Railway of the Cross planned

25 March 2009

by Pat Ashworth

THE Stations of the Cross will have a literal dimension in Tywyn, Gwynedd, on Good Friday evening, when the Talyllyn Railway will be running a round-trip that takes in all 14 stages of the Lenten devotion.

It is the initiative of Ian Evans, a volunteer fireman on the railway and a reader in York diocese. The free “special” is being run in collaboration with Tywyn Churches Together, and begins in front of the cross bequeathed to the Narrow Gauge Railway Museum on Wharf Station by the Revd Wilbert Awdry, author of the Railway Series stories (Real Life, 2 January).

Prayer and meditation at each Station will be led by the new Bishop of Bangor, the Rt Revd Andrew John, and by Mr Evans.

The museum balcony provides a platform from which Pilate can look down on the crowds, before the passengers get on to the train and travel to the second station, Pendre, and second Station, where Jesus is made to carry his cross. Here, in front of the passengers, will be the hoist for heavy lifting, which will invite comparisons.

The train will then journey to Rhydyronen for the third and fourth Stations, before heading to Brynglas, where the roadside will evoke the incident where Simon of Cyrene is made to carry the cross.

Engines are watered at Dolgoch, recalling the story of the woman who wiped Jesus’s face. The passengers journey on to Aber­gynolwyn, and will arrive at Nant Gwernol. It is a ravine at the end of the line, with no road access, and with a footbridge over a waterfall to symbolise those who fall by the wayside.

The return journey takes in the last four Stations of the Cross. Abergynolwyn famously has the longest narrow-gauge platform in Europe, a symbol for the arms of Jesus stretched out in forgiveness. The picnic area and walkway at Dolgoch Falls, and the memorial garden on the station at Brynglas, will provide evocative settings for the final Stations.

Bishop John will give a blessing before the train returns to Wharf Station. “The buzz of our own service will not be different from the activity of that first Good Friday. I am delighted to be pre­sent,” he said.

The Revd Nigel Adams, Area Dean of Ystumaner, who will be the guard on the train, said: “It will be wonderful.”

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