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Monday 17th August 2020 ~ Overdue Update !


Many moons ago, I wrote one of my very occasional blog entries about the new red Scania buses brought in to operate the XL service from Norwich to Peterborough. That's all a very long time ago now, in fact almost 6 months and hasn't a lot happened since ? Or to be more accurate, not a lot has happened since !

Going back to March 27th then and a much reduced service was introduced in response to the pandemic situation. From Sunday 5th April, King's Lynn depot temporarily closed and staff were furloughed while a skeleton service was operated by Norwich. This prevailed until 30th May after which King's Lynn resumed their role in running the service. From 7th June the full timetable was restored. Initially only 18 seats were available on each service to allow for social distancing, but this has been relaxed slightly recently.

Despite the situation, there have been some unusual sights on the route which I will briefly summarise here.

33817 on its final journey to Peterborough on 10th March. Photo : Dan High

Back on 10th March, 33817 became the final (at least for the moment) blue liveried Enviro 400 to reach Peterborough. Things then settled down until April 7th when yellow line 36269 worked diagram 4 - there were only 8 turns at this time, so this was something of a shock.

On April 5th, King's Lynn's allocation were moved to Norwich and Great Yarmouth and during the lockdown timetables, the Scanias put in much useful work on both the X1 and X2 routes east of Norwich. 

36918 (top) in High Street, Gorleston on the X1 on May 1st and (above) 36913 on an X21 in Gordon Road, Lowestoft on May 19th. Photos : Roy Northcott / East Norfolk Bus Blog

36914 passes 36912 in Yarmouth Road, Lowestoft on May 20th. Photo : Matthew Holland

The Peterborough service was operated by Scanias 36901 - 36909 & 36911. 36910 had suffered an unfortunate accident near King's Lynn on March 25th and was at Full Circle being repaired, hence its omission.

Right at the end of the emergency timetable on 29th May, the blue skies of lockdown find 36906 heading east near Walpole Highway

On the same day, 29th May, 36908 is on a Peterborough bound XL passing Boskoop Farm 

On Wednesday 22nd April, Gemini 36266 appeared on the aforementioned diagram 4 and then 36184 worked diagram 6 on Monday 27th. From Monday 4th May, 36904 was replaced by 36917, also that day 36184 again did diagram 6 and a yellow line Gemini (possibly 36266 or 36270) worked the first part of diagram 4 before being replaced by 36901. Diagram 6 again dropped on May 7th (36184) and May 11th (36270). Most of these substitutions were down to 36907 being temporarily out of traffic.

Once the full timetable returned at the beginning of June, all the Scanias loaned to Great Yarmouth returned to King's Lynn and any shortfall was met by using a Gemini on one of the three Dereham 'D' turns. 36904 which had also been at Full Circle for repairs returned on June 4th just after the return of 36910.

16th June saw possibly the most outrageous working of the last decade when the bus scheduled to work the 19.40 Norwich - Peterborough had to be taken out of traffic at the last minute. In order to provide the service, Volvo B7 Plaxton President of 2002 vintage 32214 was commandeered to work in the place of 36916. It got as far as King's Lynn where 36914 relieved it and the old timer promptly returned empty to Norwich.

32214 photographed on a less auspicious occasion, but looking very smart on Charcoal Line service 41 at Woodton en route to Norwich via Poringland, 5/2/19. Photo : Zak Nelson

In the last fortnight of July, Gemini substitutions on The Dereham 'D' services once again became commonplace.

August though has been a better month so far, however, it was a case of deja vu today (Monday 17th) when Gemini 37579 put in an unexpected appearance working turn 6022 which involves two round trips from Norwich to Peterborough and the 21.40 Norwich - Dereham. For the record, the last time 37579 worked to Peterborough was almost 7 years ago when it was in white X1 livery on 5th October 2013 !

37579 returned to its old stamping ground today after a 7 year absence. Seen here working the 10.10 Peterborough - Norwich at Wisbech Nene Quay.

Overall the new Scanias have given very little cause for concern. Main hiccups have revolved around faulty destination displays and windscreen replacements taking longer to bond than on the previous fleet. Timekeeping has been excellent, although the current timetable is certainly generous in its allowances. Hopefully I will provide a further update in less than six months. Thanks to all who have continued to supply me with pictures and information. Special thanks as always to Bruce Billingham for keeping an eye on things.

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