Business travel firms have given the thumbs up to the government’s planned shake-up of the UK rail network.

The GTMC welcomed the new strategic vision for rail, unveiled yesterday by the Department for Transport.

GTMC chief executive Adrian Parkes said: “It is encouraging to see that the government is taking positive steps towards delivering greater competition on the rail network by offering more operators the chance to participate in the tender process, and giving smaller operators the opportunity to bid for franchises.

“Greater competition is key to delivering better ticket pricing and improving service levels.

“Likewise the proposals to bring freight lines back into use for passenger services will extend the UK rail network and in turn extend opportunity for business travel and economic growth beyond London and the south-east.”

He added: “Our own research has shown that there is a strong demand for rail travel from business travellers.

“That being said investment is needed across the network to extend capacity and competition as well as onboard facilities such as free wi-fi to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the business community. Increasing competition from franchise operators and increasing capacity are important steps in achieving this.”