Trudeau Minister postpones climate change promise to travel across Canada by train

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault won’t fulfill his promise to travel across Canada by train to talk about emissions due to a lack of train routes.

Guilbeault announced in November he would use Via Rail trains to travel across Canada to advocate for climate action.

“I look forward to travelling across the country early in the new year, by train, to meet and discuss the best ways to implement the agenda Canadians set for us, with Canadians in all parts of the country,” Guilbeault said at COP 26 in Scotland.

His ambitious plan faced challenges from the start. Five of Canada’s provincial capitals are not served by Via Rail passenger service, reports the National Post. Via Rail also reduced trips due to a lack of demand during the pandemic.

Guilbeault’s director of communication Oliver Anderson told the Post the lack of Via Rail service made them unable “to bring together something that would be billed as a cross-country tour just because it was not logistically feasible.”

“Due to VIA Rail’s continued reduced capacity on their rail lines due to COVID as well as train car maintenance, logistically, it was not feasible to conduct a meaningful tour this year in all parts of the country,” the office said in a Tuesday email.

Via Rail said in January that train departures would see a dramatic reduction in train lines that connect the Quebec City- Windsor corridor due to reduced travel caused by the “rapid spreading of the Omicron Variant.” Train departures from Toronto to Vancouver were also reduced and now only depart twice a week.

This means the minister would have to wait up to four days at some stops, Guilbeault’s office said.

“Nonetheless, the Minister is conducting broad outreach this year across Canada and continues to use the train often. He is a great supporter of train travel and the continued expansion of passenger rail networks in the country,” his office said.

Guilbeault’s office says the plan is “on ice” as the minister would like fulfill his promise eventually.

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