The body representing the UK’s business travel agencies is calling for those opposing the HS2 high speed rail link to rethink.

The Guild of Travel Management Companies set out its case for the UK rail connection amid petitions against the proposed line and a debate in Parliament.

Guild chief executive Paul Wait said:  “The Gtmc has been continually vocal in its support of High Speed Rail and calls for a cross party consensus on HS2. As the voice of the business traveller we would actively encourage those considering to petition against HS2 to reconsider.

“Research has shown that increased capacity and connectivity between the north and south can offer clear benefits for the UK business traveller in terms of cost, connectivity and productivity. In particular, nearly three quarters (70%) of business travellers of the future (those aged 18-29 years) support HS2, which demonstrates its future potential.”

He added: “For HS2 to truly realise its potential its development needs to be strategic – we believe links to Heathrow and Europe are key in order to allow immediate and direct interchanges for business travellers between modes of transport.

“In turn it is the impact on UK plc and future growth of the economy where the benefits of HS2 will be most keenly felt.”

Last night MP’s voted to give the go ahead for the initial stages of the project despite a revolt by 35 Tory politicians.

The government says it expects work to start by 2017.