It’s been a busy two years in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Huntly where one of the biggest projects the area has seen in decades has been underway, removing two level rail crossings Glen Huntly and Neerim roads.
The new Glen Huntly crossings opened in August, achieved by lowering the railway track into a trench, with new road bridges now allowing cars to cross the line unimpeded. An expanded new Glen Huntly station was also built.
Along the busy Frankston railway line, the Level Crossing Removal upgrade project will ultimately remove 18 level crossings and create 12 new stations.
One man who knows all the data, details and designs of the new project is Independent Fastening Systems (IFS) store owner and director, Matthew Corstorphin. IFS is a Melbourne based manufacturer and wholesaler supplier, and Corstorphin’s Broadmeadows store acted as one of the main suppliers to Acciona, the building company working on the Glen Huntley project.
Corstorphin took over the IFS store just over a year ago and estimates the major development was their biggest client in their first year in business; there were some weeks when the project consumed 75 per cent of their time.
“As they are such a big client, and as this project is such an important one to our community … we have done our best to service them,” Corstorphin says.
“Anything you can think of that a building project needs to keep running, we supplied it. Some days it was epoxies and screws and fasteners, other days it was toilet paper, TV screens for engineering planning meetings and mattresses for the sick bay.”
The project is estimated to have involved the excavation of the equivalent of 65 Olympic swimming pools worth of soil, the pouring of more than 30,000 cubic metres of concrete, and the extensive installation of new tracks and signalling.
The old level crossings, consisting of boom gates that would regularly lower across a street to allow the trains to pass through, caused major traffic congestion in the surrounding area. Their removal has improved safety for locals, reduced road congestion and allowed more trains to run along the line.
The new Glen Huntly station with its lowered platforms has also offered better accessibility for passengers, and improved connections between public transport, local shops and community spaces.
In the final weeks before the crossings opened, the project had 500 people working onsite during the day, and another 500 working on night duty.
Due to the complexity of the various stages of the project, it was not uncommon for Corstorphin and the IFS team to deliver materials to the
construction site five times a day.
“When people are working on a big project like this, you need to understand that with so many parts to the job, there are times when they need additional things and need them quickly,” he explains. “We understood there would be unpredictable days, and other days when everything seemed to shift from one end of the project to the other. That was when we would package up another delivery and just get the materials out to site so they could keep going.”
In total, the citywide Level Crossing Removal Project will replace 110 level crossings by 2030. So far, 70 level crossings have been removed and 38 new stations built on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Lilydale lines. The focus is now on the Frankston, Sunbury, Werribee and Frankston lines. The total cost is around $8.3 billion.
On the Glen Huntly project, Corstorphin worked closely with Acciona storeman Eric Murray. Murray says IFS played a vital role in helping keep the construction on track.
“There were many days I would call Matt about the additional things we needed that day, and he would deliver it to the site within hours,” Murray says.
“When you’re on a project like this, knowing that all it takes is a phone call to get the material you need makes all the difference. It comes down to one word—reliability.”
Murray says with the construction team so busy, there was never time for builders to leave the site to source extra materials.
“There were some days when Matt would get 20 phone calls from me for all the extra parts we needed, and he never lost his cool,” Murray says. “He would then have it delivered a couple of hours later, and we just got on with the job.”
There is still work to do on the Glen Huntly project over the coming months, but the Acciona team has already moved down the Frankston line to Parkdale to start work on the next level crossing removal at Parkers Road.
Murray says the relationship between IFS and Acciona has now entered a new phase on this latest project.
“As long as Matt and IFS keeps kicking the big goals with us, he will continue to be our right-hand man on this one as well. He makes my life easy and when you’re on a project like this, you just need people you know you can trust.”