The Scottish Greens have proposed a £22 billion rail plan which includes nationalising services and creating a tunnel under the Firth of Forth.
The Rail for All programme, devised by Deltix Transport Consulting, would pull investment from extending the road network, doubling the resources pumped into rail.
With proposals to completely electrify the rail network by 2030, the plan would see Scotland’s rail infrastructure produce net zero carbon.
But the boldest plan would see a tunnel built under the Firth of Forth between Edinburgh and Fife.
The project, estimated to cost between £4 billion and £6 billion, would relieve a “bottleneck” impacting upon services on the east coast, which currently have to run through Haymarket station in Edinburgh along with all other trains leaving the capital.
The tunnel would also see a station created at Leith to connect the city centre to the new crossing.
Greens transport spokesman John Finnie, who commissioned Deltix to develop the plan, said: “The Scottish Greens are proposing the biggest rail investment programme Scotland has ever seen.
“Our fully-costed £22 billion plan would transform Scotland’s railway, building a modern, zero-carbon network that is affordable and accessible to all.
“Rail for All is about making rail the natural choice for every journey. Whether you’re commuting, travelling for business or leisure.
“The investment would also be a central component of Scotland’s green recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, creating thousands of quality, unionised jobs whilst delivering the infrastructure so necessary to tackle the climate emergency.”
An 18-page report released by the party states that, for every £1 billion invested in the plan, there will be a £1.4 billion boost to economic activity, along with the creation of 14,000 jobs.
The party is also pushing for the rail network to be publicly operated.
The report said: “Re-integrating ScotRail and Network Rail (Scotland) into one publicly owned company with oversight by Scottish ministers would provide a much more efficient structure, cutting costs by reducing overlapping work, speeding up decision making and project design, and removing the cost of compensation paid when lines are shut for engineering works.
“Effectively, we recommend a return to the very successful ScotRail that existed before privatisation.”
ScotRail has some under scrutiny in recent years for underperformance, with Scottish ministers deciding to strip its franchisee Abellio of its contract next year.
Under the plans, the Highland Main Line, Far North Line, West Highland Line and Ayr to Stranraer Line will all be upgraded, rural trains will be converted to run on battery power and, where practically possible, towns of 5,000 people or more will be connected to the network.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Some of the suggested interventions are already being considered by the Scottish Government. Aspirational projects, such as the Firth of Forth Tunnel proposal by the Green Party, would be subject to the same scrutiny from the earliest stages to ensure they merited any serious consideration.
“We have stated for some time now that the franchising model is no longer fit for purpose and an integrated, public sector controlled railway, fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and Parliament will best serve Scotland’s economy and its communities.
“Repeated calls on UK ministers to give Scotland the powers needed to secure the best future for Scotland’s railway network, and to remove the absurdities and anomalies of the current system, have been denied.
“The ongoing Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) will help to deliver the vision, priorities and outcomes for transport set out in the National Transport Strategy published in February 2020. STPR2 will inform transport investment in Scotland for the next 20 years.”