CRL - Community Rail Lancashire

The Team

The Community Rail Lancashire Team

There is normally someone from the CRL team in Accrington most weekdays but if you need to contact any of us then please use either the email addresses or mobile numbers below.

Richard Watts
Chair of CRL & Secretary to the four Lancashire CRPs

Richard started out as a history teacher but was the ‘father’ of many rail user groups in the 1980s & 90s including the Ormskirk & Preston Travellers Association (OPTA & now the Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Association OPTSA), Ribble Valley Rail (RVR), the South Fylde Line Rail Users Association (SFLRUA) and the Lancaster and Skipton Rail Users Group (LASRUG). He was also involved in the creation of many Friends of Stations groups and Station Partnerships well before the rest of the country caught on to this idea. Richard is Chair of Community Rail Lancashire and Secretary of the four Lancashire CRPs. Richard recently retired from his role as Rail Development Team Manager with LCC and during his time with the County he was involved in the creation of three transport interchanges at Burscough Bridge, Carnforth and Clitheroe and also the County’s project manager in the building of Accrington Eco Station, the new Burnley Manchester Road station and the new station build at Buckshaw Village, between Leyland and Chorley.

m: 07487 699341

Simon Clarke
Community Rail Development Officer

Simon, although qualified as a medical microbiologist, worked in the railway industry for over 31 years and brings a wealth of experience to his role as Community Rail Development Officer with Community Rail Lancashire. He started out as summer staff with British Rail in Blackburn booking office in May 1983. Since then he worked in just about every booking office in the area and after a spell in training, moved on to become a Station Manager with responsibility for most of the stations and staff throughout Lancashire. He manages the Community Rail Lancashire websites including DalesRail and is currently winding down to full retirement only working for two days a week.

m: 07449 056772

Caroline Holden
Community Rail Development Officer

Caroline lives on a old dairy farm in the Ribble Valley. Following training in further education, she taught Business Studies, at Myerscough College, where she managed an Equine Course. For 13 years, she developed bespoke training packages for personnel in food manufacturing settings, before joining Lancashire County Council in 2008. Her work with LCC included promoting all forms of safe and active travel – walking, cycling and public transport; work she will continue in her new role with CRL! Caroline is not unfamiliar to the work of CRL, as in early 2009, she supported the production of a series of Cycling into Railway History leaflets, highlighting disused railways in East Lancashire and more recently, the work at Ramsgreave and Wilpshire to brighten the station for users. In her spare time, Caroline likes to walk and cook (not at the same time!).

m: 07973 312844

Karen Bennett
Community Rail Education Development Officer

Karen started her career in the entertainments industry spending a season in Bognor Regis as a Redcoat before moving to Menorca as an entertainments representative. She studied Primary Education for four years at Bradford College before graduating in 2008. For the past ten years, she has taught across the primary phase in Bradford and has held the responsibility of being a subject leader for English, mathematics and music. In addition, she has published education resources which are used in schools nationwide. Karen joins Community Rail Lancashire with great enthusiasm and looks forward to developing exciting education programmes focussing on the eastern side of the network.

m: 07365 138233

Katie Douglas
Accessibility & Inclusion Officer

Katie’s background is in art and education; both of which she is genuinely passionate about! In 2015, having taught for a number of years at secondary and college level, she decided to leave the teaching profession in order to work as an independent artist and educator. Katie has extensive experience of supporting a wide range of people of all ages to become more confident and creative and joins Community Rail Lancashire to help develop the organisation’s work with our more ‘vulnerable’ groups.

m: 07490 771857

Shahiesta Raja
Community Rail Education Development Officer

Shahiesta began her teaching career in 1998 and has worked as a teacher of Religious Studies and Citizenship in secondary schools in Blackburn for twenty years. She has been the co-ordinator for Religious Education, Citizenship and PSHE and is genuinely passionate about preparing young people for the world outside school. She has an interest in community projects and works voluntarily with Maundy Relief, Lancashire Volunteer Partnership and various community mosque groups. She is excited to join Community Rail Lancashire and is looking forward to working with the various partnerships to develop some exciting educational projects.

m: 07366 799979

David Savage
Community Rail Officer

David started his career in education working at an outdoor education centre in the USA for a year and then at a centre in Mid-Wales after completing his
degree in Environmental Science at Aberystwyth University. He has also worked as a teaching assistant in a pupil referral unit in Formby and spent some time working in a children’s home. Dave completed a PGCE in Geography, graduating in 2007. For the past 15 years he was the Head of Geography at a high school in Ramsbottom. During this time he organised a wide range of trips and supported with DofE at the school. Dave has joined Community Rail Lancashire initially to lead the Avanti Feel Good Field Trip project. He is looking forward to planning and delivering field trips along the West Coast Main Line.

m: 07393 954035

Catherine Kingdom
Community Rail Education Development Officer

Catherine joined Community Rail Lancashire in January 2023 after over 20 years teaching in primary school and SEND settings. She is working on different education projects as well as the Try the Train initiative which launched this year. She is looking forward to building people’s confidence to use the trains and giving them new experiences. Catherine has a lot of experience of taking children out on trips both through her professional roles and her role as a Brownie leader. In her spare time, when she is not taking her children to their many exciting out of school activities, she likes to go walking and supports Huddersfield Town FC.

m: 07576 889919

Postal address for CRL:

Community Rail Lancashire Ltd.
Accrington Station
Eagle Street