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Sunday June 30th 2013 ~ Part Two !

Two blogs in a day, now that is going something ! There are further developments afoot it would seem.
One of the ex Ensign Enviro 400s may be on the way to King's Lynn (is it tacho fitted ?)  to enable the first of the B9 Geminis to depart for repainting. Nothing concrete yet, but I will be informed immediately if and when this happens. The vehicle concerned is likely to be SN60CAA.
The plans for reallocation of the existing fleet may have changed too, the latest prediction is that all the B9s will be shifted to Yarmouth and Lowestoft, while the B7s are supposed to be off to Newcastle-Under-Lyme for further use. Don't forget you read it here first - but only if it turns out to be true !!

Sunday 30th June 2013 ~ Midsummer Gone

Don't know about you but with Midsummer's Day being last Monday, it makes me wonder whether we are going to get any proper Summer ? Nearly every time I've had the camera out it has been a dull overcast day.
Anyway, time to look at the past week on the X1. 37579 has been out of service for the whole week due to a brake fault, but as of Saturday night (29th)  it did appear to have been repaired and looked ready for service again. Sunday 23rd passed incident free and Monday was a good day with all bar one services running within 5 minutes of schedule. The exception was of course L11-XL17 which was 10 late from Wisbech with 37159, cut to 6 late returning from Peterborough. several services ran marginally early today including K17-XL04 15.08 from Peterborough which came into Wisbech 2 minutes early with 37569. Yarmouth starters Y7-XL13 and Y9-XL15 both changed buses at Lynn at 08.45 & 09.45 respectively. 37158 was needed for servicing and 37576 had a fault I understand. Later 37566 came off K4-XL10 with a rejuvenated 37576 taking it forward.
Dave Hodkinson was waiting for a Routemaster to Hemsby on Monday when he spotted 20514 having arrived on an X1 short at Yarmouth.
37571 at Yarmouth Market Gates working K2-XL08 12.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough on Monday - Dave says "Thank goodness Wetherspoons is just by the bus station" - at least I think that's what he said ! Photo : Dave Hodkinson.

On Tuesday  morning from around 10.00 - 11.00 there was slow traffic betwen Guyhirn and Thorney which affected several services. Y6-XL12 09.38 from Peterborough (37575) was 14 late into Wisbech followed by Y7-XL13, the 10.08 (37567) 21 late. L8-XL14 with 37565 must have taken a diversion because it appeared at 11.24, just 4 late and only 13 minutes behind 37567. Y9-XL15 with 37160 seemed to be the last service delayed and this was 15 late. K5-XL11 and L10-XL16 swapped buses during the day. Interestingly, despite Y7-XL13 running late because of the above, it was only 3 late  by the time Des boarded it to work the 15.42 Yarmouth - Lynn. His log shows they were 3 late departing Norwich, but congestion then took hold meaning they were 7 late at Easton and after queuing in Dereham, Necton was passed 15 late. Final arrival in Lynn was 12 late at 18.19.
Especially for Calvin, here is 37570 arriving in Norwich on Tuesday on K19-XL06 07.20 Wisbech - Lowestoft. Photo : Joe Watson/NBP
The rear arrangement of 37156 in Excel livery makes interesting comparison with 37578 below. Here 37156 is seen at Norwich on Tuesday : Joe Watson /NBP
37578 at Norwich on Tuesday while working the K2-XL08 12.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough. [Joe Watson/NBP]
Finally from Joe, a look at one of the Volvo single deckers which are sometimes used on X1 shorts.

I was not about on Wednesday which was the first day of the Royal Norfolk Show, however, services ran very well and were not subject to the heavy delays experienced a few years ago. Somehow K1-XL07 and K2-XL08 which started out with 37570 and 37571 swapped buses suggesting that the latter overtook K1 at some point.  K19-XL06 passed Bruce 14 late this afternoon on the 14.45 King's Lynn - Peterborough with 37576. Des reports L11-XL17 16.55 Lowestoft - King's Lynn (37156) having a pretty punctual journey with light traffic and loadings despite the Norfolk Show. Here traffic is co-ordinated by lights and arrival in Dereham was only 9 late, improved to just 3 minutes late arriving at Lynn.
On to Thursday 27th and again delays were very much in the minority. 37570 on L8-XL14 appeared outside my window 2 minutes early this morning on the 10.19 Wisbech - Peterborough and later 37578 went supersonic , being 3  late on K14-XL01 12.49 to Peterborough and incredibly, following last weeks record performance by 37575, even this was outshone when it returned into Wisbech at shortly before 14.17, over 3 minutes ahead of time. Buses ran well except K18-XL05 with 37160 which was 17 late into Lowestoft this morning, then this afternoon 14 late going west and 10 late returning when I boarded it at Walpole Highway. Despite its loud fan, the journey into King's Lynn was very comfortable and the fan noise was inaudible inside the bus. K4-XL10 and L12-XL18 both swapped buses during the day for maintenance purposes. The impact of Norfolk Show traffic was again less disruptive as illustrated by Des who says "Today on Y7-XL13 15.42 Yarmouth - Lynn we ran well with 37577. Traffic arrangements for the show this year were excellent. Traffic past the Showground and Easton was kept moving by holding up through traffic along the Southern Bypass westbound and A47 eastbound at the roundabout at the most westerly point of the bypass. On both show days, I had arrived in Dereham before the Konect 8 that had left Norwich minutes before me. Our progress with the heavier traffic saw us 10 late at Hockering, then Dereham Market -12 (17.17), Dereham Toftwood -17 (17.28), Necton - 19 (17.44), Swaffham - 14 (17.51), Narborough -14 (17.59), East Winch -15 (18.04), Arrive Lynn -12 18.19.
37569 passing through Walpole Highway on K3-XL09 16.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough on Thursday.
Friday 28th went well until lunchtime. 37570 on Y13-XL19 was seen at Walton Highway 12 late heading for Peterborough, but it then became the first service to be delayed by an accident near Thorney. The afternoon service then became chaotic as buses became embroiled in the queues. 37570 came back 29 late, with 37565 on K14-XL01 just 4 minutes behind it. 37564 on K15-XL02 wasn't seen. K16-XL03 then came through with 37156 38 late. K17-XL04 with 37576 was 24 late westbound from King's Lynn and wasn't seen by me until it returned eastbound into Wisbech at 16.33, 43 minutes late. Somehow K19-XL06 with Mr. Saban on 37567 managed to avoid the delays and was 2 late from Wisbech and only 7 late coming back. It then turned out that K19 had overtaken K18-XL05 which was 37157 and which came into Wisbech 46 late at 17.06. Stepping up of vehicles occurred at Lynn to get the Lowestoft bound service back to timetable.
Saturday passed off much more peacefully with only K18-XL05 noted late, it left the Southgates for Peterborough at 14.35 with 37159, 15 late. 37576 was removed from Y6 tonight as it is required at Volvo on Monday for attention to an oil level sensor.


Saturday 22nd June 2013 : Lothian Loathing and other stories

Well it's been a quiet period on the X1 route since my last report on 14th. Firstly here's a quick look back at how the service has fared.
Saturday 15th was a day of incident with 37563 in trouble on L8-XL14. Dashboard warnings were showing, but although 37574 was despatched from King's Lynn eastbound to replace 37563, in the event this was unnecessary and 37563 was able to continue, being seen on time working the 20.15 from Peterborough. An hour earlier 37566 had failed on the 19.15 ex Peterborough with a fractured water pipe and 37159 which had arrived in King's Lynn at just after 18.00 on the terminating Y7-XL13 was utilised to work the 20.33 to Lowestoft. This left just 37158 of the B7's at Lynn on Sunday, usually there are up to 4 in evidence.
20514 at Norwich on an X1 short on the afternoon of Saturday 15th. Photo : Matthew Holland.
Sunday 16th saw some examples of late running with 37576 passing Walpole 15 late on the 12.50 from King's Lynn westbound, but it had recouped most of this by the time it returned being just 2 minutes late. 37571 was seen arriving at the Southgates from Lowestoft at 13.51 - this service is now scheduled to depart the bus station for Peterborough at 13.54. Finally, the 16.54 King's Lynn - Peterborough was seen at Walsoken at 17.28 (9 late) with 37156 having earlier replaced 37568 eastbound at Yarmouth for reasons unknown. 37572 was taken off XL04 this evening with a shattered window and 37574 worked forward.
34113 earning its keep on an X1 short seen near the Blofield roundabout on Monday. Photo : Joe Watson/NBP.

It was my Mum's funeral on Monday and a contingent from Scotland came down to Peterborough on the train taking the X1 forward to Wisbech. Here is Stuart's report which should not be taken too seriously - my comments follow afterwards :
"The City of Edinburgh Council's Transport Convenor Lesley Hynds recently said that Lothian Buses was "not just the best bus company in Britain but the best bus company in the world". This was to launch Lothian's new state-of-the-art hybrid single deckers in April at a cost of £2.5 million. It is therefore perhaps unlikely that a contingent of Scottish transport enthusiasts coming south of the border would be enchanted with what was on offer on the 120 mile diagram between Peterborough and Lowestoft - a service operated by, shall we say for fun, the less successful company 'First' on 6 year old rather grubby and unserviced Volvo Wright Gemini deckers. 
In a lightning strike yesterday, joining fleet number 37157 between Peterborough and Wisbech, the four bus critiques - one of which is the current Chairman of the Scottish Tramway Society and another an official photographer for the year-on-year award winning Lothian Buses, endured a journey of around 45 minutes to Wisbech bus station in what can only be described as not the best in the world.
The funeral party board 37157 at Peterborough rail station. Photo copyright : Stuart Montgomery's L****an Buses

On boarding the late arriving Gemini at Peterborough railway station (First's real-time tracker display leaves much to be desired) the driver was not shall we say awfully pleased to see four men in formal dark suits presenting Scottish sterling notes as an offering for the £4.50 fare. "What's this"? This was followed by "and another" wouldn't get this at Lothian! What ever happened to 'Hello and welcome'?
So off we go and the upper saloon did seem at first quite smart....we took our seats. Immediately the fan of the vehicle roared at an almost soprano pitch - this was complimented throughout the journey by intense vibrating when the bus stopped, indicating poor timing within the engine area. The bus was sluggish and lacked rhythmic vitality - the intensity of the vibrating and screeching of the fan scared one of our party so much that he was forced to grip the vertical hand rail for fear of being thrown onto the aisle. 
Grim faced Frank Mitchell, the Chairman of the STS holds on for dear life (allegedly !)

The photo of this grim faced man demonstrates clearly his anguish. At Lothian buses a vehicle performing like this would be removed immediately and taken in for servicing. 
Quite by chance we had located ourselves at a seat which had lost it's handle - the broken off top had been painted over in a vulgar manner,  most unsightly. The photograph demonstrates that passengers sitting in this seat have nothing to hold on to and could easily be propelled on to the floor at any moment. 
It was a pleasurable experience to alight at Wisbech to the safety of the road surface - in thanking our driver for the journey I received no response - something unheard of at Lothian.  
All in all it was an interesting experience and our trip on 37157 will be remembered for all sorts of reasons".
37157 roars out of Wisbech bus station on its merry jaunt to Lowestoft. Photo : Stuart Montgomery.

Well now, it would appear our guests were less than impressed, but let's put a few things straight shall we ? The part I take exception to the most is that 37157 is described as unserviced. Regular readers will know that safety services are made at very strict intervals and the mechanical attention lavished on these buses is second to none, One only has to look at the almost entirely failure free stats for the B7s to realise that the standards of maintenance must be very high indeed. 37157 itself has accumulated 39,500 miles in the five months since mid January - a figure which I doubt is ever achieved by any single bus in the Lothian fleet over a whole year. Monday was its 134th day in service this year and the number of breakdowns in service for 37157 in this period ? You've guessed it, precisely zero ! As we have discussed numerous times, the B7s do suffer a bit on the punctuality front due to their 48mph max speed setting and I suggest that the sluggish performance was down to this. I particularly recall Stuart being very impressed by the top speed of 37570 a couple of years back, something he'd never experienced with the suburban services operated by Lothian. It is unfair in my opinion to describe 'First' as less successful than the Edinburgh based operator. Compared to the huge fleet of buses at 'First', Lothian's can best be described as a drop in the ocean, however, to be fair, I have always been impressed by the smaller companies vehicles cleanliness. I also recall a Lothian 'Gemini' with a screeching fan on one of my visits to the City, I think Stuart was looking the other way at the time ! I will just add that the Lothian drivers had better be on their best behaviour next time I am up there, because I will be listening out for my big welcome. Oh and just to mention that we have a certain amount of investment (already related in this blog) in the next couple of months !
Elsewhere during the day 37575 was 15 late into Lowestoft on L8-XL14 before continuing on the 15.25 to Peterborough and Des had a trip to the city on K16-XL03 with 37566. All went well until delays were encountered in Wisbech after a Venni lorry broke down near De Havilland Road which meant a 7 minute late departure, however, Peterborough was reached on time - marvellous things these new timings ! His return trip was dogged by the perennial A47 problem, three tractors between Thorney and Guyhirn ! Des says "I got past one and then had to stop at Thorney Toll where it overtook me again ! I was 7 late from Wisbech, but a good run saw us into Lynn just 2 minutes late".

On Tuesday 18th 37563 began the day on K4, but 37568 took over at King's Lynn at 10.00, here she is arriving in Norwich at 11.40. 568 seems to like working K4-XL10 and this was its seventh appearance on the turn in the last month. Photo : Joe Watson / NBP

So on we move to Tuesday 18th and a good day for punctuality in the west  with the exception of L11-XL17 which was 37573 running 10 late for its 11.19 departure from Wisbech to Peterborough. Incidentally it had only been 4 late on Monday with our friends on 37157 ! A notable working on this date was made by 37575 on Y13-XL19 13.08 Peterborough - Lowestoft which made history by passing my window at 13.47, three minutes early and the earliest I have ever seen a bus arriving from Peterborough in almost nine years of observing the X1 !! Further east, Malcolm reports less success at Lowestoft where single lane traffic outside Great Yarmouth Asda due to line painting caused 37578 on Y6-XL12 to depart 10 late on the 14.25 to Peterborough. Y7 then arrived 34 late with 37577, departing 24 late westbound. Des was around shortly afterwards driving Y9-XL15 which was 37571 and this left Yarmouth 25 late on its way to Lowestoft. 
 Wednesday was a good day with just Y13-XL19 running notably late, 37570 was 15 late at Walpole on the 12.03 to Peterborough. Y7-XL13 and K15-XL02 both swapped vehicles at Lynn to fit in maintenance requirements. Des reports a frustrating journey with 37156 on Y7-XL13 : " Arrived Norwich on time. Could not get onto stand A or B, both blocked by Konnect. Konnect 8 departed 16.24, I loaded on stand A and departed -4 (16.29), slow A47, arrived Dereham 1st stop at 17.06, slow in Dereham and stopped most stops, departed last Dereham stop at 17.37 (31 minutes to negotiate Dereham!)". Gorleston High Street reopened to buses today.
Thursday was uneventful on the X1, but in Lowestoft the 14.48 X2 had to be cancelled after Malcolm reports 34155 faling. Incidentally, Zak Nelson of the Norwich bus page has commendably revived the idea of an X2 blog, here is the link :

Two services ran late on Friday, L11-XL17 again, this time running 17 late with 37571 after 37156 was taken off (and later put back on) at Lynn. 37571 was seen near Walton Highway on the way back  now 18 late. Then the 12.45 from Lynn to Peterborough (K15-XL02) passed through also 17 late with 37563. This made up some time and came back 14 late. 
Saturday 22nd saw me take a trip on the X1 to Peterborough. We travelled on the 12.03 from Walpole Highway, diagram no, XL19 -Y13. Our bus was 37566 which is one I've not travelled on before. This really was a most pleasant surprise, very comfortable suspension, absolutely no rattles and a credit to 'First'. Bernie was our chauffeur for this, possibly my smoothest X1 journey ever. I ought to add that 37566 is really the black sheep of the fleet, having spent more time out of service than all the other B9s excepting Thorney crash victim 37571. 37566 has currently travelled 499,000 miles so has almost reached the landmark half million miles. We sat upstairs about half way down and enjoyed the journey. We were six late from Walpole, 2 late from Wisbech and after loading at Queensgate, dead on time at the rail station at 13.12 and this despite heavy traffic on the A47 at Thorney and queues leading up to Eye Green.

37563 arrives at Queensgate on Saturday afternoon.

Coming home, we took K17-XL04 with 37563. Departing from Queensgate and the Rail Station almost 3 late, driver Wayne C took the route out back past the bus station via the passport office. By this time it had become apparent that 37563 was greatly different in terms of comfort to 37566. Rattles, bumpy suspension and to be honest, showing signs of its age. This was particularly felt over the stretch near Pasture House Farm where the A47 badly needs resurfacing. Nevertheless, our driver was determined to try and keep time. The section from Guyhirn to Wisbech Cromwell Road roundabout was covered in just 4 minutes 11 seconds which must be a record. The congestion out of Peterborough had lost us time though and we were seven minutes late into Wisbech at 15.58. We left the service at Walpole just 5 late with our driver heading for a break at Lynn before a further trip to Lowestoft and back. His shift finishing at Lynn at 00.44 !
We passed several other services of course, but only L9-XL15 11.08 ex Peterborough was markedly late seen running 15 down with 37570.

37158 negotiates the roundabout with Parnwell Way and Paston Parkway as it approaches Peterborough on K18-XL05 on Saturday afternoon.

Now for all those of you who think the blog is becoming a little less anoraky, (surely not ??) here's a chart with the adverts currently worn by the X1 vehicles - many of these will be changed tonight.


Friday 14th June 2013 ~ Theres' a hole in my road !

20514 at Caister Road. Photo : Joe Watson /NBP
Not much time of late with my personal circumstances outlined previously, so a quick bulletin of recent events. On Thursday 6th I used the X1 for a brief visit to Peterborough - I can recommend the Oakham Ales in the Brewery Tap, which is very handily situated for the bus station. I travelled outward on the 11.19 from Wisbech with 37156 and departure was at 11.22. A stop at Weasenham Lane meant our lateness had increased to 5 minutes by Guyhirn and this was the same at Thorney, however, the new timings meant we were just 2 late into Peterborough bus station. After loading we were away on time at 11.08 and arrival at the railway station was at just after 11.10 which was a minute or so early. On the way home on the 16.08 from Queensgate the bus was 37572 but with the same driver (John Frangou). Departure was to the second and although earlier we had arrived via Boongate, this time we left from the rail station via Dogsthorpe. Arrival in Thorney was dead on time at 16.29, but we had lost 2 minutes by Guyhirn. A good drive meant Wisbech was reached just a minute late and departure was on time, something this particular service rarely manages. Likewise my arrival at Walpole.
On Sunday 9th, 37160 working XL06 10.10 from Peterborough to Lowestoft was in trouble at Norwich being unable to start. Dart 42929 was noted by Malcolm arriving at Lowestoft in its place. 37160 was repaired and back in traffic on Monday, but Cheryl reports 37578 which has been a bit dodgy lately in trouble on K5-XL11 17.42 from Peterborough losing power at Thorney, Guyhirn and approaching Wisbech before finally expiring at Tilney. Monday also saw another casualty when 37576 suffered a water leak in Norwich bus station while working K1-XL07. It was taken to Rowntree Way and 37570 took over the turn later.
Now here's something unusual , Zak photographed Norwich branded 33007 on an X1 short on 12th June. Photo : Zak Nelson /NBP.
 Diversions in Gorleston are reported by Des and Roy. Roy says "You may have heard that a hole appeared in Gorleston High Street on 7th following the collapse of a mains sewer in the middle of the road with all buses diverted from the High Street as a result. The X1 is being diverted along Beccles Road and Church Road before rejoining the normal route on Church Lane. I witnessed some bus activity on Church Road earlier this afternoon (9th) and saw buses stopping outside the Gorleston Parish Church (southbound) and on the opposite side of the road opposite the junction with Lovewell Road (northbound)". 
37569 on the 14.48 Lowestoft - Peterborough (XL05) passing the Kevill Arms in Gorleston with St. Andrew's Church in the background. Photo : Roy/ENBB.
The road closure in Gorleston. Photo : Roy /ENBB.

Roy continues "The location of the bus stops appear to be quite arbitrary as there are no temporary flags in place denoting where the 'official' stops are. Anglian Water says repairs are likely to take seven days to complete". 
More diversion pics from Des. The High Street reopened to cars only on 14th. Here is 37566 on the XL07-K1 07.03 Peterborough - Lowestoft on the diversion in Gorleston.
37572 wends its way westbound through Gorleston as the 10.25 Lowestoft - Peterborough (K17-XL04). Photo : Des Speed
 The remainder of the week in the west was uneventful though, with delays limited to Thursday when tree cutting on Guyhirn Bank meant some services in the middle of the day used the route via Wisbech St.Mary.
37566 was out of use from 9th to 13th for MOT work and as mentioned earlier 37578 has been troublesome with a data link fault. 37564 re-entered traffic on June 7th after bodywork repairs at Full Circle.
Over on the X2 ten buses are now required to run the service, so appearances by the Lowestoft based Palatines continue unabated. My thanks as ever to our regular correspondents, especially Cheryl, Malcolm, Bruce and Des.
Photo copyright : Joe Watson/NBP


Tuesday 4th June 2013 ~ More Time

37574 in the sunshine at Walpole on Saturday May 25th
I ought to explain the reason for the long time since I last posted. I have been caring for my Mum at home and she passed away on Monday, so this will probably allow me to make more frequent blog entries from now on. Thanks to those of you who have been in touch with your sympathies, much appreciated.
I won't make this a very long posting for obvious reasons and the best way to show what the buses have been up to is to show a chart in this respect. Click on this for an enlarged version.

All in all things have been behaving well and the only surprise was on Sunday last when 37575 suffered a water pump failure and Norwich Gemini 36168 came into King's Lynn on the late 00.44 arrival. The Norwich bus was taken back on Monday and exchanged for 37575 which had been repaired at Vulcan Road. 37566 has returned from a tidying up of bodywork at Full Circle and 37564 is also expected to return shortly from the same treatment. On Spring Bank Holiday Monday, 37576 failed at Blofield and 37158 was sent out from King's Lynn to replace it on the 09.50 from Lowestoft.
37160 on Southtown Road, Great Yarmouth on Thursday 23rd. Photo : Joe Leathers /NBP.
You can't win them all as they say and on Friday 24th, 37565 on the first westbound service from Yarmouth (XL12) was taken off at Lynn and replaced by 37575. This then came to a halt at Walton Highway with a fault and passengers waiting at Wisbech for the 08.48 to Peterborough had to wait around 50 minutes for the next bus which was very busy. My friend Kim and her family decided to use the X1 to travel to Peterborough station and then catch the train for a weekend in York. They missed three trains due to the incident with 37575 and I had to assure her that this type of event is quite uncommon.
The same day XL02-K15 was not seen west of Wisbech and 37160 was noted on XL03-K16 carrying a double load in both directions. Friday 31st was the only other day with heavy delays, culminating in XL05-K18 running 28 late from Wisbech with 37156. XL06-K19 following was 37574, running 17 late and things then got back to normal.
Finally I have been sent some pictures of the ex Ensign buses stored at Dagenham awaiting repainting etc