Over the past few decades there has been such a war of attrition waged on the network, that the reaction to "what is needed" is likely to be "where do we start?" Stations closed, lines lifted, routes singled over many decades, particularly under state ownership when the railways were a political football regularly given a good kicking by governments of both colours and starved of the necessary investment.

Yet the increasing passenger numbers since the 1980s show that people want to take the train, which is all to the good environmentally.

The late vice-chair of Railfuture Scotland, Roderick McDougall Bsc CEng MICE, whom many in Glasgow will remember from his work in transport, created a vision of what was required for a 21st century Scottish rail network.

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This was arrived at by meticulously studying the travel-to-work census data to produce likely passenger numbers, especially where the home town had a station but the commuting destination did not.

He also advocated further electrification and signalling upgrades to increase capacity.

He advocated a lot, but it is an indication of how much the railways were neglected over the years.

Roddy’s and Railfuture Scotland’s proposals would create a rail network with a coverage as extensive as the roads. The whole exercise was to make rail as opposed to car the attractive option, particularly for commuters.

It builds upon the expansions since the late 1980s starting with Edinburgh-Bathgate, and the extension to Larkhall, through Stirling-Alloa, Laurencekirk and Conan Bridge stations, the extension to Galashiels and Tweedbank, and most recently Robroyston.

But even with the forthcoming promised new stations at East Linton, Reston, Leven and Cameron Bridge, that still leaves much of Scotland marooned from the railway.

Suggested extensions, not all on old routes, include: Comrie via Crieff and Forfar to Laurencekirk, Dumfries to Stranraer including branches to Kirkcudbright and Cairnryan, and Aberdeen-Banchory. These could really open up the country, for commuters and tourists alike.

But it is not just a matter of new stations or laying new track. Trains have to run frequently enough to attract motorists, so while a headway of 60 minutes is sufficient for a journey of 50 miles, a 15 minute frequency is needed for those less than 20 miles.

Junction improvements such as at Bellgrove and Portobello, plus capacity enhancements and speed improvements, e.g. Perth-Inverness, Kilmarnock-Dumfries and Edinburgh-Tweedbank, are required, and the electrification programme, already well behind and such that the 2022 target looks exceedingly unlikely to be met, needs to be doubled, to include the Fife Circle and the Borders to Tweedbank, rather than just connecting the Seven Cities.

It is an ambitious scheme and will clearly take many years to achieve. However it is the only way of achieving a step change of the magnitude required by the looming climate change that will enable people to travel around Scotland without causing excessive damage to the environment.

Roderick McDougall and Railfuture Scotland have proposed a bold solution; it remains to be seen whether the powers-that-be will rise to the challenge.

• Jane Ann Liston is secretary of Railfuture Scotland