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THE HOLIDAY BUS AND TRAIN

INTEGRATED TRANSPORT

Santon Downham near Brandon, East Anglia, to East Midlands Airport (with a heavy suitcase) and back

Morning/afternoon

Waited at the village bus shelter clutching a sheaf of timetables taken from the Internet. Confidence soon turned to short lived panic when the 9.13am Eastern Counties 200 bus to Thetford station looked as though it wasn't going to stop. I hadn't realised the stop was at an unmarked spot away from the more obvious shelter.

Bus information online was surprisingly good ... when you know the name of the operator to search for. Telephone calls gave the basic answers far quicker. Railtrack's online timetable is great, but would be helped by maps.

Ten minutes after leaving the village, I was at Thetford train station with time to buy a ticket and the train pulled in on time five minutes later.Phones and loos were all available plus a refreshment trolley.

The train arrived on time in Nottingham after about 2 hours 10 minutes. The station's bus information computer looked promising, but was out of order so left me unsure which bus stop to wait at for my Nottingham City transport Pathfinder bus. After 10 minutes at the 100 bus stop - conveniently close to the station - I began to wonder if I should be on the other side of the road. Neither bus driver I asked was sure.

Success! The other stop had an airport timetable. The hourly bus arrived bang on time, and was the day's bargain - a mere pound for a journey of perhaps 20km. No specific room for luggage, but plenty of space. Reached the airport at 12:55.

The return journey from my 'holiday' had other problems. I arrived just before lunch and noted with approval that I could have left my luggage in lockers at the train station if I had time to kill, but then discovered they were out of order. Central Trains' service didn't stop in Brandon, so it was back to Thetford where several taxis were waiting hopefully for custom. Resisting temptation, I heaved my luggage the 10 minutes walk to the bus stop - no signs to help.

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