Irish retailer Paul Kelly, chief executive of London department store Selfridges, has called on the British government to continue with its plans to develop Crossrail, the trans-London underground route.

Kelly joined with John King, CEO of House of Fraser, and Marks & Spencer chairman Stuart Rose, in calling for the investment to go ahead.

They said the British government "must not take the easy route of cutting investment in vital capital projects that are the engine of future growth as a way of reducing costs. Crossrail is at the heart of London's economic growth. It will be the centrepiece of a world-class transport system that will power the City, tourism, retail and many of other industries that make London by far the UK's most successful revenue-generating region, pouring billions into the nation's tax coffers. Over time Crossrail has and will be the catalyst to billions of pounds of investment in property and retail development along its entire route".

The retailers, backed by property companies and department stores, believe the omission of a station planned for the West End would severely compromise the project "for short-term savings which will be both very difficult to rectify at a later date and cost more. A station in the heart of London cannot just be added some years in the future, nor is it acceptable to presume businesses will contribute to a watered-down scheme".