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Sunday August 31st 2014 ~ Old Timers

33805 passing through Walpole Highway this evening (Sunday 30th) spot on time forming the 19.00 service to Peterborough. 
A quiet period since the last posting, although vehicle shortages at Great Yarmouth have been responsible for some older buses appearing on the Norwich to Lowestoft section of the X1.
Problems with the Enviro 400s have included 33807 requiring a new gearbox which was fitted at Great Yarmouth. 33807 was out of service between 2nd & 23rd August and also in trouble is 33822 which requires major attention. It was last reported by Malcolm in service on 15th August.
The bus rally season has its climax on September 21st with Showbus once again being held at Duxford. King's Lynn depot will be taking an Enviro 400 (rumoured to be 33813) to the event and elsewhere it is reported that 33423 will also be in attendance - plans to paint this and two of the X1 Geminis in the blue livery which adorns the Enviros have drawn negative feedback from some enthusiasts. On the positive side, this will mean spare blue liveried vehicles will be available to serve the western part of the route when required without the Great Yarmouth branding, which does look a little odd in Peterborough - especially if the bus is only travelling as far as Norwich !

I had a couple of X1 days out recently and on Friday 22nd visited Peterborough. The diversion which was due to finish at the end of the month, but which now seems destined to be extended, via Weasenham Lane adds about 3 minutes to the average X1 journey. My return on the 14.45 eastbound was not without incident. Traffic congestion was in evidence immediately after rejoining the A47 at Thorney bypass roundabout. We crawled through to Guyhirn and then took the diversion via Wisbech St. Mary to avoid a broken down car on Guyhirn Bank which was causing huge tailbacks. This was my first time through here on a bus since the 1970s ! We met a westbound service on Barton Road also using the alternative route. As is often the case on a Friday, the timetable became fiction, and Jamie who was on the service following ours actually arrived here over an hour behind us. Two buses had apparently arrived at Peterborough simultaneously and one went direct to King's Lynn to regain some time.

Friday 29th also saw the service disrupted when a car and a motorcycle were in collision near the Pullover Roundabout at around 11.15. Bus diagrams went out of the window and the late running 13.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough with 33803 was terminated at Wisbech. It then ran empty to Thorney to form the return working. Buses were swapped randomly and 33814 which had worked the 14.15 Peterborough - Norwich was turned round at King's Lynn to form the 15.45 back to Peterborough. Delays were considerable with 33810 on the 11.35 Lynn - Peterborough passing Bruce at Walpole Highway 41 late. The previous service came back from Peterborough 48 late with 33806 departing Wisbech  at 14.13.
Saturday 30th also seems to have suffered, though I am not certain why. The 15.15 King's Lynn - Peterborough ran around 35 late and the bus following it, 33808 was noted at Walpole Highway heading back east at 18.48, 29 late.

Malcolm reports some interesting observations from Lowestoft. Friday 15th witnessed 34109 on the 11.00 1a to Martham, while 44513  did the 13.55 X2 to Norwich and 44512 followed it, albeit 16 late on the 14.35 service. Next day saw old timers 34111 on the 11.00 and 34186 the  11.30 departures to Martham. Gemini 37564 did an odd move, it arrived on the 10.25 Yarmouth - Lowestoft X1 and then resumed its usual work on the 11.15 X2 to Norwich. On 18th 42358 put in an appearance on the X2 working the 14.55 Lowestoft - Norwich and the following day it was the turn of 44513 on the 13.55 and 34186 on the 11.00 to Martham. The variety continued on 20th with 66126 turned out for the 11.00 to Martham and next day it did the 10.00 instead. 33823 did the 09.45 Yarmouth - Lowestoft X1 on 21st but the return working at 10.40 was cancelled with the Enviro being declared out of service. On Saturday 23rd 37574 failed in Lowestoft bus station and the 11.00 X1 to Yarmouth was cancelled as a result, this was while 37572 busied itself on the 101 town service. On 24th, the aforementioned 33423 took interested parties to the Old Buckenham bus rally with Des Speed at the helm, where by all accounts, a good time was had by all.
34111 in frontline service once more on 27th August. Photo : Steve W.
The nadir of  X1 availability was felt on Wednesday 27th when 34114 was pressed into service together with sister 34111 which managed around 10 hours on the route east of Norwich. So to 28th when another surprise turned up at Lowestoft, this time 60814 worked the 11.00 X1 to Yarmouth.

Currently 33816 is undergoing modification to the hydraulic oil cooler fault, while 33807 seems to have settled back into service after sounding rather noisy on its first day back on the road.


Thursday 14th August 2014 ~ 100,000 Miles

Following last week's incident with the Wisbech diversion, the X1 has been travelling from the Horsefair Bus Station down the A1101 Churchill Road turning right into Weasenham Lane before rejoining the normal route on Cromwell Road. John Knight reports that temporary bus stops have been installed in Weasenham Lane to cater for passengers who normally use the stop located between Oldfield Lane and the Weasenham Lane Junction. This is despite the fact that the normal route down Nene Quay has been open westbound as advertised. May be it is deemed a better option to use the alternative route in both directions.
33807 has been absent from the route since the beginning of the month after its gearbox became unserviceable following its failure near Narborough on 1st. After an investigation it was decided that it should be taken to Great Yarmouth where the facilities are more suited to heavy engineering. It arrived there earlier this week, but this has left King's Lynn with just a single spare vehicle which has fortunately been sufficient thus far.
Not a great deal else to report, the King's Lynn bypass has now reopened and buses are no longer travelling via South Lynn. King's Lynn garage are currently short of drivers and adverts for recruitment have appeared on the companies Twitter feed. The new timetable requires two additional car lines which are yet to be allocated drivers, but up to now a full service has been run with no cancellations I believe.

A driver I spoke to tonight says the Enviros do vary in their performance. As we have mentioned before, 33803 is definitely not a good one and is rather sluggish, while 33814 is just the opposite and is a favourite. The Yarmouth based Enviros have settled in now although 33821 had the indignity of suffering a puncture at the James Paget Hospital on 7th August see picture below

The X2 continues to see occasional appearances of single deck vehicles recently noted were on 6th August 44513 on the 14.35 to Norwich with 42358 working the 14.25 ex Norwich. Malcolm also reports a correction, it was 34186 which worked a Martham service on 5th not 34188 as previously reported. On 6th 34114 put in an appearance on the 10.00 Lowestoft - Martham and next day 44531 was on the 09.45 X2 from Norwich and 34186 came in again, this time on the 13.59 from Martham. On 12th it was 34114 again, on the 08.59 from Martham.
The first X1 Enviro to break the 100,000 mile barrier is 33811 which has achieved this in 10.5 months. An astonishing feat I'm sure you will agree.
33811 about to depart from King's Lynn for Norwich on Saturday 9th August. Photo copyright : Andy Gibbs.
33811 after another days X1 graft. Note the Commonwealth Games support logo prominent in the leading lower deck window.  14th August 2014.
The next Enviro to reach the 100,00 miles mark is likely to be 33812 (current mileage 98284).
 John Wilson writes to say that former X1 coack 20122 , still in use as a driver trainer, was noted in Vancouver Avenue recently. John originally thought his sighting was on a visit to the tip on the 6th but then adds "Sorry Gerard - I'm told I went to the dentist on Weds a.m. so it was a different day I went past Vancouver Avenue and saw 20122  there.  I get so much excitement these days with both a trip to the tip and dentist in the same week. Must make you look forward to retirement! Now if you were to say to me "was it Monday or Tuesday?", I would reply "yes" with a degree of certainty. Yours unspecifically, and with a promise not to write too often". 
Always a pleasure to hear from you John, your sense of humour is certainly not on the wane.
This reminds me, thanks to all who have contacted me recently with info for the blog, all much appreciated.


Tuesday 5th August 2014 ~ Creating a Diversion

The first week of the route split seems to have gone smoothly, though the roadworks which seem to dog the route have done their best to ruin things. The King's Lynn bypass work has over-run and I think is now due to end in a weeks time. Meanwhile, Nene Quay in Wisbech, for so long closed for flood defence work in recent years had been shut once again, meaning yet another diversion via Churchill Road and Weasenham Lane.
Photo copyright : Lisa Scott
This time gas main relaying is to blame, but today Nene Quay was open for traffic in one direction and although publicity points to it being open for Peterborough bound traffic only, there was an element of confusion this morning when instead the eastbound side was open, with Peterborough bound buses being diverted.
 The 10.44 departure tried the signed route via Market Place but was thwarted by the sharp right turn from Hill Street into Union Street as shown here :
Whoops ! The bus had to reverse all the way back up Hill Street to escape. One imagines the little lad in the photo asking his Dad if he can go for an exciting trip on the X1 soon !
 At 11.45 today, the Quay was reopened to Peterborough bound traffic only with eastbound buses having to use Weasenham Lane, but not before three services (33816/12/10) had travelled through to Wisbech Town Bridge where they had to take the tight left hander to go over the bridge through to the Old Market.

The buses themselves seem to have been well behaved lately with just one failure being reported, 33807  cut out at Narborough on Friday and had to be replaced, this amid all the chaos caused by heavy traffic and with major tailbacks, some services travelled from Swaffham to Lynn via Stradsett depriving Middleton, East winch and Narborough of their service for a while.
Over in the east, 33818 -24 have all been in action on the Lowestoft - Yarmouth -Norwich service, although today was the first day that Malcolm noted all 7 in service when they worked as follows:
33818 10.00 Lowestoft - Yarmouth
33819 11.45 Yarmouth - Lowestoft
33820 12.20 Lowestoft - Yarmouth
33821 14.40 Lowestoft - Yarmouth
33822 12.00 Lowestoft - Yarmouth
33823 11.00 Lowestoft - Yarmouth
33824 10.20 Lowestoft - Norwich

Other unusual sightings in Lowestoft today were 34188 on the 11.00 to Martham, while 44512 came in on the 09.45 X2 from Norwich and later 44513 worked the 14.15 X2 to Norwich.

Whilst not with in the remit of this blog, but by way of a change Jim Long writes "I thought you might like to show 32479 as she was a Norwich car originally and now displays the Privatised livery of 1987.
This shot was taken on August 2nd and has the back drop of the Orwell bridge on the extended Superoute 66 service Martlesham to Halifax which is a local estate in Ipswich not West Yorks
Thought it would be nice on your site as the new team in place at First are making a real effort to spice things up so to speak"...... and indeed why not Jim ?