Friday, 14 March 2014

Diversion Day

As many of you are aware, today was not an easy day for the people on the buses. The tragic air accident in Gillingham has taken centre stage of our local news and has continued to cause delays and cancellations of the bus services. Anglian ceased to operate the 81 due to the closure of the A143, whilst First drivers were forced to create their own diversions by the closure of the A146.

My day started off with aiming to go to the location of the incident to photograph the heavy police presence in the area. Whilst waiting in Norwich Bus Station for half an hour with still no X2s showing, I was about to give up hope when FirstNorwich 36180 BD11CDZ turned up. The driver then crushed my excitement with a simple statement explaining he was running a relief service to Loddon only, and to wait for the normal X2 to go to Beccles and beyond. Fortunately, it was only five minutes later when 37567 AU58ECF arrived with Lowestoft on the destination screen. 

It became apparent that the bus I was on was not serving Loddon when we turned right down the B1332 Bungay Road. It took about 50 minutes to get to Beccles, via Poringland and Bungay, and that route took us through the Old Market Place which caused a bit of confusion for the Norwich bound passengers patiently waiting. I disembarked and went on foot to Gillingham and found my sought after heavy police presence at the McDonald's roundabout. Suddenly the fog lifted and the helicopter came into view. I was one of the first who saw it, along with a BBC Radio Norfolk reporter who was recording live as the low clouds dispersed. Our spot didn't stay secret for long though and after about ten minutes, ITV, BBC, Sky and Mustard were among us, with other broadcasters present. I managed to attach myself to the crew from Sky and spent the day assisting them, whilst the various channels battled for the best views.

Back to buses, I noticed First hadn't seemed to have put an official diversion route in place. This Norwich bound X2 was heading out of Gillingham, only to have to go all the way back round the roundabout and find a different way. You can just see the rear end of an ITV van in the background.

After a day of pretending to be a real journalist, I eventually left the scene at about half two, and upon re-entering Gillingham village, I noted an X2 turning left at the t-junction opposite the village hall, also bound for Norwich. Obviously the timetable was out the window due to the severity of the delays so I decided to walk back to Beccles rather than sit and wait in Gillingham. Just as I arrived back at the Old Market Place, 30889 W744DWX was about to embark. I boarded to see a local man giving the driver directions around the closures which would lead us out in Hales, to then resume normal service. So as advised, we turned left at the previously mentioned t-junction in Gillingham but after twisting and turning through the local tight and windy lanes with masses of low trees and a huge tailback of car drivers who don't seem to realise how much space a bus needs, we ended up in Bungay. The diversion also led us through Kirby Cane and Geldeston. The driver took this accidental route as an invitation to run 'fast' to Norwich, much to my delight.

traffic queuing in, the truck isn't parked. He is trying to get out of the way!
Credit and a thanks to First and Anglian must be given, for the continuous updates on their twitter pages advising passengers of the long delays, as there was also an accident on the A47 which led to the closure of the Acle Straight. This caused knock on delays for services X1, 7 and 61 however the main roads are set to reopen any time now so normal service should resume tomorrow.

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