Transport Minister Keith Brown announced that train ticket prices would be capped to make rail travel attractive and affordable, on 6 December 2012.
An early fares cap has been negotiated with franchise holder First ScotRail, which will see off-peak fares frozen after 2013.
Peak fares will be capped at the Retail Prices Index measure of inflation in January 2014 and 2015, as long as the annual rate stays below 3.5%.
Mr Brown said "I want to ensure that the rail service is an attractive, affordable option,"
The government will offer two separate franchises: a 10-year ScotRail franchise with the option of a break after five years, worth a potential £2.5 billion and a separate sleeper franchise for up to 15 years, worth at least £200 million.
The sleeper service procurement programme will run in spring next year, followed by the ScotRail service next summer.
Mr Brown said "We will not be rushed, we will not be hasty and there will be no risky shortcuts in terms of franchising in Scotland. Our approach must be measured".
The transport minister also announced improvements to services in 2014, including more frequent trains between Glasgow and Ayr, improved services to Oban, additional Sunday trains between Aberdeen and the central belt and improved commuter services to Aberdeen.