Hundreds of thousands of event-goers saw Cunard’s Three Queens make maritime history and then returned home safely as transport plans stood up to the test.
Unprecedented numbers are understood to have lined the waterfronts in Liverpool, Wirral and Sefton putting significant demand on the transport network.
Across both the Sunday and Monday around 400,000 people are estimated to have travelled in to and around Merseyside on the rail network – both Merseyrail and mainline services – alone.
Merseytravel, bus and rail operators, Network Rail, the local authorities, police and the Highways England worked together over many months to strengthen services on key routes and to ensure people were supported and safe in getting where they wanted to go.
An integrated transport co-ordination centre was set up for the first time during the event so organisations could respond to hotspots together and ensure travel advice and information could be communicated in a joined-up way.
Said Liz Chandler, Merseytravel’s director of corporate development and Chair of the Liverpool City Region Major Events Transport Board said:
“Ensuring hundreds of thousands of people can successfully get to the event and home by road and rail, and do it safely, is no mean feat but the transport community has demonstrated what can be achieved by working together.
“With the sheer volume of people on both sides of the Mersey, queuing was inevitable, and we warned people of that. However, with more and longer trains and extra buses on key routes, coupled with queuing systems and extra staff to keep people safe and moving at stations and dedicated event parking, transport played an essential supporting role in the hosting of this world-class event.
“It was also encouraging to see so many people cycling to and from the event. We were keen that people considered this, and walking, as options in a bid to beat the queues.
“There will always be lessons to learn, as there is with any big event, but the Three Queens has demonstrated that we have the relationships and structures in place to face the region’s next showcase event with confidence.”
Key facts and stats:
Merseyrail: 250,000 people across the Sunday and Monday are estimated to have travelled with Merseyrail. Longer and more frequent train services were provided on both sides of the river, with capacity increased by over 80% over the weekend.
Entertainment was provided at major stations and thousands of flags were given to passengers to welcome the Three Queens.
Commented Alan Chaplin, interim managing director at Merseyrail:
“As a key transport partner we are delighted that we were able to provide a significant contribution to the Three Queens visit. This is another good example of agencies working together effectively to deliver a world-class event for the people of Merseyside.”
Northern: Provided additional and longer trains to and from stations between Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester, with capacity during the event increased by 88 per cent over Sunday and Monday.
Northern also had over 60 additional management and customer service employees at Liverpool and 17 volunteers at six locations across Merseyside, helping customers and handing out 20,000 bottles of water.
Northern also handed out 800 pirate hats and eye patches to young Cunard fans over the weekend.
Alex Hynes, Managing Director for Northern Rail comments:
“An extra special event such as the Three Queens’ visit is a fantastic example of the transport community delivering for our customers in ever challenging circumstances. Our teams worked together and kept customers on the move, well-informed and smiling throughout the entire weekend.”
Arriva: Arriva had more buses out on the network, with double-deckers on key routes to get as many people in and out of the event as quickly and efficiently as possible:
Howard Farrall, area managing director Arriva Merseyside said:
“What a fantastic weekend for Liverpool! The Three Queens event was a great success and the city was exceptionally busy throughout. Sunday evening and Monday in particular saw many people travelling by bus and we would like to thank all our staff for their dedication and hard work under extreme pressure to keep the city moving.”
Stagecoach: Operated additional buses on key routes across the network to get as many people in and out of the event as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Elisabeth Tasker, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire, said:
“The Three Queens lining the River Mersey was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and showcased the incredible city of Liverpool on the world stage. Well done to all involved for making it such a great weekend.“My thanks go to the Stagecoach team for their outstanding dedication and hard work over the bank holiday weekend to keep the city moving. I would also like to thank spectators for choosing to travel to and from the event by bus.”
Liverpool City Council: Said Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Events, Councillor Wendy Simon:
“It was a world-class showcase for the city region with unprecedented numbers of people on the waterfront; all partners came together magnificently to support Liverpool City Council and Cunard in putting on an hugely successful event”
“We’d like to thank motorists for being patient on what was an extremely busy day on the city’s highways, and for also following our advice to use public transport where possible and stagger their journeys.”
Sefton Council: Alan Lunt, Sefton Council’s Director of Built Environment, said:
“We are very pleased that so many people came to visit Sefton over the Bank Holiday weekend. We would like to thank, visitors and local residents for their patience in helping us to ensure that everyone was able to travel safely and enjoy this fantastic spectacle. I would also like to thank the Council staff and our partners who gave up their Bank Holiday weekend in order to ensure that so many people could see this amazing sight safely from the Sefton Coast.”
Highways England: John Hope, Highways England’s events manager for the North West said:
“We lift road works over most bank holidays but worked even harder this weekend to give people smoother journeys around Merseyside. We would like to thank motorway drivers for their support and for their patience on the northern sections of the M53 as drivers headed for park and ride facilities.”
British Transport Police: Superintendent Eddie Wylie, who coordinated the BTP activity at the event, said:
“This was a successful event demonstrating the benefits of working closely together with our partner agencies.
“We received a lot of good feedback over the course of the weekend praising our interaction with the public and the assistance they received from us.
“I would like to thank all those who used the rail network to travel to and from the Three Queens for their patience and good nature, which reflected the spirit of this magnificent event.”
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