Fears laid to rest for now over Lowestoft-Norwich-King’s Lynn X1 bus

Bus company bosses have confirmed no changes will be made to a key cross-county timetable as they seek to reassure communities who fear their stops could be removed from the route.

First Eastern Counties Buses is set to publish its new timetable at the end of March for the X1 service, which connects Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Norwich, Dereham, King's Lynn and Peterborough.

Managing director Alan Pilbeam said 'no material changes' would be made for now, although investigations are continuing into punctuality problems on parts of the route.

The firm is in discussion with parish representatives in Hockering, near Dereham, where drivers are being delayed by up to five minutes as they seek to rejoin the westbound A47.

But Mr Pilbeam said speculation that Toftwood, on the outskirts of Dereham, was in imminent danger of being removed from the route was unfounded.

He said that a full 'punctuality improvement plan' would be produced in the coming months which may affect future timetables, but no decisions would be made until an in-depth analysis of the service had been made.

'There are a lot of suggestions being made,' he said. 'But no changes are planned in Toftwood at the moment.

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'That could feature if one of the ways of improving the punctuality was to split the X1 service in two, so it ran from Norwich to Dereham and Dereham to King's Lynn and Peterborough.

'We will do a proper punctuality plan for the whole route and, at the moment, anyone can come up with a suggestion – whether it is drivers, passengers, councillors or our own views – but we simply have not got into that detail yet.

'We do have an identified punctuality issue with the X1 service in Hockering that we need to deal with. We will look at possible ways of dealing with the issue and will talk to county council officers as well as Hockering Parish Council.'

Mr Pilbeam said work had not yet started on the punctuality improvement plan, which will be carried out in conjunction with county transport officers later this year.

He said another factor influencing timetable decisions was the effect of funding cutbacks on concessionary routes, which was discussed at County Hall on Thursday.

'Norfolk County Council is looking to do a deal with all the operators that will minimise the impact on the network and also minimise the impact on supported services,' said Mr Pilbeam. 'It looks positive at the moment and this was acknowledged by the operators as a sensible way forward.'