Once upon a time ...
... there were some really skilled chaps who, with years of experience and a plentiful supply of paper, pencils, string and pins (I'm not making this up), were employed by Network Rail to devise timetables. Generally speaking their way of working was to everyone's satisfaction. The volume of work each time (twice a year) didn't vary much from one year to the next, so the number of chaps didn't vary much either. A few retirees and trainees joined - just like in every other properly-run business.
Then, out of a clear blue sky, came that most dreaded of Wicked Fairies - CHANGE. She wore the usual disguise called "improvement", but nobody was fooled. CHANGE said that all the chaps from all over the place - and there were chaps in lots of places, Best Beloved - must up sticks and go to Milton Keynes (a place sufficiently far from London for CHANGE and her masters to pretend that it was somehow in the centre of the country). Chaps being what they are, quite a lot of them looked the other way when CHANGE made her wishes known, and in consequence there were fewer - far fewer - chaps in Milton Keynes than there had been all over the place. Worse, the kind of chaps who said 'no' were more likely to be chaps who, for whatever reason, didn't want to move to a nowherey kind of somewhere - generally the older and more experienced ones.
That wouldn't have mattered all that much if CHANGE had not, at roughly the same time, had the bright idea of quite suddenly increasing the volume of work by a factor needing the fingers of a second hand to count.
And even that wouldn't have spelt the end of civilisation if CHANGE's string-pullers hadn't left the important bits of their input until pretty much the last minute. As was once so trenchantly observed, it was a bit like "sending your opening batsmen to the crease only for them to find ... that their bats had been broken before the game by the team captain".
Happily the timetable chaos south of the Border was confined to that unhappy place. Eight TOCs who had plans to introduce a better timetable (better largely because of new rolling stock being introduced) in December have been told to wait until May. The words "if you're lucky" were strangely omitted from the accompanying press release.
Up here though things are OK, and ScotRail is not among the Unlucky Eight. I wonder why.