had an air problem in King's Lynn bus station, so 37159 which would have done K5 had it run, was called for and worked the remainder of K19. 37569 was quickly repaired, just in time to relieve 37160 on K3-XL09 which had a minor fault. 37160 was also soon fixed and took out the 10.32 to Lowestoft. Things then settled down briefly until 37576 failed in Wisbech bus station before departure on the 12.18 to Peterborough (Y13-XL19). With no spare vehicles, the service was cancelled here and the 13.05 ex Peterborough suffered the same fate as far as Lynn.
Bruce was at Lynn bus station where the 14.15 to Peterborough (K18-XL05) was also cancelled, this was because the bus which had arrived from Lowestoft on it, 37158, was then appropriated to work Y13-XL19 at 14.32 back to Lowestoft in place of 37576. Peterborough passengers had to wait until K19-XL06 at 14.45. A similar situation occurred at 17.00 when 37160 on K5-XL11 was turned round to work K18-XL05 17.02 to Great Yarmouth and the 17.15 to Peterborough didn't run. When 37577 on Y7-XL13 arrived at King's Lynn, it was despatched to Wisbech to work K5 at 19.30 and only the Peterborough - Wisbech bit of this was cancelled. So this was all a bit of a tragedy for the timetable. The problem with 37576 was its camshaft and no. 6 injector so this evening Richard fetched 36180 from Norwich to begin another short stint on the X1. This bus is fitted with a tachograph and can therefore stand in on the X1 unlike its sisters, so was really a surprise choice to receive wrap all over advertising (below). 34155 had a run out on the X2 today being noted 15.08 Lowestoft - Norwich.


Monday 11th - Sunday 17th February 2013 ~ They Are On Order !!

We have a  possible X1 blog 'exclusive' to start today's entry. It is now official that part of Thursday's huge order for 464 new buses announced by First Bus includes 22 new vehicles for the X1 service. They are Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s fitted with 6 cylinder Cummins engines and delivery could commence as soon as May this year. Blog readers have made it known that upgraded features they would like to see are leather effect seating and wi-fi and in response to customer satisfaction surveys these refinements are amongst several which will be fitted to the new fleet. Check out the full spec available on these buses here :

So time would appear to be running out now for the trusty fleet of Volvo/Wright Geminis which have served us so well over the last five years. We begin our review of recent events on Monday 11th February, a day on which X1 timekeeping was very good and possibly the most notable happening was the appearance on the X2 of 32656 repainted in its new X2 branded livery. 37159 was off the road for MOT prep, but the remaining B7s were all at work and according to Richard Tucker, the chief engineer at King's Lynn, these vehicles give him less headaches than the B9s. All the B9s featured today except 37577 which needed new brake discs. Y6-XL12 swapped 37563 (due a service) at 17.45 for 37578 and earlier 37578 had come off K19-XL06 to be replaced by 37571 which was fresh from attention to an adblue fault. Shrove Tuesday was uneventful with 37564 stopped for servicing and an alternator fault and 37573 coming off L10-XL16 with an axle problem to be replaced by 37563.
Wednesday 13th was another excellent day for punctuality and the visit by 37571 to Vancouver Avenue whilst working the 19.50 King's Lynn to Peterborough was the only talking point. Late tonight 37565 was unable to work the last leg of K15-XL02 and instead 37574 off K16-XL03 substituted.
 Just when you thought this was going to be a good week, Thursday saw a five vehicle accident near Drayton Hall Lane, close to the start of the Dereham bypass around midday. This caused big queues in both directions on the A47, although the X1 seemed to escape relatively unscathed. Westbound from Wisbech, Y13-XL19 passed through on time with 37567, but K14-XL01 was heavily delayed, due off Wisbech at 12.48, 37156 appeared departing for Peterborough 28 late 'not in service' with passengers decanted at the Horsefair to wait for 37578 which was close behind on K15-XL02, 37156 then miraculously appeared just 2 late on the 13.35 ex Peterborough which by deduction must have started at Thorney. After this K16/17/18 all appeared roughly on time, although K17-XL04 had 37575 off King's Lynn garage rather than 37571 which had begun the turn, K19-XL06 though departed Wisbech for Peterborough 19 late and K1-XL07 following had lost 8 minutes before K2-XL08 came through on time with 37574/2/9 respectively. At the Lowestoft end Y7-XL13 failed to arrive due to the disruption. K3-XL09, K5-XL11 and L8-XL14 all swapped buses today and in the case of K5, 37160 came off for 37159 fresh off MOT to work forward.
Sprowston Manor Hotel was the venue for an evening honouring long standing employees of 'First' in the region this evening. Here, X1 boss Rosemary Parry, who manages the Excel drivers at all three depots, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and King's Lynn is seen here with First Bus MD Giles Fearnley.
Des Speed has accumulated 37 years service at Great Yarmouth and was one of five X1 drivers attending, along with King's Lynn engineers Colin Dack and Tim Rix. Giles Fearnley appears to have acquired an X1 Blog calendar !

Friday 15th saw just one blip in the timetable. L8-XL14 09.48 Wisbech - Peterborough departed 6 late with 37579, but there was then a prolonged wait before Y9-XL15 and L10-XL16 arrived within 5 minutes of each other with 37157 & 37158. Passengers were concentrated on 37158 and 37157 went empty to Peterborough returning 12 late. One other delay concerned 37571 on K4-XL10 which overheated in Gorleston at 14.20. Fitters attended with a replacement belt and 37571 continued on its way, being seen 20 late at Tilney heading for Peterborough. Michael B reports coach 20515 relegated to a Bernard Matthews contract working this afternoon. 37573 which last worked on Monday remained at Vancouver Avenue with its axle fault. On the X2 Dart 43489 was an unusual sight on the 10.38 Lowestoft to Norwich and also seen by Malcolm was 37157 on Y9-XL15 arriving 16 late this afternoon (see above).
Timekeeping on Saturday was quite good, the poorest point coming in the early afternoon when the 13.48 Wisbech - Peterborough (K16-XL03) departed 11 late and the corresponding eastbound 13.56 to Lowestoft (Y13-XL19) came in from Peterborough 13 late with 37579. At around 17.30, 37158 working K1-XL07 lost all its air in Wisbech and 37157 had to come to the rescue and work through to Great Yarmouth. This was the only swap of the day though. 37159 was enjoying more time off at King's Lynn for some rear panels to be patched up. Ideally Lowestoft should receive just one B7 on a Saturday evening in order to avoid a refuelling manouevre on Monday, L11-XL17 being the only weekday Lowestoft starter which is suitable for a B7. Today though 37160 went through on K16-XL03 and with 37157 ending up on K1, two B7s will now have to be sent out on Monday.
Finally to Sunday and a glorious sunny day for a change. Bruce noted most services within five minutes of time. The service was entirely B9 worked, but at some point XL01 turn had 37568 replaced by 37579.


Friday 1st - Sunday 10th February 2013 ~ Well Behaved Buses

It's quite a while since I wrote a blog entry, but despite this there is little to report. The week just gone must rank in the most successful since Geminis took over the X1. By my reckoning, there were six vehicle swaps during the entire week which leaves 118 diagrams starting and finishing with the same bus. Any bus company would quite rightly be proud of such a record,
February began with 37573 having its camshaft problem sorted, but no sooner was this back on the road than 37578 disgraced itself by suffering an injector failure, It was operating K5-XL11 on Friday 1st, but 37576 took over - I think for the 17.15 King's Lynn to Peterborough. This diagram finishes at Lynn at 20.00, but 37576 was then called upon to take over from 37565 on Y6-XL12 20.35 to Lowestoft. L12-XL18 had 37575 removed with a rear suspension problem, but 37574 was spare to take over at 11.15.
Timekeeping was fair with many services running 6 to 8 minutes late, but nothing any greater than this. X2 sightings from Malcolm included Dart 43463 on the 13.38 to Norwich - is this booked a Dart I wonder ? The 15.38 service had Palatine 34155.
Considering what a successful week was ahead, this looked highly unlikely as of the evening of Saturday 2nd at King's Lynn. With 37575 having its suspension examined and 37578 stopped with its injector fault, this just left one spare bus, this was 37565 which took over K18-XL05 from an ailing 37574 during the afternoon. At 20.30 37563 was brought in on Y6-XL12 with a dashboard warning showing, With 37579 and 37159 earmarked for heavy cleaning, 37158 which had arrived on Y7-XL13 was started up to replace it, however, this then failed with an ABS modulator fault. 37576 which had come in on L11-XL17 was still being examined and cleaned, so this only left 37157 which had just had the treatment after arriving at 20.00 on K5-XL11. It was 37157 then which took the 20.35 to Lowestoft in exactly the same fashion that 37576 had done the previous night. Anyway it was a sunny morning on Saturday and here are some pictures from Des of buses on the Yarmouth diversionary route :
I think this is 37569 on the 09.25 from Lowestoft, though I stand to be corrected. (Photo :  Des Speed)
37156 takes the 09.55 from Lowestoft over unfamiliar territory (Des Speed)

Des says he was experimenting with a new camera and was none to impressed with the results. Looks OK to me Des ! This is 37568 working K1-XL07 08.00 Wisbech - Lowestoft with Paul smiling for the camera !
Sundays are usually fairly predictable with just ten diagrams, but some swaps were made on this occasion. XL02 with 37572 is supposed to arrive in Lowestoft at 20.30 and then do the 20.48 back to Lynn, 37577 which had done XL09 13.10 from Peterborough, due into Lowestoft at 17.30 did the 20.48 instead and XL06 10.10 from Peterborough which was 37576 and which is then supposed to work the 1 service to Martham, instead came back on 577s turn, the 17.48 Lowestoft - King's Lynn. Meanwhile the driver of 37565 had experienced unusual vibrations and XL07 changed vehicles at Lynn with 37579 working the 18.50 to Peterborough and 20.10 back to Lowestoft.
I had a meeting in London on Monday 4th, so took K5-XL11 with 37570 at 10.06 from Walpole Highway to Lynn, bang on time. To my surprise though, on arrival here it went 'not in service' to the garage, see picture here :

Shortly afterwards, 37565 (hopefully vibration free - see above) appeared in its place on the 10.32 to Lowestoft. As we arrived in the bus station, 37156 was seen departing for Peterborough 11 minutes late on L10-XL16 which is due off at 10.15.
On my return from the Capital, I took advantage of my free pass and took 18.35 King's Lynn to Lowestoft with 37577 as far as the Southgates, coincidentally with the same driver who had driven me earlier. I then walked down the road to have a peek at what was in the garage. Here I was told that my service forward was having to change vehicles owing to passenger illness and needed cleaning, so I was able to board the replacement vehicle - would you believe 37570 again ! - for onward travel back to Walpole on the 18.50 ex the bus station. 37567 soon arrived and passengers were transferred with only a slight delay.
Bruce kindly sent me details of Monday's buses on which there was one other evening swap, Y6-XL12 having 37572 , due a safety service,  replaced by a repaired 37158.
The rest of the week has gone very smoothly. Tuesday saw 18 out of the 19 turns viewed at Wisbech and most were on time, the maximum lateness recorded going to 37567 on K5-XL11 which was 9 late to work the 09.56 to Lowestoft and later 37564 was similarly delayed on K14-XL01 14.26 eastbound. Punctuality on Wednesday was even better and even 37157 working K16-XL03 13.48 Wisbech to Peterborough with Des at the wheel turned a 7 minute late departure into an on time arrival returning eastbound. This was all the more surprising as earlier, the Acle Straight had been closed with diversions via Filby. 37570 on K14-XL01 also driven by Mr Speed was 14 late at Acle, but on time departing Lynn at 12.45. L10-XL16 with 37568 started from Dereham this morning owing to no driver being available at Lowestoft.
On Thursday morning, 37576 had a problem with its lights and instead of working its rostered turn , the Y6-XL12 05.50 Great Yarmouth - Peterborough, it was decided to drop it down to work Y13-XL19, however, repairs weren't completed in time so instead, coach 20514 deputised on the 07.30 Yarmouth - Lowestoft and 08.15 Lowestoft - Peterborough as far as Yarmouth where 37576 was fit to continue. If one discounts this incident though, a third successive day passed without any bus swaps. Punctuality was pretty good too. Malcolm Hicks reports X2 services still giving employment for Palatines and today 34155 did the 10.38 to Norwich with 34156 doing the 15.08.
So to Friday 8th and again ten minutes was the heaviest delay noted. K14-XL01 had 37575 swapped for 37569 at lunchtime and later on 37158 off K5-XL11 replaced 37571 which had an adblu fault on L8-XL14 21.35 Lynn - Lowestoft. 37578 returned to traffic today on K4-XL10. Over at Lowestoft two successive services departed from the resort with the old timers, 34156 was the ao.38 and 34155 the 11.08 to Norwich.
Saturday passed without incident although Jamie did see an X1 on Wisbech bypass at lunchtime which was probably a reaction to an earlier accident between Swaffham and King's Lynn. 37159 is now stopped for MOT work until Thursday. Sunday 10th saw some delays on the route with Bruce reporting the 13.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough passing by with 37575 at 14.30, 19 minutes late. An hour later 37572 was also seen running 11 late, but 37569 due past him at 16.11 was on time.
Too good to last ? Well probably, but next time we will have news of forthcoming roadworks at Gorleston and Hockering as well as the week long closure of Norwich bus station for roof repairs.


Friday 25th - Thursday 31st January 2013 ~ No News Is Good News ?

Well the long awaited news about new buses will have to wait a while longer. There would appear to be nothing happening on this front before May, the only thing that seems certain is that the new fleet will number 22 vehicles, rather than the 17 B9s currently used. At the moment, the balance is made up with the B7s which were originally used on Norwich city services. More news as I receive it.
The X1 continues to operate pretty well with the existing fleet it must be said, although niggling faults are now becoming more regular on the B9s, though this is to be expected considering they have travelled on average almost half a million miles each since their introduction.

On the route, I omitted to mention that since the end of last year, the good citizens of Tilney All Saints have had the luxury of a new bus shelter and seat for eastbound passengers. The westbound stop is situated somewhat precariously with a dyke below and no room for a shelter, however, this is one of the least patronised stops west of King's Lynn.
Peter took this picture of 37156 braving the wintry elements on L11-XL17 on Friday lunchtime in Peterborough, the rear advert  claims it is 'Spring all year round' !
Friday 25th January is our first port of call in this report. K16-XL03 with 37575 was 13 late departing Lowestoft this morning, but other services ran to time. The day was marred by 37573 being removed from traffic on K15-XL02 with a failed camshaft. The service was taken over by 37579. Earlier 579 had done a trip to Peterborough and back on K5-XL11 but at 10.30 was taken off for servicing at Vancouver Avenue. 37157 which had come in from the east on Y9-XL15 was turned round to do K5 at 10.32 to Lowestoft and in a convoluted swap for which no doubt there is an explanation,  37159 then took Y9 to Peterborough at 09.45 after it had received a new windscreen. After this frenetic period, everything settled down for the rest of the day, although early evening saw Y7-XL13, the first terminator at King's Lynn from Lowestoft arrive around 50 minutes late with 37563 and with 37572 on L8-XL14 only a minute or so behind it. It was an interesting day on the X2 with 32652 appearing in the new livery and elderly Dart 43459 expiring at Beccles on the 13.38 from Lowestoft,  while on Thursday Enviro 200 no. 44513 had been seen on the 14.08 ex Lowestoft.
Saturday 26th saw 37158 halted for work to commence on its MOT preparation, but not until it had worked K3-XL09. In the late afternoon, Bruce saw 37157 on K1-XL07 running about 25 late on the 15.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough and K2-XL08 with 37565 was only about five minutes behind it. K4-XL10 had 37577 removed late in the day with a gear fault and 37567 which had arrived at just after 19.00 on L9-XL15 worked K4 forward to Great Yarmouth at 19.35. Meanwhile 37579 on K17-XL04 had to be swapped at Lowestoft and 37156 off K16-KL03 worked the last leg of K17, the 19.48 Lowestoft - King's Lynn which arrived at its destination around 20 late. 37575 passed the 500,000 miles mark today whilst working L8-XL14 !

Sunday January 27th was notable only for the use of B7 37159 on diagram XL09, this is the turn which terminates at King's Lynn at 20.44 as there is a gap in the timetable on Sundays with there being no 20.50 thence to Peterborough. 32654 had a journey on Lowestoft town service 102 today when Enviro 44512 was unavailable.
A new week is always a good time for a fresh start, but 28th January was a bad Monday.
Roy writes "Today saw the start of disruption in the Market Gates area in Great Yarmouth. The X1 services have been moved to the east side of Market Gates outside the Troll Cart public house with buses regaining their normal route via Alexandra Road, Yarmouth Way and South Quay". 37160 was 11 late from Lowestoft on K16-XL03 this morning and this afternoon Y7-XL13 arrived with 37571 14 late, while all other services seen were on time - thanks to Malcolm Hicks for this info.
Temporary traffic lights at  the Weasenham Lane Junction in Wisbech caused problems. L8-XL14 10.35 from Peterborough was the first service dealyed, it left Wisbech 2 late on the 09.48 to Peterborough, returning 17 late with 37579. To avoid the area, services then began taking the alternative route via Wisbech St. Mary, depriving passengers at Weasenham Lane of a service ! 37565 on L12-XL18 was noted at Walpole Highway on the 12.35 ex Peterborough running just 2 minutes late, but L11-XL17 had obviously taken the normal route as it then appeared behind L12 running 44 late with 37157. At around 3pm, 37563 was seen in the Old Market on the diversionary route running 5 late on K15-XL02 eastbound, while K18-XL05 then came through 13 late with 37156.
37576 was back today (Monday)  and is seen here at Walsoken on K4-XL10 08.35 from Peterborough. It did not last the day however .....
Yes 37576 was back in service today after extensive bodywork repairs, but it decided to die at Dereham on K4-XL10 at 15.45 with loss of gears. Apparently its ECU plugs needed a clean - very technical ! K4 finished up with 37571 taking the 19.35 King's Lynn - Great Yarmouth. Another swap occurred with K1-XL07 which had 37572 removed for 37564.
34108 on an X1 short negotiates the diversion from Alexandra Road into Yarmouth Way on Monday.
Photo copyright :
Tuesday 29th was if anything marginally worse for disruption than Monday as during the morning a broken down car blocked one side of the A47 between Thorney Toll and Guyhirn. Services continued to be diverted via Wisbech St. Mary. K4-XL10 09.26 Wisbech - Lowestoft with 37572 was seen at Walsoken running 29 minutes late and K5-XL11 with 37563 came along 17 late. 37564 came off Y7-XL13 at just before 11.30 with a Nox fault, but was fit again to do K17-XL04 forward to Peterborough at 13.45 replacing 37577 which again had its gears problem.
34186 leaves Norwich with a full compliment of senior citizens on an X1 short on Wednesday. Photo : Richard Thomas
To Wednesday 30th then and with the roadworks at Weasenham Lane over, buses regained their normal route in Wisbech. Timekeeping was for the most part very good with only three services seen late, K3-XL09 08.05 from Peterborough had lost 10 minutes with 37577 and K18-XL05 14.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough ran 11 late with 37159, but Y9-XL15 is thought to have become delayed by an A47 accident at Colney and it left Wisbech 36 late without its passengers who had been transferred to 37571 on L10-XL16 itself 8 late and which then followed 37157 westbound. Mid morning, 37576 failed again - this time at Norwich on K19-XL06 with a loss of gears. At some point 37564 on K4-XL10 took over K19-XL06 with noisy 37160 filling the breach on K4.
Richard Thomas captured 37578 departing Norwich on K15-XL02 10.55 to Peterborough while fitters are attending errant 37576 in the background. Check out Richard's pictures at :

The 06.52 King's Lynn - Lowestoft (K17-XL04)  with 37565 calls at its temporary stop, handy for breakfast at Wetherspoons on Wednesday morning. 34114 is leaving on a 'short' to Norwich. Photo :Des Speed
Finally on this entry to Thursday  January 31st and on my birthday I'm pleased to report the X1 running normally, seemingly without a hitch or even a swap - now that's what we like ! Des sends us a report of  a morning peak time journey today. Driving 37159 on the Y9-XL15 06.45 Gorleston JPH to Peterborough as far as King's Lynn Southgates, he was on time until queuing out of Norwich was encountered, it then took seven minutes to exit onto the A47 at Hockering. School traffic at Dereham Neatherd School meant a 10 minute deficit by this point and only one minute was gained by arrival in Lynn.
Finally today for those of you with a railway interest too, Matthew has asked me to tell you about his new blog which you can find here  :