John Penrose MP

PUBLISHED: 09:07 20 March 2006 | UPDATED: 09:01 24 May 2010

First Great Western regrets to announce that the 0638 train has been cancelled. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause." It's the last thing you want to hear on a freezing Monday morning

First Great Western regrets to announce that the 0638 train has been cancelled. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause."It's the last thing you want to hear on a freezing Monday morning. Particularly when the announcement is pre-recorded by someone who's probably still tucked up warm in bed, and the only member of staff who's awake hasn't got a clue what's going on.My fellow passengers gave the usual mix of angry snorts and resigned sighs, and headed into the waiting room to keep warm. If we ever needed proof why the trains to Bristol need to improve enormously before we can tempt more motorists out of their cars and off the M5, this was it.But the train staff got organised and, about half an hour later, laid on some free taxis to get everyone into Bristol. I found myself sharing with a builder on his way to Bath, and a solicitor who worked in Bristol. We started chatting as we chugged towards Temple Meads, and were soon agreeing that the trains were awful and the service needed to improve.I really enjoyed the trip. They soon discovered I was their local MP, and we had a great conversation all the way into Bristol. It may sound funny, but listening to people's opinions is vital for any politician who doesn't want to get out of touch with the real world. Whether you agree with someone or not, providing they're not just telling you what they think you want to hear, or having a go to get something off their chest, it's tremendously interesting. In politics, gossiping is an essential part of the job description.We reached Temple Meads and went our separate ways. But our conversation had made my morning, and made up for the dreadful trains.

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