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Friday 9th August 2013 ~ Scotch on the Rocks

I have been away for a few days in the land of Lothian Buses and it is interesting to compare the ways different bus operators perform. On a few occasions I travelled on Geminis and also in one case on a Dart.

The cleanliness of the buses was excellent, but a few differences were observed in comparison to the X1 route here.  Most noticeable was the way drivers set off immediately after passengers have boarded, rather than the system here where most drivers wait for passengers to be seated. I was told this would not be possible in urban conditions. The 'Drive Green' system used by First doesn't appear to have a comparable method at Lothian and not many buses seen seemed to use adblue. While taking refreshment in one of Edinburgh's fine hostelries, the customers were startled when a Lothian Gemini passed by with a fan even louder than that on 37157, so it was nice to report that none of the First fleet seen in the area had this malady. One Gemini we used had very worn seats and a badly vibrating engine which made sitting on the back seat downstairs quite uncomfortable, however, I did notice that sensible warnings had been put up to try and prevent bad mannered passengers from putting their feet on the seats, see pictures below.

Here in X1 land since my last report, Enviro 33423 has arrived at King's Lynn as expected. It is thought that it will not be entering service yet awhile, presumably to allow maintenance staff to become acquainted with its features. Rumoured estimates for delivery of the new fleet are now late September onwards. Meanwhile, the Geminis continue to provide, for the most part, a reliable service and any delays are usually the fault of other errant motorists on the A47. Scarcely a week goes by without some sort of incident on the Guyhirn to Thorney stretch and accidents on the Acle Straight are nearly as common.
Looking at August so far, the month began with 37576 sidelined with an injector problem. a couple of years ago it looked as though this was going to be the achiles heel for the type, but this was just a blip and these days such defects are rare.37576 was off the road from 1st to 4th for repairs. On Thursday 1st, 37569 became a failure at Acle around 10.30 while working K19-XL06 with an electrical fault in its fire sensor. Later in the day it had been replaced by 37571 which had just had its MOT that morning. Gorleston High Street was closed at this time due to a water main burst. Friday 2nd din't appear to be as bad as many Summer Fridays of late. At the Wisbech end, Y13-XL19 due to depart for Peterborough at 12.19, passed me at 12.34, 14 minutes late with 37566. K14 was then observed tanking along with 37158 about 16 late. My next sighting was K19, the 15.19 departure on which 37569 was running to time. 37570 came off L10-XL16 at 13.00 to be replaced by 37578 off servicing. Whatever was wrong with 37570 couldn't have been too serious though as it then took the 17.12 Lynn - Peterborough (K5-XL11) in place of 37575.
Observations at Terrington on Saturday (3rd) lunchtime saw most services within about 7 minutes of time, but returning eastbound, L11 -XL17 turned up with 37158 at 13.24, 23 late followed closely by 37160 on L12-XL18 which was 6 late. I then discovered that these two buses should have been the other way round and that 37158 had overtaken 37160 at some point during the morning. Later in the afternoon, the 16.12 King's Lynn - Peterborough (K2-XL08) came to grief on Nar OuseWay with a major air leak on 37564, Marcus was on board and says " The driver rang Vancouver Avenue depot and 37159 was immediately dispatched. Total delay from failure to recovery 6 minutes. Amazing. Thank you First for your prompt recovery"
37159 (rear) comes to the rescue of 37564 on Nar Ouse Way. : Photo : Marcus Parry.

On Sunday 4th, I travelled to Peterborough aboard the 13.12 from Walpole Highway. I expected this to be late as it is the 09.50 from Lowestoft which is always a very busy service, particularly between there and Norwich. 37569 turned up only 11 late and proceeded westbound at comfortable speed going in to Peterborough via Boongate and arriving in the bus station 8 minutes late. With a shorter break than usual, I was deposited at the rail station just 2 minutes behind time. Only other item of note on this date was King's Lynn providing B7 37159 for XL06, the 08.54 Lynn - Peterborough and 10.15 return to Lowestoft.
Monday 5th saw a few maintenance swaps , but 37573 which worked K17-XL04 into King's Lynn from the coast at 13.37 was then despatched eastbound again on L12-XL18 at 14.00. K17 went forward with 37565 and 37563 was sent to the garage off L12. Bruce reports Monday to Wednesday services running smoothly, but in Lowestoft, Malcolm reports a nightmare day for the X2 on Monday with some morning breakdowns causing havoc. 44513 was turned out for a morning service and 34156 was also seen arriving, but at completely the wrong time. On Tuesday, Des reported slow traffic hampering the progress of 37158 on L11-XL17 16.55 Lowestoft - King's Lynn. Departure was 9 late and times were then Yarmouth -18 (after congestion), Acle -24 (more queues out of Yarmouth), -19 at Norwich, final arrival at Lynn at 20.15, 16 late.
Here are some photographs taken by Joe Watson at Norwich on Thursday morning ........
60808 arriving in Norwich on an X1 short, soon to be taken over by the 375xx series Geminis.

37159 arrives at Norwich with K16 -XL03 06.17 Lynn - Lowestoft  and Bob at the wheel. The passenger side advert is missing.

37569 working Y13-XL19 08.15 Yarmouth - Peterborough at Norwich on Thursday.

My journey home on Thursday was with 37157 on L11-XL17 which pulled into Peterborough rail station spot on time at 12.12. Our driver, whose name I can't pronounce (!) was very keen to keep time and produced a terrific performance out of 37157, departing via the Dogsthorpe route to Eye Green. With stops at Thorney and Guyhirn and a congested approach into Wisbech, we arrived punctually at 12.51, something rarely managed at this time of day and even less so with a B7 on L11-XL17.
Friday 8th saw heavy traffic throughout the day. 37563 only made it as far as Wisbech on K1-XL07 05.42 King's Lynn to Peterborough and suffered a data link fault losing its gears - this has been the most common cause of failure in the fleet in 2013. 37574 was despatched from King's Lynn to continue the service. Friday afternoon was a blackspot for punctuality as usual, Angela S texted me from Peterborough to say that 37158 on K16 was running so late that the driver took it directly from the rail station to King's Lynn, leaving her and her hubby to wait for K17 which arrived not far off its time with 37566. By this time she had been waiting almost an hour. Things got worse later though when an accident on the Thorney - Guyhirn section of the A47 (there's a surprise !) caused heavy delays. Bruce noted 37567 passing his house on K19-XL06 running 24 late and then on a journey westbound passed 37572 flailing down the Wisbech bypass with a full load on K2-XL08 at 18.32, 32 minutes late. He then encountered K3 with 37569 at Guyhirn running 28 late and K4 right behind it (37568) on time. The earlier late running meant that 37160 was turned out for K16-XL03 at 16.00 from Lynn to Lowestoft to replace 37158 and the latter then replaced an ailing 37566 on K17-XL04.

My apologies for the lack of appearance of the promised archive feature which should appear soon.

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