The Cost of Tunneling

The huge cost of tunneling for subway projects are barely mentioned in the media.

€4.4 billion for 6 km of twin bore tunnel and seven stations equals CAD $6.08 billion or CAD $1.o1 billion per km to build.

This should give pause for thought to BC and regional politicians that the high cost of subway construction will negatively impact other transportation projects in the province. with the 7 km plus Broadway subway, Arbutus to UBC section, yet to be built, one can estimate the cost in excess of CAD $7 billion!

Locally, $7 billion can buy the following:

  1. A completely rebuilt E&N railway providing up to three trains per hour per direction, servicing Victoria to Port Alberni and Courtney.
  2. A complete Leewood/RftV regional railway providing up to 3 trains per hour per direction, servicing Vancouver to Chilliwack.
  3. A stand alone European style tramway, running from BCIT to UBC and Stanley Park.

Easily 400 km of rail transit, connecting scores of towns, major destinations and tourist attractions, as well as providing an attractive and affordable alternative to the car.

Today, subways are the “flavour of the month”. Politicians love them because they firmly believe that the more money one spends on transit, the better it is and big business loves them because they receive huge amounts of taxpayer;s monies to build them.

Yet, building subways, creates a politcal myopia for transit investment, because the huge costs means only a small length of subway is actually built and the only alternative is building new and bigger highways, bridges and tunnels to carry the traffic, which is exactly what is happening with highway 99 from the Oak Street Bridge to White Rock!


The huge cost of subways, which inturn grossly inflates the cost of 'rail transit' makes new highway construction the only alternative.

The huge cost of subways, which in turn grossly inflates the cost of ‘rail transit’ makes new highway construction the only alternative.


Vinci, Ferrovial land €4.4bn Toronto metro tunnelling project


4 Responses to “The Cost of Tunneling”
  1. legoman0320 says:

    Rough calculation E&N Railway from Victoria to Nanaimo only. PLS how about with the quote bringing the service too Vancouver Island.

    O km Victoria at Esquimaf RD and Habor RD

    13 km to Langford

    64 km to Dunbar

    82 km to Chemaiu

    94 km to Ladysmith

    100 km to Nanaimo airport

    120 KM to Nanaimo at downtown Nanaimo exchange

    By train 1 hour and 30 minutes nonstop 80 kilometres per hour

    By car an 1 hour and a half 111 km(following the speed limit) Google maps

    Current public transit would take 3 hours

    30 minute frequency

    (3 Hr round trip)180 minutes/ 30 minutes.
    You would need six Trains and 1 spare train

    If the line was handed over for free transport minister. Upfront cost: accessible platforms, passing track, Cost of maintaining, training of the crew, New rolling stock, signals and crossings. Much of the operational cost will be on BC transit and local tax dollars to fund E&N railway alignment between Nanaimo to Victoria. This will be a whole lot better than the 11th bus per day( weekday service)

    Need Upgraded for higher speeds, electrification, station upgrades and double tracking. Better connectivity with bus and BC ferries!!!

    Cost of Rolling stock, cost of maintenance on Vancouver Island, cost of a platform, cost of insurance, News signals and crossing system.

    Currently, it’s not kind competitive in its current state
    Possibly upgrading the track speed to 120+ km/h. Could save up to 30 minutes Tothe trip and increase frequency have the same operating cost per year.

    Zwei replies: So much misunderstanding about railways. Regional railways max. speeds tend to be no higher than 90 kph for many reasons, with the big one track design and maintenance. Sorry to say, nice try but no “banana” as your scheme, at best is unworkable.

  2. legoman0320 says:

    0 km Esquimaf RD and Habor RD +1 min

    3.6 km Admirals Rd +1 min

    12 km Jacklin Rd +1 min

    16.5 km Goldstream +1 min Request stop

    20 km Prospector’s Trail +1 min

    35 km Shawnigan Lake Rd +1 min request stop

    40 km Storey Rd +1 min

    44.2 km Thrush Rd +1 min

    56 km Koksilah Rd +1 min request stop

    60 km Koislah River +1 min

    63.2 kmTrunk Rd +1 min

    66 km Cowichan Commons +1 min

    72 km Lyackson First Nation +1 min request stop

    80 km Crozier Rd +1 min

    83.5 km Cedar St +1 min Request stop

    94 km Ladysmith +1 min

    100 km Nanaimo airport +1 min

    120 km downtown Nanaimo exchange +1 min

    18 min stop time

    90 km/h 115 min nonstop

    Estimated travel time 90 min to 110 min

  3. Haveacow says:

    In the case of the Ontario Line, It’s reason for being is as a “Relief Line” for Line #1 Yonge Street Subway, and a third, possibly a 4th (future western extensions) north-south rapid transit line in and out of downtown Toronto. A light metro line was the affordable answer compared to full scale subway. The new capacity upgrades for the Yonge Subway (communication based train control system) will only give 10 to 15 more years at best, considering its passenger growth rate. The local geography and built environment pretty much made tunneling the only real option for the downtown Toronto section (Queen Street to Exhibition Grounds Corridor) of the Ontario Line. Some of the neighborhood buildings and street layouts are over 200 years old, very little room for surface layouts of LRT lines..

    Even in the past, 1940’s through to the 1970’s Toronto planned to either bury the Queen Street Streetcar line or build a Queen Street subway line. Bloor and Danforth Avenues won out over Queen Street as the main east-west rapid transit line, plus the political desire to save the Queen Street Streetcar Line along with the rest of the streetcar system. When the first section of the Yonge Street Subway was built between 1947-1954 (Eglinton to Union Station), the Queen Street subway station had space put in underneath the platform for an east west underground streetcar station to allow for the placement of an underground line in the future. The TTC used it to store escalator parts mostly. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t wide or deep enough but it’s a help for a new Light Metro station access route from the existing Queen Street subway station.

  4. Haveacow says:

    The high cost of tunneling is why a great proportion of the Ontario Line will be at grade in the main railway corridor with the GO Trains and VIA Rail or above grade. The most northerly section of the line, from Danforth and Pape Station on Line#2 (Bloor-Danforth Subway Line), up to the Ontario Science Center Station on Line #5 (the Crosstown LRT Line) will be built above grade through the Don Valley through to the Flemington Park neighborhood, about 5 km.

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