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Here’s a Video That Shows How Subway Tunnels Are Built

Where do subways come from?

In all the debate over how and where Toronto should or could build subways, a lot of big-dollar figures have been reported in the press. We all know underground transit costs billions of dollars to build, but do you know why that’s the case? It’s because people have to build those tunnels one section at a time, using big, scary-looking machines.

In the video above, released earlier today by the TTC, John Brown, an assistant construction site manager involved in overseeing the ongoing Spadina Subway Extension project, narrates footage of the actual process of subway construction between Downsview Park and Downsview Station. It looks painstaking.

The video is a very eloquent explanation of why the new subway tracks—which will run between Downsview Station and Vaughan Corporate Centre—aren’t expected to open for business for about three more years. Point made, TTC: infrastructure takes time.

This is only the latest in a series of highly entertaining propaganda videos released by the TTC. (You may remember the last one, which involved tunnel-boring machines smashing through a concrete wall. There’s a little bit more of that in this video, if you watch until the end.) Keep it up, guys.


  • brakbrak from Poland

    TBM boring in Warsaw, Poland is diffrent. I can’t see machining knife at Toronto TBM. And as i understand they use wagons to export grit. Our grit is transported by conveyor belt.

    • Josh A

      Depends on the length and complexity of the tunnel. Because of the curves, that may rule out a conveyor system and require the use of a more tradiaitional “wagon” type of extraction. As for the cutting head (aka the “knife”) that varies depending on the material being dug through.