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The project that became Crossrail has origins in the 1943 County of London Plan and 1944 Greater London Plan by Patrick Abercrombie.
These led to a specialist investigation by the Railway (London Plan) Committee, appointed in 1944 and reporting in 19.
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.
The western section, from Paddington to Heathrow Airport and Reading in Berkshire, is due to open in December 2019, completing the new east–west route across London and providing a new high-frequency commuter and suburban passenger service.
One of the two eastern sections runs underground from Whitechapel to Stratford, then on the surface on the existing main line.
The service will replace the "Shenfield metro", with key stops at Ilford, Romford (for interchange with London Overground services to Upminster), Gidea Park (where some peak hour trains will start or terminate), and Shenfield.
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.
The project was approved in 2007 and construction began in 2009 on the central section and connections to existing lines that will become part of the route.
An almost entirely new line will branch from the main line at Whitechapel to Canary Wharf, crossing under the River Thames, with a new station at Woolwich and finally connecting with the North Kent Line at the Abbey Wood terminus.
One branch runs to Heathrow Central (for Terminals 2 and 3), Heathrow Terminal 4 and Heathrow Terminal 5, The main western section runs on the surface from Reading to Acton Main Line.
Upgrades are being made to stations at Maidenhead, Taplow, Burnham, Slough, Langley, Iver, West Drayton, Hayes & Harlington, Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line.
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Although the idea was seen as imaginative, only a brief estimate of cost was given: £300 million.