TWO of the four companies bidding for the next franchise to run ScotRail revealed some of their plans for Scotland's national train operator yesterday.

Speaking for the first time about its bid, NedRailways, the state-owned operator in the Netherlands, said it would concentrate on how to squeeze more trains into an already crowded rail network.

NedRailways will look at running double-decker trains in Scotland, although the cost of altering tunnels and other infrastructure would probably be too expensive and disruptive.

The Herald revealed last week that National Express, the incumbent, had been shortlisted alongside First, Arriva, and a joint venture between Netherlands Railways and Serco.

NedRailways claims are

likely to be disputed by National Express. Peter Cotton, managing director of ScotRail, has warned that it is fantasy for any overseas operator to believe it can improve the system.

Meanwhile, First said its aim was to offer a door-to-door service by integrating its buses with ScotRail's 2000 daily trains.

However, it will have to persuade the competition authorities that it can bid without selling some of its bus companies.

It has 55% of the Scottish bus market and would have a public transport monopoly on some routes if it won ScotRail.

The seven-year ScotRail contract, which could be worth (pounds) 1.6bn in subsidy from the Scottish Executive, is due to start when National Express's current deal ends next March.

National Express and First are considered the early favourites because NedRailways and Serco are an unknown quantity.