Name the TTC's New Tunnel-Boring Machines
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Name the TTC’s New Tunnel-Boring Machines

Illustration by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.

The TTC is holding a contest to drum up name suggestions from the public for two pairs of tunnel-boring machines recently purchased to help carve out the forthcoming Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. Expected to be completed in 2015, the extension will add 8.6 kilometres to the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line, bringing it to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. The contest literature stresses that the massive tunnelling machines—which look like enormous, weaponized marshmallows—need names, because naming boring machines “is tradition.” In the public interest, we’ve compiled a few examples of boring-machine names that have already been put to use elsewhere in the world, so everyone can eliminate them from consideration from the get-go—because the names of our new subterranean diggers shouldn’t be repeats of previous ones.
That would be boring.

Near Hamburg, Germany, a research facility is in the process of constructing a 3.4 kilometre tunnel to accommodate a powerful X-ray machine, for use in studying microscopic objects and chemical reactions. Their boring machine is known as TULA, which is short for “TUnnel for LAser.”
Australia has done plenty of tunnelling over the past five years, and they never fail to name their machines. An underground stretch of highway between Brisbane city and its airport is being dug by Sandy, who weighs in at a svelte 3600 tonnes. The Clem Jones Tunnel, which allows cars to travel between Woolloongabba and Bowen Hills, also near Brisbane, was chewed out by Matilda, a four-thousand tonne machine, with a 12.4 metre cutting head. Rocking Ruby and Wonthaggi Maggie are digging twin tunnels for a desalination project in Victoria, while a cable tunnel in New South Wales was bored by Mary Ann.
Gabi 1 and Gabi 2, twin sisters, dug through more than seven kilometres of gneiss apiece to create a pair of new traffic tunnels in Switzerland.
Closer to home, a Richmond Hill grade three student gave the name “Motorclara” to a machine that was used to dig sewers in the Regional Municipality of York. Big Becky is in the process of digging a ten-kilometre power tunnel under Niagara Falls—a project that has faced years of setbacks, because rocks from overhead have been tumbling onto her backside, creating a dangerous situation for workers.
Rosie, who is in the process of digging a sewer tunnel for Portland, Oregon, tweets status updates.
Extrapolating from these examples, it seems likely that winners of the TTC’s contest will be female names that are either somewhat “strong” sounding (“Rocking Ruby”), or are ironically petite (“TULA”). Enter the contest right here, for a chance to win a “token of appreciation” and the opportunity to attend the launch of the four machines.

CORRECTION: SEPTEMBER 10, 2010 “Sandy,” the Brisbane airport link boring machine, is carving out a subterranean motorway, and not a rail tunnel, as this post originally stated.
CORRECTION: OCTOBER 15, 2010 This article also originally mistakenly stated that the TTC was seeking names for two tunnel-boring machines. In fact, there are two pairs of tunnel-boring machines, for a total of four machines.