Train journeys between Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee are slower now than they were during the reign of Queen Victoria.
The astonishing findings come amid a storm of criticism of ScotRail operator Abellio due to late trains and delays.
Despite being powered by steam, locomotives in 1895 were able to make the trip from the Capital to Dundee in just 57 minutes, historic timetables show – compared to today’s 64 minutes.
And a journey to Perth which would have taken 65 minutes at the end of the 19th century now takes 72 minutes.
Opposition parties have called on Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to make an urgent statement to Parliament over proposals to bring Scotland’s railways into public ownership.
Responding to the findings of research by Scottish Labour, ScotRail blamed the slower journey times today on the fact there are now far more stations and trains to deal with than in the 19th century.
The direct rail route from Edinburgh to Perth via Dunfermline, Kinross and Glenfarg was closed in 1970 to make way for the M90 motorway.
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “While the route has of course changed, it will still amaze passengers that journey times between the capital and Perth and Dundee can be slower than services were in the age of steam.
“And passengers travelling in the 21st century far too often face delays and cancellations.
“Vital engineering work is under way to upgrade our railways, and that is to be welcomed, although the level of disruption in recent months has been unacceptable.”
A ScotRail Alliance spokeswoman said: “The railways have been a major success story for Scotland, attracting record numbers of passengers, new stations and more trains.
“However, this makes it much more challenging to deliver faster journeys on busy sections of the network.”