The Scottish government has announced that ScotRail train services will be run by a public-owned company from next year.
The Dutch firm’s agreement runs out in March 2022 and will be replaced by a government-backed organisation because “the current franchising system is no longer fit for purpose”.
Mr Matheson said train services would only be run by the government as an “operator of last resort”.
Instead, Mr Matheson said ScotRail services will be provided by an “arm’s length company”.
ScotRail staff will transfer to the new Scottish government-owned entity, with their terms and conditions protected, Mr Matheson said.
The company that takes over from Abellio will be paid for “internally within the existing rail budget,” he added.
“It will not be an additional cost over and above what we are already investing in rail.”
He also explained that the government is working on further Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs) for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises from April to September because of the financial impact of the pandemic, with support estimated to cost £173.1 million.
Reacting to the announcement, Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: “We welcome the beginning of the end of the failed franchise system here in Scotland.
“It’s now for all us in the railway to build a railway that’s accessible, affordable, and safe for the people of Scotland.”
A statement from ScotRail posted to Twitter said: “We want to reassure you that we’ll keep operating a reliable service to support the vaccine rollout and the opening up of the economy over the coming months, as preparations are made for the introduction of the changes ScotGov have announced.
The RMT General Secretary Mick Cash called for the move to happen in September, rather than March, adding the union would be working to ensure all workers jobs.
Additional reporting by Associated Press