ScotRail has set a new record of carrying 83.3 million passengers in the year to March - up 2.6 per cent on 2012.
The train operator, which runs more than nine in ten of Scotland’s trains, has also seen a one third increase in journeys since Aberdeen-based FirstGroup took over the franchise nine years ago.
A competition is due to be launched later this year for the next franchise, which starts in 2015.
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “The rise in passenger numbers is pleasing and shows we are connecting even more communities, helping to grow the economy and encouraging people out of their cars onto public transport.
“There’s still more to be done, and we will continue to expand services and improve the customer experience.”
Transport minister Keith Brown, for whom the £2.5 billion ScotRail franchise is the Scottish Government’s biggest contract, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging more people onto the railways and I am delighted to see the work we have done in partnership with ScotRail has again resulted in record passenger numbers.
“The train is a more environmentally friendly way of getting around, which benefits the nation as a whole through improvements to the health of the
population and reduced congestion, and therefore greater safety on our roads.
“Thanks to our record investment in Scotland’s railways, passengers know they can experience more reliable train journeys than ever before.