Scarborough Subway Extension tunnel borer machine arrives at Port of Oshawa


Published December 17, 2021 at 10:21 am

A massive tunnel boring machine – 12 metres in diameter – arrived in the Port of Oshawa this week, destined for Shepherd and McCowan and the Scarborough Subway Extension.

Three machines, in fact, arrived in Lake Ontario this week, with two, slightly smaller tunnel borers (6.5 metres in diameter each) being discharged at the Port of Hamilton for the Eglinton Crosstown Extension subway project.

Stevedores have been busy all week in Oshawa offloading the machine from the heavy load carrier Jumbo Vision piece by piece, an operation the local stevedore company, QSL, has been planning for more than a year.

“QSL is a provider of tailor-made solutions for all cargo types,” said QSL Senior Sales Representative, Kevin Paradis-Rioux. “This particular job has taken over a year to coordinate from start to finish.”

Come spring, the Scarborough tunnel boring machine will begin burrowing a single 7.8 kilometre-long tunnel – from Sheppard and McCowan to Kennedy Station – clearing an underground pathway for the three-stop Scarborough Subway Extension. The project is due for completion in 2030.

Weighing in at 2,000 tonnes, the machine will help build the largest subway tunnel in Toronto’s transit history. All three machines are so large they had to be loaded into (and out of) the vessels in pieces for assembly at their final destinations.

The tunnel boring machines were all manufactured by Herrenknecht in Germany and arrived here Tuesday morning following a two-week journey across the Atlantic from Westdrope in the Netherlands.

The twin cutter heads bound for the Eglinton Crosstown West project came through the Port of Hamilton aboard the Federal Delta and were handled by stevedore company Federal Marine Terminals.

The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, expected to be complete in 2030-2031, will extend the Eglinton Crosstown LRT another 9.2 kilometres farther west through Etobicoke and into Mississauga. The twin machines arriving through the Port of Hamilton will tunnel the section between Renforth Drive and Scarlett Road.


“Projects like the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and the Scarborough Subway Extension will not only benefit the communities where they are being built, but the region as a whole,” said Phil Verster, Metrolinx President and CEO. “We’re happy to see these incredible machines arrive through local ports in Hamilton and Oshawa as part of their journeys to their respective launch sites.”

Metrolinx is holding a naming contest for the three boring machines, and you can vote for your favourites until December 22 here:

Shortlist for the Scarborough Subway Extension tunnel boring machine include:

  • Diggy Scardust
  • Scar-burrow
  • Scarbie SX
  • Rouge
  • Elizabeth

As bookends to the Greater Golden Horseshoe, Oshawa and Hamilton’s ports are key gateways to the most densely populated area of Southern Ontario and the country’s busiest construction zone.

“As an integrated port network, we look to create better connections for businesses and industrial users moving cargo throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe, just like Metrolinx does for rail passengers,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “We’re thrilled to see goods move through the Ports of Hamilton and Oshawa, which will, in turn, help people move more efficiently.”

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