The tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will bore parts of Oslo’s new water supply has been named Laila

The TBM was officially named by Oslo’s Vice Mayor for Environment and Transport Marit Kristine Vea (V), in a ceremony held in a mountain hall at Stubberud in Oslo today. The 1350-tonne machine is now assembled and ready to start drilling. Representatives from the City of Oslo, contractor JV AF Ghella, Italy’s ambassador, and guests from suppliers were present at the event.

It is a tradition for tunnel boring machines to be named and that they be given a woman’s name. The choice was between Laila, Wenche, and Shabana. The names were taken from three prominent Oslo women who were pioneers in their fields and left lasting marks: Wenche Foss, Shabana Rehman, and Laila Schou Nilsen.

The City of Oslo and JV AF Ghella invited the public to vote on what the tunnel boring machine should be called. More than 1500 votes were cast, and Laila won by a narrow margin thanks to votes that came in via AF Gruppen’s website.

Laila Schou Nilsen (1919-1998) was one of Norway’s most prominent and versatile athletes of all time. In addition to being a world-class speed skater, she also participated in car racing and won the Norwegian Championships in alpine skiingtennis, and handball. She participated in the Rally Monte Carlo four times and won five unofficial Norwegian Championships in driving skills. Laila Schou Nilsen paved the way for women’s position in sports through her perseverance and was constantly seeking new challenges.

The tunnel boring machine that is now being put into operation on the project New Water Supply to Oslo will bore an 11-kilometer tunnel from Stubberud to Huseby. This will be the main artery for the distribution of reserve water to the entire Oslo. The new facility is scheduled to be ready for use on January 1, 2028.

Together with the tunnel from Holsfjorden to Huseby and the new water treatment plant at Huseby, it constitutes a complete reserve water supply for the capital’s population. Today, Maridalsvannet supplies 90 percent of Oslo’s water. A failure in this system could have serious consequenses. Therefore, the city is working on establishing a full-scale reserve water supply large enough to provide the entire city with access to clean drinking water.