Earth-chewing titanium went to Toronto to drill the city’s largest underground tunnel ever

The largest underground tunnel in Toronto’s 67-year underground transit comes as early preparatory work sets the stage for the 7.8-kilometer-long Scarborough Subway Extension.

By bringing TTC’s Line 2 east into the heart of Scarborough, the line has not come without controversy, its outrageous price of $ 5.5 billion and offering only half the number of stations like the supernatural Scarborough RT it will replace.

But despite its shortcomings, there is still plenty of the new line extension for transit nerds to get excited about.

Unlike the twin tunnels that carry trains along most of Toronto’s subway lines, Scarborough gets one large tunnel, wide enough for two sets of tracks. Both the eastbound and westbound tracks will be contained in a single tunnel with a diameter of 10.7 meters, much wider than your average transit tunnel.

It is not easy to build a tunnel of this size, and Metrolinx had to look all the way to the small town of Schwanau, Germany, near the French border, to pick up the giant tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will pave a path to Toronto’s next subway line. .

Metrolinx has been following the test of this huge TBM since day one, sharing photos of its collection and maple leaf-embossed cutting head.

Now tested and separated, TBM is ready for its transatlantic voyage to the line’s launching shaft, currently being excavated by McCowan and Sheppard.

Over the last few weeks, the dismantled TBM has been loaded into containers and sent by barge along the Rhine to the Dutch port of Westdorpe. From here it departs on Friday 26 November and crosses the Atlantic Ocean as part of a 6,300-kilometer hike to Toronto.

Scarborough subway extension

A container packed with TBM parts in the Dutch port of Westdorpe, waiting for its journey across the sea. Photo of Strabag via Metrolinx.

But what kind of ship do you need to get a 2,000 ton giant over a sea?

A Dutch heavy cargo container ship, aptly named Jumbo Vision, is the perfect ship for the task with an impressive cargo capacity of almost 7,000 tons. That is the weight of almost 4,000 cars in average size.

Scarborough subway extension

Jumbo Vision is loaded with containers filled with TBM parts in the Dutch port of Westdorpe. Photo of Strabag via Metrolinx.

Jumbo Vision’s roughly two weeks of travel will depart from Dutch coasts on Friday, but there will be more updates as the giant TBM makes further progress.

The next big update will happen when Jumbo Vision passes through St. Lawrence Seaway and arrives at the port of Oshawa in mid-December. From there, the shipping containers transporting the goods will be transported to the point of launch, assembled and lowered into the ground for a spring shipment.

Scarborough subway extension

Jumbo Vision is awaiting departure from the Dutch port of Westdorpe. Photo of Strabag via Metrolinx.

Scarborough RT is expected to close in 2023, and residents of Scarborough will have to ride replacement buses for years before the new tube extension opens, which is currently scheduled for 2029-2030.


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