Dutch rail operator Abellio has won the contract to run Scotrail services from April 2015, Scottish transport minister Keith Brown has confirmed.
The group, which has promised to invest millions in improving services and facilities, takes over from Aberdeen-based Firstgroup.
Ministers said the franchise, worth up to £6 billion over 10 years, would make travel in Scotland “more attractive across the board”, including:
- Free wifi on all trains
- 23 per cent more carriages across the network
- High-speed intercity diesel trains, with over a third more seats
- Advance fares of £5 between any two Scottish cities
- New approach to cycling with more than 3,500 parking spaces and bike-hire at a number of stations
Brown said this deal will benefit the people and economy of Scotland. He said: "We've already ensured that regulated rail fares will stay in line with inflation or less, and Abellio has come up with some truly innovative ways to make rail even more affordable, such as the £5 intercity fare anywhere in Scotland and reduced ticket prices for jobseekers and those newly in work, as well as a price promise for guaranteed best value fares.
Brown added: “Every single Scottish station will have CCTV and passengers will enjoy improved waiting facilities at 40 stations, extra retail facilities at up to 50 stations, and hundreds of new car parking spaces.”
The franchise deal has been criticised by union groups that believe it represents a missed opportunity to put the line back into public ownership.
"We believe public ownership is better, is more efficient and it's safer and it gives you great accountability,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme.
"All you're seeing in private ownership is that money's being sucked out of the industry and given to the private sector shareholders, or in this case is going to go to subsidise the Dutch railways,” Cash added.
Scottish Labour infrastructure spokesman James Kelly said: "Today's decision highlights a total failure in leadership from the transport minister.
"In awarding the Scotrail franchise to Abellio, Keith Brown has decided that the profits from Scotland's railways should be used to invest in lower fares and better services in Holland rather than here at home.
"Keith Brown should have welcomed calls by transport unions and Scottish Labour to suspend the franchise process so further devolution could allow public bids to operate Scotland's railways. Instead he awarded it to a public company in Holland."
There will be a break clause for the franchise after five years.