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Wednesday 19th March 2014 ~ Running with the X1

33807 departing from Norwich as the 10.00 service to Peterborough on Sunday 16th. Photo copyright : Sam Larke
The Enviro 400s continue their domination of the X1 in a quiet manner - so quiet in fact that Bruce reckons they creep up behind him when he is cutting the hedge and he keeps missing the numbers - too busy waving at the drivers I suspect !
33813 which had a problem with a roof pod has been back on the road since last Tuesday (11th) and 33804 became the second of the fleet to receive an MOT on 14th being noted back in service the following day. The only bus in difficulties has been 33809 which back on Friday 7th overheated due to a hydraulic oil leak. It then spent five days off road for remedial work before returning to traffic on Thursday 13th.
33812 is the months star performer having worked on every day between February 24th and today (March 19th). It has accumulated almost 54,000 miles to date, something already achieved by 33811.
Punctuality has been very good with a blip on Friday 14th after an rta on the Acle Straight delayed some services by up to 20 minutes.
Sunday saw four of the occupants of  King's Lynn garage with windscreen fractures, here's another photographed by Jamie Skinner on Monday 10th, note the crack creeping up from the bottom of the screen, Jamie does however mention the cheery driver. 

Faulty LED displays and confusing announcements have also been reported, but this would seem to be linked to patchy GPS coverage at certain points in the route. 
Sam Larke was out with his camera in Norwich on Sunday - the second Sunday in a row where temperatures have soared and here are some more of his pictures taken that day :
For the second consecutive year, X1 vehicles are carrying a variety of adverts for services from Norwich Airport, probably a good idea as Easyjet are currently trying to make Norfolk travellers aware that Stansted is (allegedly)  not that far away ! 
Here we have 33821 arriving at Norwich on the 08.27 King's Lynn - Lowestoft on Sunday. Photo : Sam Larke

The only X1 not reported to me on Sunday was this one and Sam photographed it twice  ! 33821 departs Norwich eastbound in the fine Spring sunshine. Photo : Sam Larke

This coming Friday (21st) is Sport Relief day and in association with this, First Eastern will have staff running/cycling the X1 route for this worthy cause. Here's the link if you'd like to help them reach their target :

Thanks to all my regular correspondents, particularly Malcolm in Lowestoft for his comprehensive reports. The regular team are a bit thin on the ground now, with Bruce stuck behind the hedge, Des just back from sunbathing in Spain and Cheryl having moved house to near Whittlesea, plus Peter and Angela living it up in the USA again !! Hope to see you all again soon.

A sparkling 33823 arrives in Norwich working Sunday's 08.54 Wisbech - Lowestoft. Photo : Sam Larke


Sunday 9th March 2014 ~ Summer's Here (?)

Well I guess it must be, today everyone seems to have shed their Winter clothes and we are basking in temperatures of almost 20'c . It's sort of like the winter we never had, the X1 being unimpeded by icy roads and snow unlike previous years. Even the now famous crop of sugar beet on the site masthead has been moved today after many weeks when it was too wet to work.
So what's been going on in the last couple of weeks ? As you'd expect from the lack of an update, the answer is very little. Some of the Enviros have now reached the 50,000 mile mark with little untoward to report. Noticeable by its absence recently though has been 33813 which has been sidelined with an air conditioning problem. It has been out of service waiting a new roof panel after rectfication and has not worked since February 25th. Fortunately the other Enviros seem to have been in good health and the only other absentee was 33803 which is the first of the new vehicles to undergo MOT. This kept it off the road between 22nd February and 4th March. Although the new buses are less than six months old, the MOT programme has to be staggered in order to avoid all the fleet being due simultaneously.

Reports elsewhere of the final X1 movements of Paragon coaches 20514/5 seem to have been a bit premature, Jamie Skinner says both were still in action on shorts on February 24th and sent these pictures of 20515 :

Photos by kind permission of Jamie Skinner.

Peter has been in touch regularly lately and has had good X1 journeys apart from one where the upper deck was ice cold for some reason. He adds "I see the mindless yobbery have already been at work " :

It is difficult to imagine what small satisfaction the person who did this achieved for their vandalism. On a similar note, there was an incident on the evening of March 1st when some clowning got out of hand on the upper deck of 33810 and a youth ended up inadvertently headbutting the front screen, shattering the glass. The police escorted the culprits away on arrival at Yarmouth.

33811 adds to its already considerable mileage on Sunday 2nd March working the 14.05 Peterborough - Lowestoft.

With little happening on the route, talk of forthcoming changes are as rife as ever. One school of thought is that, in an effort to renew the X1s express image, certain services may run fast over the eastern section, missing out such places as Hockering, while at the western end of the route, some buses could run directly from Lynn to Wisbech then Peterborough avoiding the villages and Thorney. Whether this would work is open to debate. If the plan does come to fruition, it would almost certainly knock on the head the possibility of diverting services via Wisbech St. Mary.
One definite change that will be taking place is that the Vancouver Avenue garage at King's Lynn, which has been home to First, formerly Eastern Counties and its predecessors since around 1930 will be vacated sometime in the next two years, as that is when the lease on the building expires. The site is earmarked for a new road which is planned,  to avoid vehicles having to negotiate the narrow arch through the historic South Gates. What would happen then is anyone's guess ? Either a new purpose built facility would have to be found, or maybe, as in other parts of the country where it has worked successfully, a deal might be struck with Stagecoach (Norfolk Green) to outsource the cleaning and maintenance. As it is, Norfolk Green themselves are allegedly also looking for new, larger premises.

On the route, there was a rare sight at lunchtime on Wednesday 26th when 33812 was viewed taking the Tilney and Wisbech bypases en route to Peterborough on K15-XL02, running approximately 25 minutes late. The service returned from Peterborough on time. An accident in thick fog in the Thorney area early on Saturday March 1st also saw some services returning eastbound down the same bypass to make up time.
There have been a number of A47 incidents involving roadworks and minor accidents, but none of this has badly affected the X1 timetable.
Much activity at King's Lynn bus station as passengers alight from 33809 which will form the 09.10 departure to Peterborough. 3/3/14