The Three Queens

Crowd Movement Consultancy for The Three Queens


The Three Queens is an annual pageant celebrating Cunard’s three luxury cruise liners, the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Elizabeth, and the Queen Victoria. It features the three ships docking together in formation against a spectacular firework backdrop. For the liner’s 175th anniversary celebration in 2015, the Three Queens display took place on the River Mersey in Liverpool, Cunard’s headquarters from 1840 to 1967, instead of its traditional location in Southampton. The visit was part of the International Mersey River Festival, and thousands of people were expected to line the river banks to watch the water ballet and fireworks display. One of the challenges the organisers faced was to estimate the demand for the one-off event and to plan event transport. Movement Strategies was engaged by Merseytravel and their consultant Mott MacDonald to help support demand forecasting for the pageant.





The year before, a street theatre procession (‘The Giants’) took place in an adjacent location. Given the similarity in location and timing between the two events, the analysis for the Giants could inform planning for The Three Queens pageant. The event reportedly attracted crowds of about 20,000 people. Aerial photography of the peak hour for The Giants Procession only provided an estimate of crowd size at that moment in time. By using geo-located and timestamped mobile phone data, we could obtain further information on attendance and travel, specifically where people originated from and travelled to, arrival and departure time, segmented time insights by age, gender and affluence.

We analysed data from the mobile network to identify crowd movements specific to the Giants procession. An hourly breakdown of the volume of trips to Liverpool from the rest of the UK, and vice-versa, for the Giants Procession weekend was provided. We also extracted the volumes of trips on weekends preceding and following the event in order to derive the additional movements that could be associated with the procession. We were able to provide an origin destination matrix detailing origin of all trips and their final destination. This information fed into station demand management plans for the Three Queens event.


Our estimates were corroborated by both aerial photography and hotel accommodation statistics over the weekend. We proved that data from cellular networks provide insights which could be used by Merseytravel to accurately anticipate crowd and arrival profiles for future events. The segmentation data from The Giants informed both marketing campaigns for the event and the routing strategy for The Three Queens, including accessibility for senior citizens and families, and the identification of stations that were likely to experience demand surges.

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