ScotRail new boss has been told to 'act quickly' and turn around the operator
Alex Hynes, managing director of Arriva Rail North, will succeed Phil Verster, who last week announced his departure amid mounting criticism.
Mr Verster stood down to take on a new job in England after less than two years in £260,000 ScotRail Alliance post.
There has been widespread public anger over delays, cancellations, and overcrowding on services.
Abellio, the Dutch state-owned firm that operates ScotRail, has faced calls to be stripped of its £7billion, 10-year franchise after failing to meet key targets.
Mr Hynes, whose current employers run trains in the north of England, said he was excited to be part of plans to "vastly improve services".
He will join ScotRail as managing director later in the year.
Mr Hynes said: "The ScotRail Alliance is delivering one of the largest programmes of investment, change and modernisation since the railway was built.
"To be part of that, and the plans to vastly improve services and capacity for customers, is hugely exciting for me."
They need to act quickly to fix the recent poor performance of ScotRail
Mike Rumbles for the Lib Dems
Opposition MSPs welcomed his appointment but warned both he and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf had to get to grips with problems.
Mike Rumbles for the Lib Dems said: "They need to act quickly to fix the recent poor performance of ScotRail which has brought misery to thousands of passengers."
Labour's Neil Bibby added: "ScotRail has a new managing director, but ultimately it is down to Humza Yousaf to fix the mess the SNP has made of Scotland's rail network."
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Phil Verster announced he was leaving his role as managing director last week
Quango Transport Scotland last year ordered ScotRail to put in place an improvement plan after performance slipped below contracted standards.
And last week it emerged Scottish Government £3 million plan to give a week's free train travel relied on £1.8 million fund earmarked for other projects.
Tories have previously called for the payments to be axed.
Conservative committee member and the party's local government spokesman Graham Simpson said: "It's plainly wrong that council bosses who are already well paid from the public purse should receive thousands extra for this. Quite simply, it should be part of the job.
Angry rail users are calling for Abellio to lose its £7bn franchise deal
"The public wouldn't object to small payments being made, but examples have got way out of hand over the years, and now it has to end."
An Electoral Commission spokeswoman said: "We welcome the committee's report and look forward to contributing to any further review of how improvements can be made to the funding of returning officers.
"Our priority when considering any proposed changes will be to ensure that the independence and accountability of those responsible for delivering polls in Scotland is properly maintained."