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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