ScotRail has indicated that it will cut hundreds of train services, as it ruled out a return to its pre-pandemic timetable.
The rail operator said that it is instead proposing a new timetable, with around 2100 services per weekday.
It is a decrease on the 2400 train services operated each day by ScotRail before coronavirus struck.
During the pandemic, services were significantly reduced as fewer people used public transport amid lockdown restrictions.
ScotRail has pledged that the new timetable, scheduled to begin in May 2022, would be “better performing”.
The proposed changes will be subject to a consultation, with the views of passengers being welcomed.
In a statement, ScotRail said: “There has been a gradual increase in the number of customers returning to the railway due to the easing, and now the ending, of the majority of coronavirus restrictions.
“Passenger journeys have risen to around 50 per cent of their pre-Covid levels, however, evidence shows that, in future, customers will be using the railway in different ways by travelling at different times and for different purposes.”
The operator continued: “Returning to a pre-pandemic timetable would result in trains operating 26 million more vehicle miles each year for little customer benefit.
“As well as increased emissions, that would increase ScotRail costs to the taxpayer by £30m to £40m each year.
“The proposed new timetable will also focus on improved punctuality and reliability of services, building on the record punctuality delivered during the pandemic.”
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said ScotRail’s services will reflect the varied travel patterns of people across Scotland following the pandemic.
“Scotland’s Railway is committed to delivering a service that is safe, reliable, green, and clean,” he said.
“Our job is to keep people moving and connected to business, leisure, and education while meeting the expectations of our customers
“The pandemic has changed how people travel across all of Scotland so our services will reflect these varied travel patterns and deliver timetables that are reliable, have enough capacity to meet pre-COVID levels of demand, and are sustainable.
“We are consulting on the timetable changes being proposed and we would welcome the views of our customers.”
Transport minister Graeme Dey said that the public consultation offers a “real opportunity” for people to help shape a “reliable and responsive” timetable change.
“Organisations up and down the country are reflecting on how they can provide great customer service while at the same time ensuring their businesses are fit for the future,” he said.
“Rail is no different and that is why it is essential ScotRail review changes in travel patterns across Scotland so that timetables best meet demand.
“This consultation exercise offers a real opportunity for customers and businesses to help shape a reliable and responsive timetable change from May 2022.
“I would encourage anyone with an interest to share their views”
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Neil Bibby hit out at the proposals.
He said: “These plans would decimate Scotland’s rail networks and completely undermine our journey to net-zero.”
Bibby added: “We should be making it as easy as possible for people to get back on to public transport – but cutting hundreds of services a day will just leave us with infrequent, overcrowded trains.”