All aboard the hug train in Halifax — Arié Moyal and his HugTrain campaign are criss-crossing North America for the 7th year in a row. 

Moyal deals in free hugs, which he dishes out wherever he goes.

The expert hugger from Montreal says he's wrapped his arms around thousands of people as part of his HugTrain campaign. 

"I have a pet theory. I think that a hug is a moment of shared vulnerability, right? And we're not really geared outside of that interaction to be vulnerable," he said, while standing at Scotia Square Mall. 

"But when you hug someone you have to be vulnerable, and it's this positive reinforcement you get to actually get a reward for allowing yourself to be vulnerable."

Train keeps rolling

The campaign's mission is to raise awareness about mental wellness, and to inspire people to connect with those around them. 

"Virginia Satir was famous for the quote, 'You need four hugs a day for survival. Eight hugs a day for maintenance and 12 for growth,'" Moyal said, referring to the American author and social worker. 

"And she was talking about within a relationship, but I think it can apply to any relationship really." 

He says he's never become sick even though his hug train is rolling right through the height of cold and flu season, though Moyal says he keeps his fingers crossed just in case.

He will now hug his way west, travelling by train. 

He's got a quick pit stop to hug the people of Moncton, then it's off to Quebec City.

"I pay it forward — or hug it forward," he said.