Comparing the English (& Welsh, but let's leave them out of it, not least because the DfT generally does) HLOS with the Scottish one produced by TS is like comparing a Mouton Rothschild with Tesco's plonk. Well, that's a bit extreme perhaps, and an insult to Tesco. I have read four different trade magazines on the subject and not one has a good word to say for the DfT's waffle. Governments continue to treat us - the ones who vote for them, and pay their salaries - as idiots, and the DfT reinforced this by releasing the English HLOS the day Parliament rose, making any form of examination impossible. Not content with this the DfT managed to restrict itself to just 6 pages, much of it vapid in the extreme. Our lot, in contrast, produced 15 pages, many of them quite detailed. It was gratifying that the reason why TS could not produce a SoFA at the same time was laid firmly at DfT's door ("the first formal proposals about how these new funding arrangements [for NR] will work in Scotland were not received from the UK Government until the evening before the publication deadline of 20 July 2017"). Doubtless once DfT works out what it wants to do (Secretary of State Grayling has said this will be "by 13 October 2017") we shall learn what crumbs the DfT will allow us peasants to have.
Cross? You bet I am. TS has complete control (under Scottish Ministers) of the funding arrangements for, and quality control of, ScotRail. That is as it should be. TS has control of the funding arrangements for NR in Scotland. ScotRail and NR in Scotland are collectively under the ultimate management of Alex Hynes, no fool. The elephant in the room - one whose existence is well known to, and deeply unsatisfactory to, Humza Yousaf, the responsible Scottish Minister - is that NR is accountable only to the DfT. I won't argue the politics of this here - my views are no secret - but it would be hard to find any of the people who moan in the newspapers who would be able to justify this situation. We pay, either by buying tickets or by paying taxes, but we don't get to tell the dominating supplier what to do.
The DfT's problem is easy to understand. Far too many jolly wheezes were put into CP5 with little or no understanding of the costs, or technical challenges. I didn't know this, nor did you, but the so-called experts who write HLOSes are...well, experts, and should have known better. And if they didn't know, they should have had the wit to ask someone who did. After all, the West Coast catastrophe of 15-odd years ago must have provided lessons about employing untested technology in major projects. Where were the wise heads who should have said "hang on a minute"? GWR electrification is but one frighteningly visible example. I had an interesting conversation with Bill Reeve (Head of Rail at TS) last December when I suggested that there were three reasons why the GWR plan had gone awry. "Oh," he said, "only three?" Well, words to that effect.
Our lot have had problems too, not least the delay to the Edinburgh - Glasgow electrification. But note the tenth word in the preceding sentence. EGIP will get done. EGIP will do what it said on the tin. OK, it's late, but in two, or twenty, years time that lateness will be of no importance. Stuff not done is never done. TS is not perfect; ScotRail is not perfect; NR (Scotland) is not perfect. Even the Committee of FoFNL is not perfect. But up here we don't know how well off we are.