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Sunday 23rd February 2020 ~ The First Week

36917 near Hockering on Friday. Photo : Zak Nelson
So the first week of operation using the new fleet of Excel Scanias has passed relatively uneventfully. From what I can gather, Saturday was the first day where there were no Enviro substitutions. During the week 33805/811/817/818 were all used at various points. Of the new vehicles, all have been used on the route apart from 36901 which has had a few minor issues. 
36908 on a Dereham - Norwich service near Hockering.
Photo : Zak Nelson

On the main route on Mondays to Fridays, King's Lynn send out ten buses and Norwich seven. Three of the latter are used purely between Norwich and Dereham, meaning in total 14 are used on the Peterborough service.
33818 deputising for a Scania on a Dereham short.
Photo : Zak Nelson

There has also been great interest in the fate of the superseded Enviro 400s. 33803/07/08/09/10/13/14/15 have been transferred to Great Yarmouth with all except 33815 having been seen on the X1 group of services. 33811 has also appeared today although apparently still on King's Lynn's books. Biggest news was probably the appearance of 33814 on the X2 as well as 33821 and 33822 this week.
A change of scenery for 33814 seen here on the A146 near Stockton working an X2 service. Photo : Zak Nelson

33821 on the X2 near Stockton on Friday February 21st. Photo : Zak Nelson

Timekeeping with the new Excel vehicles has been variable, most have been seen within 5 minutes of time. Drivers have been asked some interesting questions on the new buses, my favourite is the passenger who boarded one asking the driver "Is this red bus a blue bus ?" !


Monday 17th February 2020 ~ A New Era

 Today saw the introduction of the new XL fleet, which by and large was carried out successfully. The eye catching red liveried buses have brought new standards of comfort and facilities to the route.
Drivers seemed to be taking it very steady with the new charges today and most I saw were a few minutes late, however, 36907 working the 15.40 Peterborough - Norwich was seen entering Wisbech spot on time. The 08.10 Peterborough - Norwich started at Thorney with 33805 after an issue with one of the new buses and 33816 was also out during the day, but small teething troubles are always part of the introduction of any new fleet. A couple of buses were seen in service without working destination screens, something which has been immediately rectified, but having a code letter instead of XL is something which will take a little getting used to.
Here are some pictures from our photographers on the inaugural day. 

Photo : Sam Larke

Photo : Sam Larke

36906 departing King's Lynn as the 13.10 to Norwich. Photo : Mark Pitman
36905 heads east from Thorney as the 10.10 Peterborough - Norwich. Photo : Cheryl Cleary

Interior of 36919 at Peterborough Bus Station : Photo : Sam Larke

Red passing red near East Winch. Photo : Sam Larke

This picture depicts the spacious seating in the upper saloon. Photo : Sam Larke
Photo : Sam Larke

36904 leaving King's Lynn Bus Station as the 08.40 Norwich - Peterborough Photo : Mark Pitman

The 11.40 Norwich - Peterborough with 33805 which had replaced 36908 earlier. Photo : Mark Pitman

36915 running as the 09.00 Norwich - Peterborough pulls in to King's Lynn rail station. Photo : Mark Pitman

Photo : Sam Larke

Photo : Sam Larke

36908 departs King's Lynn for Wisbech. Photo : Mark Pitman


Sunday February 16th 2020 ~ One Chapter Ends, Another Begins

Today was the last day of the 63 Reg Enviro 400s on the XL route. Preparations are complete for the first day of the new Scania vehicles tomorrow. 
High winds did see a substitution late last night and for a time today when single decker 63325 was used. 
63325 at King's Lynn South Gates with 33811 about to take eastbound passengers forward today . Photo : Zak Nelson

The Enviros performed well on their last day on the route, although 33805, 33811 and 33817 are to be kept at King's Lynn for a few days on standby in the event of any problems with the new boys.
33819 never received full route branding for the XL route. It is seen departing King's Lynn Bus Station for Peterborough at 16.20 today. Photo : Sam Larke
It made it to the final day ! 33803 calls at King's Lynn South Gates with a westbound service today.
 Photo : Zak Nelson
33817 has finished work for the day on XL, maybe for the last time and the new fleet are lined up ready for entry into service. Photo : Sam Larke
33805 is one of the buses on standby at King's Lynn in the next few days  Photo :  Zak Nelson

The old and the new, 33818 alongside 36911 at Vancouver Avenue this evening. Photo : Sam Larke

The new fleet ready for entry into service at King's Lynn. Photo : Simon Barker
Photo : Sam Larke

New timetable information at Norwich Bus Station.
Photo : Zak Nelson

The new fleet will operate an intensive service between Norwich and Dereham as well as the Peterborough services. Photo : Zak Nelson :  

A new stop for Dereham Town FC. Photo : Zak Nelson

The new timetables in new display cases at the South Gates . Photo : Zak Nelson
Many thanks to Zak, Sam and Simon for helping me out with photos and the stories from today. 


Sunday February 9th 2020 ~ It's all happening

  After what seems to be a long while with little to report, it's nice to produce a blog which is a little different.
Preparations for the entry into service of the new fleet are proceeding apace. The first one to pass through Wisbech to my knowledge was on Thursday afternoon when 36910 was used for tests on the public address system. It is seen below on its way back to Norwich and I'm sure that guy on the top deck is waving !!

Since it was announced recently that First have cancelled the sale of their bus division - this was originally announced in May 2019, it is not surprising that their branding will after all be applied to the new fleet as seen here :

The entry into service, together with a new timetable will come into effect on Monday 17th February

Meanwhile, a rather unexpected event happened today (Sunday 9th). High winds and torrential rain hit the route courtesy of Storm Ciara which has caused havoc throughout the UK. A decision was made to replace the Enviro 400s on the route with single deck vehicles while the storm was at its height.
Here are a few pictures of the unexpected visitors performing on the Excel service - all didn't go well though as one had to have panels drilled and riveted after being ripped by the winds and 63321 suffered a coolant leak at King's Lynn on return from Peterborough, so the 16.10 to Norwich left with 33816. By this time the worst of the storm had passed fortunately. 
Spot on time at Walpole Highway, the 11.10 Norwich - Peterborough passes with Wright Street Lite 63321, normally employed on the green line services 14, 15 and 15a  from Dussindale, Acle and Lingwood to Wymondham.
Photo : Bruce Billingham
63321 and 63323 seen at King's Lynn bus station. Photo : Sam Larke
63323 leaves King's Lynn westbound. Photo : Sam Larke
The penultimate single decker utilised by Norwich was 47510, a smaller capacity, shorter wheelbase example in standard First livery. It is seen here arriving at King's Lynn as dusk begins to fall. Photo : Sam Larke

The 16.10 from Norwich on arrival at King's Lynn with 47509. Photo : Sam Larke


Tuesday 4th February 2020 ~ Training in Progress

The fleet numbers for the new buses are 36901 - 36919 inclusive. They have started to appear in Norwich and King's Lynn for driver training purposes.

36912 was photographed outside King's Lynn railway station this morning by our man on the spot

It's not just drivers who are familiarising themselves with the new charges, the maintenance teams are also getting to know all about  those important details which keep the fleet on the road. At last week's press launch, the team at King's Lynn came in for special praise because of their dedication in keeping everything moving with the minimum of fuss.
Jason, Tim and Calvin are responsible for the day to day maintenance at King's Lynn and are seen here in front of a trio of the new vehicles. Photo : First Group