Plans for extended UK rail links and increased competition on lines have won the support of the Guild of Travel Management Companies.

The guild is backing the sale of access rights for two new rail services on the West Coast main line between London and Blackpool and London and Huddersfield which require approval by the Office of Rail Regulation.

If given the green light, Great North Western Railway Company will operate six daily return trips between London and Blackpool from 2017.

There would also be six daily returns between London and Huddersfield, via Manchester Victoria and Leeds from 2018 with the creation of 200 jobs.

The GTMC hopes the decision will pave the way for the further development of ‘open access’ – the sale of access rights – across the rail network.

A survey of 1,000 business travellers earlier this year found that almost three quarters (74%) supported two rail companies competing on the same line.

Guild chief executive Paul Wait said: “This is a key step forward in the development of open access and greater competition across the UK rail network.

“There is great support for open access from the business travel community, not least because it will generate numerous benefits in terms of cost, connectivity and productivity from open access operators competing against incumbent franchisees.

“Certainly the business communities in Huddersfield and Blackpool would benefit for improved connectivity which in turn will lead to economic growth opportunities for both towns.

“We would urge the Office of Rail Regulation to support this agreement and approve the sale so that business travellers and UK plc can start to reap the economic benefits of improved open access.”