Tunneling Begins on Eglinton Crosstown West Extension

Metrolinx on April 11 marked a major milestone with the start of tunneling on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, the 9.2-km extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Mount Dennis Station to Renforth Drive.

Rexy and Renny, the two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, are starting their biggest journey yet. After travelling across the globe – from the Herrenknecht factory in Germany to a port in Hamilton, Ontario, before arriving at the tunnel launch site in Mississauga. Now it’s finally time to start digging transit tunnels.

Over the next 20 months, these two massive machines will work 20 m below ground, digging twin tunnels that will stretch over 6 km in length.

These tunnels will form a large part of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, which will expand the soon-to-be-completed Eglinton Crosstown LRT another 9.2 km west, to Renforth Drive.

The two TBMs will start digging from the launch site near Renforth Drive and Eglinton Avenue West, moving 10 to 15 m a day as they travel east to Scarlett Road, where they will be pulled out of the ground.

There, the route will run along an elevated section of tracks a few hundred meters east of Jane Street, before lowering back into another stretch of tunnels that will be part of another package of work.

Metrolinx is also working with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and municipal partners to explore plans to further connect the line to Toronto Pearson Airport.

Massive machines

  •  The TBMs weigh about 750 tonnes each, about five times as heavy as a blue whale
  •  They are each 6.58 metres in diameter, which is taller than a giraffe
  • At 131 metres in length, they are each a little over a quarter of the height of the CN Tower
  • To get the site ready to start tunnelling, a launch shaft was made that could hold the volume of 11 Olympic-size swimming pools


The precast tunnel liners for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension are being manufactured by CSI Forterra Canada in Whitby – the same company that is supplying liners for the Scarborough Subway Extension. The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension project will require 7,400 concrete rings for its twin tunnels.

While Rexy and Renny make their way east, construction is also starting at the extraction shaft near Scarlett Road and Eglinton Avenue West later this spring, with headwall construction at Martin Grove Road and Kipling Avenue also starting this spring.

This article was written by Kimberly Murphy, senior advisor, Metrolinx subway program

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