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The east–west scheme was for a line from Liverpool Street to Paddington/Marylebone with two connections at its western end linking the tunnel to the Great Western Main Line and the Metropolitan line on the Underground.

Positioning a new station at Paddington presented structural design challenges due to its positioning just below Eastbourne Terrace and the station's taxi rank, and within 3 metres of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 150 year old mainline station.

The need for extra capacity along this corridor is such that the former head of Tf L, Sir Peter Hendy, predicted that the Crossrail lines will be "immediately full" as soon as they open.

The concept of large-diameter tunnels crossing central London to connect Paddington in the west and Liverpool Street in the east was first proposed by railwayman George Dow in The Star newspaper in June 1941.

The central tunnels run from a portal just west of Paddington to Whitechapel, with further tunnelling to Stratford and to Canary Wharf.

There will be new stations at Paddington, Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Whitechapel, with interchanges with the London Underground and other National Rail services.

A "dive-under" was constructed at Acton to allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains leaving and entering a goods yard.

It was completed in July 2016 and was brought into use in 2017.

Part of the eastern section, between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in Essex, was transferred to a precursor service called Tf L Rail in 2015; this section will be connected to the core route through central London to Paddington from May 2019.