Green party train leaves Vancouver for cross-country tour

Green party leader Elizabeth May left Vancouver on Sunday afternoon on an old-time whistle-stop train tour across the country.

Leader Elizabeth May whistle-stopping across Canada

Green party Leader Elizabeth May left Vancouver on Sunday afternoon on an old-time whistle-stop train tour across the country.

Using a train car rented from Via Rail, May and her entourage toasted their departure at about 5:30 p.m. PT with champagne.

She is splitting the trip into two parts, first holding platform rallies in selected centres from Vancouver to Toronto, which she'll reach on Wednesday. She will also stop on request at other points along the line.

Then the train will leave Toronto on Sept. 25, heading for Halifax on Sept. 27.

The Green leader said she is using the train because it's environmentally cleaner. "We are prepared to walk the walk," she said on the party website.

Using the train highlights the importance of rail infrastructure, she said. "Canada urgently needs an overhaul of our passenger and freight rail systems."

May has also told reporters that riding the train is less frenetic than air travel and lets her see the scenery.

Other observers have pointed out it can be cheaper than flying, too.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion took Sunday off.

New Democrat Party Leader Jack Layton campaigned in Gatineau, Que., and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe participated in an AIDS walk in Montreal.