Wednesday 28 January 2015

Agoraline Outing And Catch Up

Last year Norfolk Green sold off all their Irisbus Agoraline single deckers. Most went for scrap but 4 were sold to Nu-Venture in Kent. As I stayed in Kent last night prior to a meeting wiith an old friend (he's older than me) and Arriva Manager today I thought I'd see if I could catch up with the Agoralines, especially as I know there were some extremely sad to see them go. I rang Nu-Venture this morning and wasn't exactly encouraged by the response I got, either about the vehicles or my prospects of being allowed to see them. It turns out that only one of them is currently on the road. One is awaiting MOT, one a part that's proving difficult to find, and one has been an organ doner to the others already. However, undetered I drove over to Nu-Venture's yard in Aylesford to see if I could see anything, and very pleased I did too!

When I got there I could immedately see two of them with their back to me, one in Norfolk Green Colours, the other in a livery I didn't regognise. Now normally I freely let anyone use the pics I publish on here but for this post I must ask that anyone wishing to use the pics contacts me first for permission, Thanks.

Former Norfolk Green Agoralines 39895 and 39898 sandwich an ex Stagecoach Volvo B10M
I ventured (groan) into the office to introduce myself and met a very friendly chap who tuurned out to be a manager/driver there who was happy to tell me about the Agoralines and better than that told me he was taking 898 out on a local route soon, and I was welcome to come out on it. He also informed me of the whereabouts of the other two and how to get a pic of them. The name of this extremely friendly and helpful man? Yup it's another Chris! The other two are stored in an industrial estate down the road and even Nu-Venture staff have problems getting in there so I stood no chance! So it was camera through the fence in pouring rain mode and here we are.

Ex Norfolk Green Iris Agoraline 39891 OY53 RDZ awating parts.
39897 AU05 FKF. I think this is the one awaiting MOT
I then drove to the route which brought back a few memories, as it was one I used to drive myself 27 years ago, and met up with Chris for a very pleasant 45 mins riding on what was probably the only Agoraline in service in the country today assuming Norse didn't have their one out. It was my first ride on one and my word aren't they quirky - love the indicator stalk positioning, and Chris showed me the 7 different braking systems on it too! Predominantly Renault I agree at least one example should be preserved for the sheer quirkiness of them. However the rattles were as you would expect from something that old, the ride smooth and the heating was excellent. Chris very decently stopped a couple of times for me to get pics.

Ex Norfolk Greem 39898 GX07 BAU in Barming on the 78
And here is the nearside view. Still looking rather smart I think
The old Stagecoach plate stilll in place
Chris has promised to keep me informed of any news regarding the Agoralines, and I am really grateful for that. He is one of only two drivers to drive the Agoralines, and he clearly liked the vehicle. A pleasure to meet you, Chris, and I hope next time I'm down I can join you for another journey!

This was a real bonus for me, as I was hoping to get news and pics of all things Arriva today and didn't even think of the Agoralines till last night. Coming up over the next few days my meeting with Matthew Arnold, who apart from being a life long friend and Arriva Manager is now Area Chairman of the CPT (Confederation of Public Transport) and was rubbing noses with the high and mighty of our area in Stowmarket last week! A very interesting chat on Euro 5 and 6 engines and TfL's somewhat in my view biased approach to the proposed enhanced emissions zone. There will also be  features on Arriva in Medway and Maidstone but I'll leave you for now, from a freezing cold Kent of one last pic of the Agoraline, taken in King St in Maidstone, a stop I spent many hours wating at as boy and driver!

898 in Maidstone Town Centre

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