A Dutch firm’s appointment to run Scottish trains for the next sparked anger among politicians and unions.
Rail workers’ union RMT said the decision to award the franchise to Abellio should have been shelved until after the Smith Commission on devolution, which could allow Holyrood to appoint a public-sector bidder.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is scandalous that just a few weeks after the referendum and promises from all quarters that the Scottish people would have an increased say in every aspect of their lives, that the continued privatisation of Scotland’s railways has been bulldozed through.
“There is no question that this whole franchising process could and should have been halted, pending the ratification of the post-referendum devolution settlement, instead of rushing headlong into a deal that will deny the Scottish people ownership and control of their railways for many years to come.”
But Transport Minister Keith Brown said this would have cost the Scottish Government millions and could have brought trains to a standstill.
He has been a vocal critic of the Westminster franchise system which permits bids from foreign state-owned companies like Abellio but not domestic public companies.
He also said members of his own party, who he is relying on in his bid to become deputy leader of the SNP, will understand that he was prevented from favouring Scottish-based companies.
Patrick Harvie, transport spokesman for the Scottish Greens, called on ministers to give an assurance over the new ScotRail franchise.
He said: “It would be ironic to have a Dutch national railway company taking over most of Scotland’s trains.
“While it would be great to see public transport run by a public-sector firm, it should be our public sector.
“We need an assurance from the transport minister that the optional five-year break in the ScotRail franchise will allow for a Scottish public sector operator to bid, assuming power is devolved from Westminster to allow it.”