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Thread: CN Conductor Trainee

  1. Default CN Conductor Trainee

    I am looking at getting into a railroad career and was wondering if I can get some information on CN. I applied to there Conductor position in the last round of hiring for Toronto. My application says "Under Review" but I was hoping I could pick some of your brains on the particulars. I searched the net High and Low to get info, but havent found what I am looking for.
    Just wondering what the payscale is like to condcutors at CN? What do you start at for a trainee or brakeman and what is the doys off like? Are you giving at lease 10 days off a month? I don't care where they fall just as long as I get them. I keep hearing your a bitch for the railroad for 30 days straight which cant make sense do to labour laws, etc.. Just want the real info.
    How long typically would you be a brakeman for before getting to a fully qualified conductor position?
    Im not afraid of hard work and have done labour jobs for years. I have worked the past 10 years in the airline business flying around with airplanes. The lifestyle isn't what you think. Always on call as well, but for crappy wages, no pension and pathetic benefits. The pilots in Canada have screwed themselves by whoring themselves out for low wages, so the rest of us suffer by the "new standard".
    Any help would be awesome! Thanks so much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    69

    Default

    I hired out 3 years ago this month with CN in Edmonton. Not sure if they do the same system out east, but here is how it goes nowadays out here:

    1. You start out learning your CROR. 5 weeks in class that include general rules exams as well as signals exams.

    2. Next step is field training. Around 3-4 months of training in the yard with an assigned crew week to week, and road training will be either with a set crew on a road assignment, or you will be called by the crew office for "train x" to "here". If I recall you need 40-something yard tours and 20 road tours. This field training should also include 5-7 days of beltpack training, with a mix of theory and practical.

    3. Qualification. (Once again, not sure about out east, but here all qualification tours are basically a yard shift). A supervisor will pair you up with another trainee once you both have finished your training tours and you will pretty much be on your own during this shift. Its your responsibility to put all the knowledge you gained during your training into effect. The shift might include normal flat switching, servicing industries or doing a transfer. If the person evaluating your crew is satisfied, off you go, to either work the yard or the road. If not, a few more weeks of training.

    When you do qualify, however, you will be Condcutor / Foreman qualified. Meaning, you could be the conductor on a train or the foreman of a yard shift the day you qualify. (Its kind of silly, I know, but they went away with doing the whole "brakeman / switchman for x amount of time before you become a conductor).

    4. The last few months a good portion of the new guys out here have been able to hold yard assignments, but mostly the yard spareboard. The road tends to be more senior guys.

    Not sure if they upped the training rate or not, but 3 years ago it was $160 per day ( 5 out of 7 days). Qualifying shift will be a normal foreman rate (~$240).

    To give you an idea of how much you will make, my first year of qualifying I worked as a switchman in the yard on a night shift (2200-0600) and I made roughly $65,000. Last year I did both yard and road (9 months road, 3 months yard) and made roughly $80,000.

    But know your wondering, do I get any freakin' days off???

    Yes.

    Yard:
    Yard assignments work 5 days a week with set days off. Days off are covered by either set relief assignments or a crew called off the spareboard. If you get stuck on the spareboard, you are on call 24/7. EXCEPT: When on rest (yard employees are entitled 0-14 hours rest), or on an EO (Excused Absence). You need 1075 miles (or 5 yard shifts) to get an EO, where you can take anywhere from 0-48 hours off.

    Road
    Road works in 3 ways. Spareboard, Pool, or assignment. The spareboard you are available 24/7 with the same exceptions as yard, but instead you can take up to 24 hours rest after each trip. EO's are the same, except you accumulate miles faster on the road. A pool is generally a higher seniority thing, meaning you only go east, or you only go west. Assignments, well, your an assigned crew set to an assigned train with an assigned day off.

    There you have it, I think I just about covered the basics.
    Warning: This railroader prefers a GE over an EMD.

  3. Smile

    Awesome info. Do you usually make a lot of overtime? Typically when on the road do you work the full 12 hours as well.

    Much of the info you gave filled in the gaps I was looking for. Especially the pay, which is all very good. The only other thing I was wondering about is transferring to a different yard or terminal. I know I applied for Toronto but really I want to be in Northern Ontario eventually. I don't know what kind of terminals they have North of Sudbury, but typically thats where I want to end up.

    Oh one other thing, how are they Pension and benefits with CN? Thats my big thing! All else sounds very good and am hoping I get a call soon!! The "under review" status for my application hasn't changed in a while.

    Cheers

  4. #4

    Default

    Pension is great, benefits aren't what they used to be.

  5. Default schedules declared early?

    [QUOTE=CNRailCDR;272270]

    Not sure if they upped the training rate or not, but 3 years ago it was $160 per day ( 5 out of 7 days). Qualifying shift will be a normal foreman rate (~$240).

    Yard assignments work 5 days a week with set days off. Days off are covered by either set relief assignments or a crew called off the spareboard.

    I want to know if the spareboard people get schedule beforehand?

  6. Default

    Hello....i just got selected as a Conductor and my training starts on 26th Sep. My question is, after the training, do I must work night shifts on a regular basis?

  7. #7

    Default

    Get used to night shift, you will never see the light of day again!!!!
    Doug

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    69

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hoggerdoug View Post
    Get used to night shift, you will never see the light of day again!!!!
    Doug
    Wow, I completely forgot about this thread. Sorry.

    You know, I was told that when I hired on 4 years ago. The first month or so, that was true. But then after that I worked nights by choice, just because they had the best days off (Fri/sat, Sat/Sun, Sun/Mon).

    If you ever go to the road, yeah, you will be working nights a great portion of the time because that seems to be the time that CN likes to run their trains.

    As far as having a schedule on the spareboard, they have recently been testing out a new "Time Pool" system on the road spareboard here in Edmonton. For example, you are on the 0800-1600 time slot. Meaning, you will have to be available to answer the phone starting at 0600 for 0800, and then the last time they can call you would be 1359 for 1559. Once it hits 1600, you're safe and can do what you want until 0600 the next morning.

    But unless you are on a yard or road assignment, there is no such thing as a schedule.
    Warning: This railroader prefers a GE over an EMD.

  9. Default

    Hi There, I recently had an interview with CN on friday last week where I did my switching test (I was told I passed) then the regular scenario questions (HR lady said I did very well) and that the training would start on Nov/7th in Fort St. John BC. I was asked to call the Occupational Health and safety to book a medical appointment at the end of the interview, which I did on Wednesday(2 days ago) and then I got a call from CN in edmonton to clear out a few questions at the end of which they told me that I had passed all the medical requirements. I already know that I am going to pass my criminal back ground check (worst thing I got on my record is an unpaid city parking ticket, currently under dispute). I was wondering if the training is going to start with in 3 weeks should I not have gotten a call from them by now (if they are hiring me)


    P.S: The HR lady asked me if I needed to give anyone 2 weeks notice ( I do not and thats what i told her) also she said at the end of the interview that I did very well. I know I meet all the requirements for the job, I have done some construction work, customer service, management, and business school.



    Any insight would be helpful, I am really excited for the job and do want it. I specially love all the negatives (like being moved around to different terminals, not having a set schedule, working out doors)


    I do apologize for stealing this thread, I do not know how to start a new one,or send a pm I just joined this website today.

  10. Default Question About CN Hiring process Timeline

    Hi There, I recently had an interview with CN on friday last week where I did my switching test (I was told I passed) then the regular scenario questions (HR lady said I did very well) and that the training would start on Nov/7th in Fort St. John BC. I was asked to call the Occupational Health and safety to book a medical appointment at the end of the interview, which I did on Wednesday(2 days ago) and then I got a call from CN in edmonton to clear out a few questions at the end of which they told me that I had passed all the medical requirements. I already know that I am going to pass my criminal back ground check (worst thing I got on my record is an unpaid city parking ticket, currently under dispute). I was wondering if the training is going to start with in 3 weeks should I not have gotten a call from them by now (if they are hiring me)


    P.S: The HR lady asked me if I needed to give anyone 2 weeks notice ( I do not and thats what i told her) also she said at the end of the interview that I did very well. I know I meet all the requirements for the job, I have done some construction work, customer service, management, and business school.



    Any insight would be helpful, I am really excited for the job and do want it. I specially love all the negatives (like being moved around to different terminals, not having a set schedule, working out doors)


    I do apologize for stealing this thread, I do not know how to start a new one,or send a pm I just joined this website today.

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