The tunnel boring machines for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension are on the move

The tunnel boring machines (TBMs) for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension are one step closer to arriving, as cargo ships carrying the big diggers recently departed Germany and began their journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Here’s a look at the journey for these mighty machines.

Before they begin to dig the twin tunnels for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, the tunnel boring machines have a long way to travel.

After undergoing testing at the Herreknecht facility in Germany in October, the tunnel boring machines were dismantled and packaged into 14 shipping containers for their voyage. They started by travelling to the riverport in Kehl, Germany then onto Antwerp in Belgium, where they set sail for North America.

The cutter heads (the iconic rotating wheel, shown below) actually make the journey in one piece.

The cutterhead is one of the largest parts of a TBM and is found at the front of the machine, which has disc cutters that rotate to loosen rock and soil.

Each cutterhead weighs about 65 tonnes and is laid down on a flatbed on the bridge of the ship to make the journey across the Atlantic.

One of the cutter wheels for one of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension’s tunnel boring machines being loaded onto a ship
One of the cutter wheels for one of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension’s tunnel boring machines being loaded onto a ship. (Metrolinx photo)

TBM Tracking

Metrolinx has chosen to track the cutterheads, since it is the most photogenic part of the machine and the one people recognize the most.

Shipping from Antwerp on the Federal Delta, the cutterheads are travelling about 11,112 kilometres before arriving at a port in Hamilton, Ontario.

After clearing customs, the shipping containers carrying the TBMs will then be moved by truck to the launch site at Renforth Drive and Commerce Boulevard, where they will be assembled and lowered into the ground in the spring.

Metrolinx is chronicling the TBMs’ journey on the Federal Delta as it makes its way to Mississauga.

Transit fans can check back to the TBM naming contest page or follow the project on social media.

The ECWE tunnel boring machine in the German factory.
The ECWE tunnel boring machine in the German factory. (Metrolinx photo)

TBM Naming Contest

As the TBM gets ready to travel, Metrolinx is getting closer to finding a name for these mighty machines.

The submission period for the first phase of the contest closed on Nov. 18 with over 140 entries submitted by the community.

The second phase of the contest is now live, with a shortlist of entries that will be voted on by the community. Visit the contest page to learn more about the contest and how you can participate. 

The winning name will be announced in the new year when the tunnel boring machines arrive at the launch shaft site.

For the latest project updates and to sign up for the project newsletter, visit Metrolinx.com/EglintonWest or follow the project on Twitter.

Story by Kimberly Murphy, Metrolinx communications senior advisor, subways