Metrolinx launches naming contests for Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and Scarborough Subway Extension tunnel boring machines

People are getting the chance to name a trio of digging machines, as they make their way to Canada from overseas. Find out below how you can throw your name into the hat.

Starting today (Oct. 19), communities along the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and the Scarborough Subway Extension will have chance to put their mark on transit history.

Metrolinx has started naming contests for the giant machines that will dig the tunnels for these two important projects.

Over 6,000 kilometres away from Toronto, in a little town called Schwanau in Germany, three mighty earth-moving machines are being prepared to transform transit in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

But before they begin their voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to Canada, Metrolinx is inviting community members and transit fans to name the newest members of the Metrolinx tunnelling family.

The tunnel boring machines, manufactured by a company called Herrenknecht, are being custom-built for each respective subway project – one machine was built for the Scarborough Subway Extension’s single tunnel and two machines are being built for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension’s twin tunnels.

Both projects are well on their way to bring modern rapid transit to the region, with each one’s tunnel launch shaft site reaching new depths every day.

Excavation work at the Scarborough Subway Extension launch shaft site
Excavation work continues at the Scarborough Subway Extension launch shaft site. (Metrolinx photo)

Naming the tunnel boring machines

Anyone can submit name ideas for these tunnel boring machines until Nov. 18. Looking for inspiration? Think about local landmarks, special places, local history, or something important in the communities these rapid transit lines will serve – or even something important personally meaningful.

The Scarborough Subway Extension tunnel boring machine during factory testing in Germany
The Scarborough Subway Extension tunnel boring machine during factory testing in Germany. (Metrolinx photo)

After the submission period closes on Nov. 18, a judging panel will create a short list from all the entries and these names will be posted online for the community to vote on their top choices. Winners of the naming contests will be credited and have the chance be part of a photo-op with these mammoth machines.

Winning names will be announced when the tunnel boring machines arrive at their respective launch shaft sites in Scarborough and Etobicoke.

Metrolinx launched a similar tunnel boring naming contest for the Eglinton Crosstown in 2012. The winning names for that contest were Dennis and Lea, representing the Mount Dennis and Leaside neighbourhoods, and Don and Humber, representing the local rivers.

Crowds gather at night to watch one of the huge tunnelling machines move into position.
On April 18, 2015, the public came out to witness the extraction and relaunch of the Crosstown LRT TBMs at Allen Road and Eglinton Avenue. They would continue their journey towards Yonge Street. (Metrolinx photo)

These new contests are open to submissions from anyone 18 years or older but younger participants are also encouraged to participate with the help of a parent, guardian or teacher.

To submit names and read the rules for the Scarborough Subway Extension naming contest, visit

To submit names and read the rules for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension naming contest, visit For this particular contest, community members are invited to submit pairs of names so that both the project’s tunnel boring machines have names that go well together.

One of the two Eglinton Crosstown West Extension tunnel boring machines during factory testing in Germany. (Metrolinx photo)

Follow the TBMs’ journey

As names are crowdsourced for these tunnel boring machines, Metrolinx will be tracking their journeys as they travel across the Atlantic Ocean to Canadian shores. The Scarborough Subway Extension’s tunnel boring machine will leave Germany in early November while the Eglinton Crosstown West’s machines will leave Germany later that same month.

All three machines are expected to arrive in Canada in January and are expected to start tunnelling in the spring.

Each contest page will feature a tunnel boring machine tracking tool when they set sail for Canada in November, so keep checking back for updates as they cross the globe.

For more information about the Scarborough Subway Extension and to contact the project, visit

For the latest Eglinton Crosstown West Extension updates, visit

Story by Joshua Patel and Kimberly Murphy, Metrolinx senior advisors, subway program