Skip to main content of this page.

Project Newsletter - Fall 2012

November 30, 2012

Holey and Moley Make Project History!

On June 11, 2012 the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation and Member of Parliament for Vaughan; His Worship Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto; York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch and Toronto Transit Commission Chair Karen Stintz joined special guests and the media at a site adjacent to the future Sheppard West Station to celebrate and mark an important tunnelling milestone for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension Project the completion of the first segment of twin tunnels.

Creating Jobs Improving Transit

(Left to Right) York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, TTC Chair Karen Stintz and Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino hold a project sign titled Creating Jobs Improving Transit.

Tunnel boring machine (TBM) “Holey” broke through the headwall at the Keele Street extraction shaft on May 1, 2012. A little more than a month later, “Moley” joined “Holey” and completed the adjacent twin tunnel, breaking through on June 4, 2012. “Holey” and “Moley” completed in total 1.6 kilometres of twin tunnels. This breakthrough marks the first major step toward the extension of the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway line through York University and the City of Vaughan.

Moley breaks through the headwall.

(Workers celebrate the breakthrough of TBM Moley).

Last summer “Holey” and “Moley” were disassembled and moved to the next launch shaft at the east end of Sheppard West Station where they are on the move, tunnelling east toward Downsview Station. “Holey” and “Moley” will each bore 1.2 kilometres on this drive. It is expected that “Holey” and “Moley” will arrive at the extraction shaft at Allen Road, just north of Sheppard Avenue West early in the New Year.

Moley (left) and Holey (right) prepare to launch.

(Moley (left) and Holey (right) being prepared to launch the final drive for the southern tunnels).

Moley's completed tunnel.

(Moley's completed tunnel).

“Yorkie” and “Torkie” are boring the northern tunnels for the project. Both machines have successfully completed their drives underneath York University buildings and made excellent progress in their drive toward the Keele Street extraction shaft. “Yorkie” and “Torkie” arrived at the Keele Street extraction shaft on Thursday, November 29, 2012. They are now being disassembled and transported up to the Highway 407 launch shaft where they will commence boring activities southbound toward the Steeles West Station extraction site.

“Holey,” “Moley,” “Yorkie” and “Torkie” are the official names of the machines that are boring the tunnels for the TYSSE project. These names were chosen as part of a public naming contest. The TBMs will be used to build a total of
6.7 kilometres of twin tunnels.

A section of TBM Yorkie's tunnel.

(TBM "Yorkie" tunnel.)

Yorkie and Torkie breakthrough the headwall.

(TBM "Yorkie" and "Torkie" breakthrough the headwall at Keele Street.)

Meet Our Tunnelling Experts!

(Left) David Urwin and (Right) John Brown

(Left) David Urwin and (Right) John Brown

Toronto is the new home for two Assistant Construction Site Managers tasked with overseeing the tunnelling operations of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension on behalf of TTC.

“We love it here!” explained John Brown and David Urwin, both originally from England. John is leading the project for the southern tunnels; David for the northern tunnels. They are responsible for keeping their respective projects on time and on budget.

“It was pure luck,” David said of his move to Toronto. “Cities can’t sustain tunnelling projects for very long, so you tend to move around with demand.” David had worked in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia, before coming to work in Toronto.

John had just completed a tunnel project in Australia when he discovered the job in Canada. “Australia, as great as it might be, is on the other side of the world. Toronto, being closer to the East Coast, is only seven hours from London, so the proximity was definitely a draw.” There were other advantages, too. “I love checking out a ball game or soccer match,” John explained. “I had no idea the summers here were so hot!” Toronto, boasting its hottest year on record, has made tunnelling easier for the duo, who are used to working in warmer climates. However, you can always expect the unexpected when navigating a new environment. David and John got their first lesson working a few cold nights last winter. Equipment that had been sitting outside needed to be warmed in a heating tent before installation. “That’s something we’ve never seen before,” said David. Along with the environment, working with existing client’s infrastructure can also be challenging. David and John manage a team of inspectors, engineers, tunnel managers and designers who survey the sites before, during, and after tunnelling.

Four tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are required to complete the massive project. Each machine drills an average of 15 metres per day. In a tradition carried on throughout the world, TBMs are often named before drilling begins, as a sign of good luck for the project ahead. The TTC held a contest and selected “Holey,” “Moley” and “Yorkie,” “Torkie” a nod to the long-awaited transit expansion from Toronto into York Region. John thought the names were “quite reasonable,” compared to others he’s worked with. “I was on a project building a sewer tunnel in Melbourne, Australia and that machine was called Lucy Loo!” John laughed.

Once the tunnelling is completed, David and John will hand their work to a new construction manager, who will oversee track and signal installation. “Hopefully, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension won’t be the last tunnelling project that we do in Toronto,” said John, reaffirming his love for the city.

Great Destinations Along the Way

Once it’s generally agreed where a subway needs to go, many factors influence which path it will take. Geology, budget, engineering, and destinations are just a few. The last one, destinations, is likely the most interesting for future passengers.

The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension will stop at the new stations of Sheppard West, Finch West, York University, Steeles West, Highway 407 and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (north of Highway 7). This subway extension will bring fast, convenient access to those who work and live in these areas and to those who visit.

The new Sheppard West Station will be a neighbour to both Downsview Park and Downsview Airport (YZD). Join a sports league or go to a concert or free movie under the stars at the park, or even learn to fly at the airport.

Lake and Orchard, Downsview Park

(Lake and Orchard, Downsview Park)

Near the Finch West, York University and Steeles West Stations, Black Creek Pioneer Village will provide an escape from the modern world to a typical community found in the Toronto area during the 19th century. Associated with the pursuit of higher education, nearby York University is also a destination for concerts and sports events and has a vibrant social scene. For the more than 60,000 students and faculty travelling to and from York’s campuses in the GTA, riding the subway will be the smart choice. The Keele/Finch area has many schools and small businesses, and residents are sure to make use of a new subway.

Black Creek Pioneer Village - Roblins Mill

(Black Creek Pioneer Village - Roblins Mill)

The Highway 407 and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Stations will serve as gateways to other destinations within York Region. North of Highway 7, Vaughan Mills outlet mall offers shopping, dining and entertainment and Canada’s Wonderland is an amusement park not to be missed. The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station will be surrounded by attractive, pedestrian-friendly spaces with great shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Building transit means we’re building connections to where people live, to workplaces and education, and to exciting destinations along the way.

Community Project Office Opening in Vaughan

A new project information offi ce will be opening soon in the City of Vaughan, to be shared by the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project and the vivaNext Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) rapidway project along Highway 7.

Residents and businesses are invited to visit the office to see visuals of each project and talk to project staff about construction. The location will be at 7800 Jane Street (northwest corner of Jane Street and Highway 7 West), near the future subway station, rapidway station and bus terminal.

The new office will be in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) development area, which will be busy over the next few years. Construction is underway to build the VMC Subway Station, and work is about to start on the Highway 7 rapidway - dedicated lanes for viva rapid transit. The rapidway will extend 3.5 kilometres from Interchange Way/Edgeley Boulevard to just east of Keele Street at Bowes Road. Near Jane Street, transit will connect with a combination of the subway station, a BRT rapidway station, and an inter-regional bus terminal - all within walking distance. Each project is funded and built separately, and together they’ll create an important hub for transit in southern Ontario.

Map of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station Neighbourhood

(Map of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Neighbourhood.)

The key to successful transit is to make important connections. By linking Toronto and York Region with convenient, efficient transit, we’re improving the transit network across the Greater Toronto Area.

Tunnelling Facts

Construction Liaison Officers - Your Link to the TYSSE Project

Christina Joseph and Theresa Buck are Construction Liaison Officers dedicated to the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) Project. They circulate among each of the six unique TYSSE neighbourhoods in Toronto and Vaughan providing residents, businesses, students and various stakeholders with regular project information and construction notices. As part of the TYSSE construction team, Christina and Theresa work proactively to respond to stakeholders’ concerns.

As Construction Liaison Officers, Christina and Theresa aim to keep everyone informed and moving during construction and help with coordination between construction and stakeholders.

(Left) Theresa Buck and (Right) Christina Joseph

(Left: Theresa Buck and Right: Christina Joseph)

TTC is taking steps to keep communities moving during construction including:

You can contact our Construction Liaison staff by phone, in person or by email. We offer a live 24-7 multilingual construction information line at 1-800-223-6192. Our email address is

You are welcome to drop by and say hello at one of our Project Information Centres:


Bus Route Changes


Review the new changes to bus routes in the area to connect to the new subway extension.

Read about it here!

Need Information

To contact us for information about the project:

Call 416-393-4636 (INFO) automated information available 24 hours daily.

Contact the Project

Photo Gallery

Check out the latest construction photos and project YouTube videos.

Click here to view the Photo Gallery.

Project News