Huge Mississauga tunnel-digging machines now have nicknames


Published January 28, 2022 at 4:28 pm

One of the two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) that will dig through dirt for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension is shown here in Germany before making the long trip to Mississauga. (Photo: Metrolinx)

Two huge machines that will dig the tunnels for a major light rail transit (LRT) project in east Mississauga have been given nicknames as they prepare for the heavy workload ahead.

The massive tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), which will create the tunnels for the below-ground segment of the 9.2 -kilometre route that will bring the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Toronto west to Renforth Dr. in Mississauga by 2030-31, had their names chosen via a public contest. 

Moving forward on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) project, the TBMs will be known informally as Rexy and Renny.

Contest entrants Steven Sansano and Ryan Bignell submitted the winning entries. Sansano came up with the names Rexy and Renny while Bignell submitted Renny.

Metrolinx, the agency overseeing the ECWE project, says the nicknames are a tribute to Renforth Station in Mississauga and the Rexdale neighbourhood in nearby northwest Toronto.

Metrolinx launched the naming contest last October and received hundreds of entries.

Check out this short video to see the winning names revealed. (Video: Metrolinx)

Sansano says his submission was inspired by the connection between transit and the community.

“Public transit is very important to a community because it makes that community more accessible to the entire population and brings people closer together,” said Sansano, explaining why he submitted the name Rexy. “Renny is for Renforth Station, which is an important hub connecting Mississauga Transit, GO Transit and TTC all in one location.”

Metrolinx officials say the parts of the huge TBMs are on site and assembly, which will take several months, has begun.

They’re expected to be lowered into the ground and begin digging in the spring.

With much fanfare, key parts of the TBMs arrived from Germany by cargo ship last month in Hamilton. They were then trucked with police escort up the QEW to the east Mississauga work site.

The cutter heads for Rexy and Renny, each weighing some 65 tonnes and measuring 6.5 metres in diameter, arrived at the ECWE tunnel launch site by truck just before Christmas.

They had arrived in Hamilton one week earlier after a cross-Atlantic cargo ship journey of some 11,000 kilometres from Germany that took more than three weeks.

“Once all the parts are on site, the team will start the process of assembling these machines, a process that takes months,” Metrolinx said. “Once they’re assembled, they’ll be lowered into the ground to begin the big dig.”

In the meantime, crews have been working to prepare the launch shaft for the TBMs. The large hole at the launch site measures 80 metres in length, 20 metres in width and 17 metres deep.

“That’s big enough to hold about 10 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of water,” project officials say.

Metrolinx, says projects such as the ECWE “will not only benefit the communities where they are being built, but the region as a whole.”

In addition, a proposal to extend the ECWE an additional 4.7 kilometres from Renforth Dr. to Pearson Airport in Mississauga is one step closer to reality after the Ontario government recently reaffirmed its support for the plan. 

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