Public sector not-for-profit organisations can apply to run Scottish trains in future, the transport minister has confirmed.
Keith Brown raised the prospect of future public ownership of trains as he confirmed that the current West Coast Mainline "debacle" could have unforeseen consequences for the present ScotRail franchise.
ScotRail parent company FirstGroup was due to take over the running of the the West Coast Main Line, which connects London to Scotland, on December 9 until the Department for Transport (DfT) scrapped the franchise competition amid "significant technical flaws" in the process.
ScotRail runs the vast majority of domestic trains in Scotland but independent MSP John Finnie asked Mr Brown what impact the DfT's decision will have on its franchise.
He added: "What discussions has the Scottish Government had with the UK Government for the transfer of powers over rail allowing for public-sector models to become part of any review of the rail franchise in Scotland?"
He said publicly-run railways "offer a better deal for the public than the current fragmented and inefficient model".
Mr Brown said: "As part of the current devolution settlement it is possible for public sector not-for-profit bids to be submitted in relation to the future provision of rail services in Scotland.
"We have had discussions with the UK Government on a number of occasions about the franchise arrangements. Indeed, I spoke to the Secretary of State for Transport yesterday on the issue of the implications of the West Coast Mainline. But it is for individual bidders to come forward with their proposals.
"It's also true to say that the implications for the review that the UK Government has set up, the Brown Review, will potentially have implications for the ScotRail franchise if it decides to choose to make the recommendations which change the basis of the franchise arrangements in future.
"To that extent, there may well be implications, as yet unknown, for the ScotRail franchise."