CN is a great place to work for a few reasons and a challenging one in others. The pay and benefits are fantastic! Unfortunately the work-life balance is not and if you have a young family this probably isn't ideal for you.
Good pay & benefits, but its not all sunshine and rainbows...
Conductor (Current Employee) – Melville, SK – 11 June 2017
CN has a great extensive training program for new conductors. They fly you to Winnipeg if you hire in Canada, and you're there 7 weeks. They pay for flights, hotel the whole time, and all meals, plus pay you a weekly salary for attending class 5 days a week. During those 7 weeks though, they make CN sound like the best company to work for ever.
Sure, you read online and hear about the on call 24/7/365 thing, and for the most part, with exceptions, that's true. It wouldn't be a huge issue for single guys like me, or even family men, if their train lineups were accurate ever... you'll show going out at 6am so you decide to go to bed at 10pm to be tested. Suddenly your phone rings to go work for 12 hours on a train at 11pm. If you say no, you're hauled in for an investigation and discipline.
If management would update the lineups and not hide random trains on lineups, we would have a better idea when we're going to work.
You do make good money. Will you make over $100,000 a year as a conductor? Not at the beginning, unless you go to a few select terminals like McLennan or Roma Junction where they're always short guys and pay a very good salary to entice people up there. But for other terminals, you could make 75% of that, but after a few years, you definitely could make 6 figures.
It's definitely not your average job and it is what you make of it. But I'm posting this at 4am, because I'm awake waiting for my next call to take a train. That should tell you what to expect from this career.....
Railway Car Technician Apprentice (Current Employee) – Toronto, ON – 10 June 2017
I would love the job if they could accommodate to the employes more. I have been on nights with Tuesday Wednesday off for 3 years and and scheduled to be so for the next 20 plus years. Untill I am able to bid a regualr shift. With a young family at home this schedule dose not work for us. I have never spent a Christmas day with my son due to working over time pulling doubles and filling in shifts for the higher sonority employees. I am ready for a change for the better to improve my career choices and see my family .
Assistant Track Supervisor (Current Employee) – Edmonton, AB – 24 May 2017
Working in management, the company expects their pound of flesh. Their are exceptionally long hours with minimal guidance but high expectations. There is always pressure. I mostly enjoyed my job, it can be unrelenting at times but the job satisfaction is good, when you are given the tie and resources to complete it.
Surveyor (Former Employee) – Saskatoon, SK – 5 May 2017
Arrived at work- went into the office to find out if I had to go out of town complete miscellaneous work, Plan day around travel. Hardest part was planning work around weather. Best part of the job was working with people day in and day out.
Heavy Equipment Mechanic (Current Employee) – Kamloops BC – 26 April 2017
Great group of people to work with at the grunt level. Management is always pushing you to circumvent safety and Transport Canada regulations. Of course YOU take the fall for it. No regard for CVSA regulations. You are expected to lie about and fudge your CVSA log books. Advancement to management is all about nepotism and who's boots you lick. 90 percent of managers are inept and horribly unqualified to make any sort of decision and consequently make a mess of everything. It's a miracle this industry even survives with the way things are run. It's a dinosaur culture.
Benefits, Pension, working outdoors
Lack of safety, Management has ZERO integrity and no regard for life.
Signal Maintainer (Former Employee) – Winnipeg, MB – 21 April 2017
this was a good place to work and I enjoyed it very much . The job was seasonal and I had to move on to support my family.There was a lot of out of town work which makes it hard on the family . I would recommend this job to a young person who is starting out and is still single
A mechanic (Current Employee) – Edmonton, AB – 20 April 2017
Horrible place. you will be required to travel on your own time. to get to your work location. No coveralls micro managed. a track maintainer will make more annually then a mechanic. Getting the little things like gloves can be difficult. Not a good fit for a married family man as you will never be home. will be home maybe 8 days a month. they preach safety unless it costs money. There are many places to work skip this one
Lies and getting tools for the job or even doing your job
Locamotive Engineer (Former Employee) – Belleville, ON – 11 April 2017
Very hard life style The pay is good and beniffits need to be greatly improved, cn rails attendence management system is something else. You are oncall 24/7 with very little to no notice of working. You will be driving into work already fatigued and you will have to work the next 8 to 12 hours oneway also gone from home typicaly 28 hours " 50 hours was my maximum tour of duty. Missed calls, sick days or unfit for duty is frownd upon by cn rail and resualts in discipline
Conductor (Current Employee) – Prince George, BC – 29 March 2017
Management doesn't know how to treat employees with respect. No work life balance. The work itself is enjoyable. I have learned a lot working here but the environment is toxic. If you are an outdoors person you will truly enjoy the work.
Team dynamic and chemistry really is what made a difference during long days of tedious labor but is also what pushed me to thrive in this domain; not to mention being given the knowledge that really enriched my horizons. The managers' dedication to the employees in the 'workshop' was what really helped keep a close-knit unit, making sure everyone feels safe and happy.
work equipment supervisor (Former Employee) – Ontario – 15 March 2017
The pay is very good, but you are away from home most of the time. The engineering department is especially bad for taking people away from home. The union employees have usually 5 or less days off during the summer work season. Management is required much more than that, to the point if you do not work 60+ hours a week you are shunned as lazy.
Railcar Mechanic (Current Employee) – Toronto, ON – 6 March 2017
Mechanical department: Very, very poor management. Supervisors hired without experience and taught to lie and cut corners to get the job done fast due to a "productivity bonus" for supervisors only and a lack of any "safety bonus". The employees doing the work get no type of bonus. Told we would get help transferring across Canada But was denied when my family tried. Very few people with high enough seniority to get weekends off. I have been there 5 years and I can only do 12am-8am with Tuesday Wednesday off and still nowhere close to a weekend or even a day shift. It's Shift work with no understanding from supervisors. Don't expect to be able to go to your kids hockey games or birthdays because they don't allow it . No sick days and harassment and investigations leading to demerits when a sick day is needed. Employees are expected to buy all their own work clothes and safety equipment. All around very poor lifestyle when you work at CN (railcar mechanic). If you like having and or seeing you're family or friends, or having hobbies / enjoy sports or activities then CN is NOT the job for you. The pay is good and two weeks vacation is OK but not worth being treated like dirt every day for.