Canada’s environment minister cancels train tour on climate crisis — due to lack of trains

·2-min read

Canada’s top official for the environment had plans to travel across the country by train, speaking with his fellow Canadians about the climate crisis.

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced the trip at last year’s United Nations summit on climate change, known as Cop26, in Glasgow, Scotland.

But then Mr Guilbeault ran into a problem — there just weren’t enough trains, the National Post reported.

Trains, and public transportation more broadly, are considered a vital part of cutting emissions, getting people out of gas and diesel-powered cars in favor of lower-emission and clean-energy powered travel.

In Canada, intercity passenger rail service is run by VIA Rail, a government-owned company. During the Covid-19 pandemic, train service on some lines became pretty limited, the Post reports.

In fact, the current train service is so sparse that once Mr Guilbeault got off the train in one city, he might have to wait four days for another train to come along, his office told the paper.

The trip had also been cancelled because of a recent Covid wave, the Post adds.

VIA Rail offers service between Vancouver on the country’s Pacific coast and Halifax on the Atlantic — with stops in cities including Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal along the way.

But most train services are concentrated near Canada’s southern border with the US — home to most the country’s population. There is no direct, VIA passenger rail service from the south of Canada to the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island on the East Coast, or to the Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut in the far north.

Minister Guilbeault “is a great supporter of train travel and the continued expansion of passenger rail networks in the country,” his office said, per the Post — adding that he still uses the train.

The Independent has reached to both VIA Rail and Minister Guilbeault’s office for comment.

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