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THE BUSINESS TRIP TRAIN AND BUS

INTEGRATED TRANSPORT

Manchester Airport to Watson Steel, Lostock

Morning

A trip across Manchester from the airport to Watson Steel's factory in Lostock is best made by train - it's just a shame that more people don't know about it.

Having arrived from New York at 7.40am, I reached the arrivals hall at eight o'clock, needing to get across the city to a meeting in Lostock by 10.30am. I headed for the information desk in Terminal 2.

Staff were very keen to help. They were sure that a bus went directly from the airport to Lostock. But sadly, this could not be confirmed as the relevant timetables were in Terminal 1 bus depot.

I was assured that if all else failed, a train into the city centre was the best bet - but as the desk's only online timetable computer terminal was being dominated by another traveller I shuffled off at 8:25 without train confirmation to find the bus depot.

Moving walkways whisked me towards the airport's bus and train stations.

The bus station is a scary place. If the timetable information was on the numerous notice boards among the dark and damp concrete walls, I failed to find it.

Fortunately a man in the information office was able to advise me to get a train - the 9.10 changing at Bolton for Lostock.

I got on a moving walkway to the station. For £3.40 I had a ticket to Lostock on the 8.55am changing at Bolton with eight minutes to spare.

The 8.55 eventually left at 9.05 from platform 2a rather than platform 2b as advertised, but even the least seasoned traveller could deal with this slight inconvenience. Just 35 minutes later I was in Bolton ready for the 9.51 train to Windermere via Lostock - and no need to change platform.

While I waited, a quick phone call to Watson Steel to ask the best route from Lostock to their plant drew a slightly bemused response from reception. 'By train? Well, by car its easy. Best get a cab from the station.'

Fortunately at Lostock the station manager knew better. Either walk for five minutes and get a bus or walk for 20 minutes straight there.

He also pointed out that I could have got a train direct from the airport to recently opened Horwich Parkway next to the Bolton Wanderers Reebock Stadium. This is only 10 minutes walk from Watson's.

Instead I spent another 75p on a bus fare and arrive outside the factory just in time for that 10.30 am meeting.

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