Network Rail timetabling incompetence has been a growing problem ever since they scrapped all the regional planning offices and centralised in Milton Keynes about 7 years ago, losing many experienced (and ex-BR) planning staff along the way. Since then, TOCs have been upstaffing their own timetable planning offices (partly to mitigate the ever increasing workload created by Network Rail errors and foul ups) whilst Network Rail reduced their staffing levels to save money and ‘increase efficiency’. Given their salary levels are very poor in comparison with the TOCs and there are no travel perks, retaining staff is difficult. The geographical location of Milton Keynes doesn’t help with commuting. You now have MK offices filled with enthusiastic but extremely inexperienced staff, burdened with exceptionally bureaucratic procedures - all in the name of COMPLIANCE, which is mistakenly believed to be analogous to ROBUSTNESS - so all tasks take 10x as long as they should, the output quality is abysmal and the national timetable suffers as a result. What May 2018 is, is the first nearly nation-wide timetable recast involving multiple interacting TOCs. Only a centralised planning centre can coordinate this, and a competent and well run organisation would have struggled. Network Rail’s process has utterly collapsed, to the extent that this weeks permanent timetable was still being finalised last week, rather than last year. I personally believe NR planning has had its Railtrack moment. The damage was done with the MK move, the TOCs planning offices have been holding the tide back since then, but this week the inevitable has finally happened. Where we go from here, I have absolutely no idea.