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Wednesday May 28th 2014 ~ Roadworks Ahead

A quick update on some forthcoming roadworks affecting the X1 . For details on the Postwick situation, go here :

For more details on how the A47 and X1 will be affected by remedial work on the Ouse Bridge at King's Lynn, go here :

A service update will follow shortly, though nothing significant to add to recent events.


Saturday 25th May 2014 ~ Big Changes On The Way.

A review of the X1 service has taken place this week. This has largely concerned the extensive roadworks which are to be taking place at the 'Postwick Hub' which commenced on 12th May and which are planned to last a massive 72 weeks. Currently there is a single lane restriction eastbound, but this is soon to encompass both directions, causing all manner of mayhem no doubt.
The scale of the disruption means it will no longer be possible to run the X1 in its present form and, at least temporarily, the route is to be split at Norwich. This will inevitably mean the transfer of a number of the Enviros to the eastern end of the route for maintenance purposes. As this is rather a sensitive issue, I cannot give more detail at the moment, but there is at least one other major change which will be to the benefit of the majority of X1 travellers. I will reveal more detail when the information becomes public. Changes to the route are likely to take place from late July. Keep monitoring the blog for the latest developments.
This week's update to follow.


Monday 19th May 2014 ~ Back on the Road

The loan of 33423 which as previously reported began on 10th May lasted until 14th, during which time it also worked K5 on Monday 12th, K16 forward from Lynn at 13.20 on 13th and then surprisingly K6 on 14th from which it was removed in the evening and replaced by 33822. 33423 returned immediately to Yarmouth. One result of the loan was that the current seat replacement programme was able to be completed. 
The buses affected by the oil cooler problem had to await parts from Alexander Dennis, with 33822 returning to traffic on 14th as outlined above, then 33814 on Thursday 15th and finally 33821 on Friday 16th. 33816 was removed from K16 at lunchtime on Tuesday 13th for its MOT preparation and returned to work on Saturday when it worked K5. Incidentally, MOTs which for many years had taken place on Thursdays, now occur on Fridays. 33813 is the current 'star of the show' having worked every day since April 25th.
The Enviros, like their predecessors are diagrammed on a pretty random basis and it is unusual to get the same vehicle on the same turn for more than a couple of days. Last week though 33811 developed a particular affinity for Great Yarmouth being garaged there every night for a week. During this time it worked turn Y13-XL19 every day from Monday through to Friday, On a similar theme, 33804 worked the internal King's Lynn diagram K15-XL02 on Monday to Thursday inclusive. 
The timetable has had a few hiccups. On Friday 9th, 33809 became embroiled in heavy traffic on K19-XL06 16.15 from Peterborough and finally passed Walpole Highway 21 late. Saturday 10th saw only minor delays, caused by a broken down lorry near Scrarning and an accident on London Road (Lynn) at Millfleet. 
Another broken down lorry caused morning delays on Tuesday 13th, this time on Guyhirn Bank. K2-XL08 due off Wisbech eastbound at 08.20 was noted arriving at 08.43 with 33807, K3-XL09 passed Bruce at Walpole at 09.38 (33 late) with 33819 and as a result, 33812 was inserted to work the turn forward from Lynn. K4 travelled via Wisbech St. Mary and was seen arriving at Wisbech 11 late. After this services resumed taking the normal route. 
Richard Adderson wrote to me on Wednesday (14th) and said "The eastbound carriageway of the Norwich Southern bypass is closed this week 8pm - 6am between A146 and Postwick junctions. I suspected the X1 might be diverted along Thorpe River Green tonight, and I was proved right. Here's the 8.35 from Norwich in the gathering gloom about 25 mins ago - awful photo but the best I could manage in the circumstances!"
Looks Ok to me Richard and thanks for taking the picture of the X1's 33803  'off route' :
Photo copyright : R. Adderson

A visit to the Woolpack at Terrington on Friday lunchtime saw Y11- XL17 pass by about 25 minutes late eastbound with L12 and 33814 only about 5 minutes behind it. The continued closure of Wisbech Town Bridge (it was due to reopen today 19th, but hasn't as yet !) saw a traffic build up in the afternoon. K15-XL02 with 33820 was seen arriving at 15.16 eastbound, 11 minutes after it should have departed. Saturday also saw some delays reports Bruce. Y11-XL17 was badly affected for the second successive day, being 27 minutes late heading east. Later K15-XL02 passed by en route to Peterborough 16 late and 33820 on K16-XL03 which failed to appear next, later came back 2 minutes early !
I had a couple of X1 trips at the weekend. On Saturday I boarded 33824 at Wisbech working K6-XL12 07.33 Swaffham - Peterborough. Departing on time, we were hampered by slow moving A47 traffic, but entering Peterborough via Boongate and the Passport Office, we were nevertheless half a minute early into Queensgate. Coming back on Sunday, I took the 16.08 from Peterborough railway station with a Lowestoft driver, 33822 left nearly a minute late, but lighter traffic saw us regain time until we came to rest in a huge queue on Guyhirn Bank. This proved to be a false alarm and whatever had caused the tailbacks in both directions had obviously cleared, so after  police and ambulance had passed through, we were away again and were only a minute late into Wisbech. Now there have been comments, both here and in other blogs about the rattling on some Enviros. I can only say that with the road surface on the A47 at the moment, it is not in the least surprising. The section between Eye Green and Thorney is appalling, particularly so near Pode Hole Quarry. Cambridgeshire County Council need to act quickly !
Lowestoft sightings have included 44513 on the 14.55 X2 to Norwich on 12th, 34114 on the 101 town service followed by the 14.55 X2 on 13th and again on 14th, 37566 on rail replacement work on 15th. 17th May saw an old X1 favourite, 34108, defying the odds and working 12.05 X2 from Norwich, while less spacious was 44513 taking the 13.35 back to Norwich. Thanks to Malcolm Hicks for his usual comprehensive notes.
"You haven't mentioned X1 adverts lately" says Robin, well that is true so here we have some examples. Kieran Smith was in Dereham on Friday just gone and managed to capture the following :
33811 was heading for Peterborough working (as it had done all week) Y13-XL19 08.15 Lowestoft - Peterborough. The advert for the horror film 'The Quiet Ones' was applied on March 30th and for a while was carried by 12 of the Enviros. Currently 33812 is the last example to carry it as 33811 had its boards changed on Sunday.
33813 is seen here with passengers boarding the 07.30 Peterborough - Lowestoft, due off  Dereham at 10.08. The advert for the national lottery can still be seen on 33813/24 although 8 Enviros originally carried this campaign from April 19th.

33819 working K4 - XL10 08.35 Peterborough - Lowestoft. The advert for Norwich Airport flights dates from April 6th and was applied to 6 of the X1 fleet but 33819 is the last to retain it.
Our last picture from Kieran features 33821 with an ad for the X-Men. A relatively new campaign fitted on May 5th , this is currently carried by 33804/5/7/21/22. This was 33821's first day on the road for a week after having been sidelined with the oil cooler problem. The working is the 08.05 from Peterborough (K3-XL09)
All photos copyright : Kieran Smith


Monday 12th May 2014 ~ Replacement Bus (es)

Just a quick newsflash to say that the hydraulic oil cooler problem which has kept 33814 off the road has now manifested itself on 33821 & 33822. These being the three 'spare' buses, it has meant 33423 has once again been called up and arrived from Great Yarmouth on Saturday. It went straight into action on Saturday afternoon taking over from 33811 on the 13.50 King's Lynn - Peterborough etc (K17-XL04).
 Today (Monday) 33423 is currently working K5- XL11 07.37 King's Lynn - Peterborough. 33816 was due to have MOT work started this week, but this may well be on hold until one of the trio is up and running again. Should there be another Enviro failure, it may be necessary to bring in further reinforcements until the situation is resolved.


Thursday 8th May 2014 ~ Reassuring Blog

On Sunday April 27th, 33822 is seen near Terrington St. John  on the 15.30 Lowestoft - Peterborough.
Well here we are at last again just to reassure you that everything has been going very well on service X1. Yes,  the Enviro fleet appear to be every bit as able as their Gemini predecessors at meeting the exacting demands of the route. 
In the period under review, 33810 has returned from bodywork repairs at Full Circle (April 29th) and 33816 also spent a few days there for minor repairs. In this connection Chris Coultas writes " When you say the Enviro's go away for bodywork repairs at Full Circle, is this as a result of accident damage or other damage sustained throughout their travels "? Well it is usually just to repair minor bodyside scrapes Chris, fortunately nothing really major has occurred in service up to this point in time. Chris continues "I have been reading your blog for some time and I think it's rather good ! Well done on creating such an amazing piece of work. I myself am hoping to travel on the X1 at some point as the Enviros look quite enticing". What a nice thing to say, - Well there we are - another fan for the X1 !

 Now then, where was I ? Oh yes what has been happening in the frontline. The MOT programme is continuing, though maybe surprisingly, the fleet are not being treated in numerical order. According to my records, so far done in chronological order are 33803/4/5/6/13/15. As I write 33807 is being prepared for the same. 33807/10/11/14/19 have undergone modifications to the seating. The initial arrangement of glued foundations having been proved to be insufficient to deter vandalism and heavy duty staples are now being used to secure seating.
Yarmouth branded Enviro 33423 helped cover the shortfall caused by the Mots and mods as previously reported working K3-XL09 from 22nd - 24th April inclusive. It didn't stay around for long though and by the weekend of 26th/27th had moved east and been procured for rail replacement work. Everybody's favourite standby was then purloined to work on the X2, presumably to cover for Gemini MOT work. Malcolm first noted it on on Monday 28th April arriving in Lowestoft at 10.00 and it remained on the route at least until May 3rd. 

33423 on the X2 photos copyright Zak (Chief Admin) Norwich Bus Page

After a period away, its nice to welcome Kieran Smith back. He says "Yep, I'm back in the game! In my absence from the enthusiast world i've missed a lot, and only managed to get a shot of SN60CAA (33423). I thought an image of it may be of use to you as it's just completed a few days on full X1 journeys. Today it was seen on rail replacements!"  
Photo copyright : Kieran Smith

Lowestoft were obviously "on the floor for power" (an expression often employed by a railway friend of mine ) on 28th as ex Jersey Dart 43868 arrived in Lowestoft on the 09.25 from Norwich and even today (8th May) Enviro 200 44513 was noted by Michael Bryant working the 10.55 X2 ex Lowestoft.

With 33423 gone from the X1 it was a case of shuffling the pack to ensure servicing commitments were met successfully and this was achieved by swapping buses on some turns. 33805 was taken off K6-XL12 on Friday last (May 2nd) as it was overheating. This kept it out of traffic until Wednesday 7th. 33814 has also not currently worked since Friday 2nd and is sidelined with a hydraulic oil cooler problem, something which has affected a few of the fleet up to now. One thing I haven't mentioned (I think) is that some of the Enviros seem to make quite a noise when accelerating. Some of this can be put down to the wind being in a certain direction, but yesterday I heard something heavy accelerating past my work - I thought it was a dustcart and was surprised to see it was 33816 coming into Wisbech slightly early on K4-XL10 to work the 09.25 to Lowestoft.
33812 leaves Norwich Bus Station where on Sunday May 4th, one lane was coned off leaving buses turning left having to use the right hand lane ! 33812 wasworking the 13.30 from Lowestoft. Photo copyright : Kieran Smith

Punctuality has been quite good of late, although Friday 2nd (before the Bank Holiday) saw delays. The 15.58 Wisbech - Peterborough with 33803 passed me 29 late and the following service with 33811 was 14 late. On Saturday 3rd, Breydon Bridge in Yarmouth stuck open between 09.30 & 10.45 causing some delays to the service.

Bank Holiday Monday 5th saw 33808 out of service after a 3 week stint on the road, it needed a new destination screen after hitting a bird, it was back out next morning though. 
At the Lowestoft end there have been more unusual sightings alongside the X1s. On 25th April the 10.40 to Martham left with 34187, an increasingly uncommon visitor these days. Next day, Saturday 26th Paragon coach 20515 was noted on rail replacement work at Lowestoft station following its displacement from the X1 shorts and Jamie Skinner bemoans the loss of the coaches, saying "the replacements are less than impressive" referring to his picture below. 
Photo copyright : Jamie Skinner

On 29th, Lowestoft town service 101 which gets an occasional mention in these columns produced 34114 on loan from Great Yarmouth and this was noted daily on the service until May 3rd, after which Malcolm went away for a few days break from his vigils at Lowestoft for us.

I mentioned the forthcoming Sacrewell Farm Rally in the last posting and Steve Knight says "Thanks for mentioning the appearance of an X1 vehicle at the Peterborough Bus Rally in July. You were quick, I only had the confirmation from David Squire on Tuesday last week. It will certainly do one of the Sacrewell Farm to Nene Valley Railway shuttles. I am really pleased that First have agreed to support the event".
Trevor Watson has written in response to Richard Adderson's query about invisible destination displays with digital photography. He suggests using a rotating polarised filter as a possible remedy. Thanks to all of you who take the trouble to contact me and I apologise that time doesn't always permit an email reply, I do though try and include your comments here in the blog. 

A quick look at the Enviro 400 mileages, mostly to the nearest 100 updated to end of service tonight.
33811  71200
33812  69500
33808  66800
33807  66300
33818  65677
33821  65606
33806  63100
33805  62900
33816  62800
33815  62300
33820  61500
33804  60768
33810  60752
33814  60000
33817  59700
33823  59500
33824  58600
33813  57900
33822  57400
33809  55000
33819  54300
33803  53800

Many of the anomalies are due to the staggered arrival of the fleet, that being said one would expect first arrival 33803 to top the mileages when ironically, the reverse is the fact. Its early problems after delivery having cut its mileage drastically. 


Wednesday May 7th 2014 ~ update

Just to let you all know, I have not given up on the blog, just rather a lack of events worth reporting, however, I plan to do the normal update tomorrow evening (Thursday). Regards, Gerard