Is CN still an awful company to work for?

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  • Apr 27th, 2017 12:07 am
Apr 19, 2017
1 posts

Is CN still an awful company to work for?

I recently applied to work for CN as a Signals and Communications Apprentice and after all of the googling I just hear terrible things about the company. ALMOST all of the Indeed reviews are extremely negative. Does anyone currently work for CN and can give insight? I've worked 14 hour days in extreme weathers so that kind of stuff I'm no stranger to. But the other things I'm not too sure about. I always thought becoming a train conductor would be an awesome career, so maybe if I get this gig I can eventually become one.

6 replies
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jul 17, 2008
6610 posts
Don't you need to be an engineer to be a train conductor? Driving a train is the easiest job in the world with only back and forth controls. But I think you are suppose to deal with any breakdown, maintenance, etc. And aren't they always away from home crossing Canada at 30km/h? I alwasy wondered where they sleep. Do they get hotel rooms paid for or they have a sleeper in the loud loco?
User avatar
Mar 12, 2006
452 posts
Ive got a buddy in it. Pretty much assigned a territory and you are always on call. During fall/winters/rain season, things can be bad with lots of slides.

Up to you really, pay is decent but really you are tied to the phone. And honestly only a handful of days off.

A buddy worked at CP, hated it (because of the on-call life) - He knew about it coming in, but lets be honest, most people just want a career/job. If you need money and a career, go for it. Worst case you don't like it and you leave. Some people love it, some hate it. If you want that lifestyle for your family, go for it. Keep in mind, if you're low in seniority and it's slow season, you might be laid off. (recalled when things pick up)

If you're young and got time to kill, I'd go for it. Worst case you come out with some skills for a different career and a sense of appreciation for the people who work in railways.

Best case, you have a solid career ahead of you.
Apr 7, 2007
225 posts
Not a railroader, but deal with them at work. Also have quite a few friends who work for CN. I'm not sure you could pay me enough money to be a conductor. The job is essentially best suited for single people with zero interests or hobbies. You really can't plan to do much of anything in advance (holidays aside) because the schedule is so erratic. Buddy checked the lineup yesterday and figured he wouldn't be called out for close to 24 hours so we went fishing, got home in the early evening and he was bumped up to shortly after midnight. Might have been lucky to get 4 hours sleep.

The maintenance side of the industry generally has a better work/life balance than running crews, I'd consider that apprenticeship long before being a conductor.

Messerschmitt: Yes, their hotel rooms are paid. Conductors don't maintain the locomotives. No you don't have to be an engineer to be a conductor. Easiest job in the world? LOL!
Apr 5, 2017
11 posts
I work indirectly for them.

I hate how some of their engines are so poorly maintained they bellow blue/white smoke for DAYS, and I have to breathe that crap in. One I'm sure has (or had, before it blew up today causing a few hours down time) an insane boost leak or problem with generator (I imagine a bunch of giant alternators) but whatever, pretty sweet: diesel electric 4000hp 10k+ lb-ft torque barreling down the rails like war machines, multiply that by 2-4 depending how many engines are strung together.

Driving trains back and forth may be easy (on paper) or the long hauls (which I see them cruising along at well over 50km/h probably going 80km/h), but when it comes to the low speed sorting, moving, organizing etc. I'd imagine it's a bit stressful trying not to bang rail cars together too hard.

Schedule is erratic for me, have to be on their schedule. Which is understandable given the nature of the work e.g. railroad never rests, always going, economy, oil, resources, blah, blah.

Turn-around seems to be high, and the management or "higher ups" at the tower where I am seems to run around like a chicken with its head cut off. One time I came into work and someone on the outside intercom was singing/making weird noises...can be quite a strong gong show lmao, maybe it was a guys last day so decided to screw around.
Apr 25, 2017
4 posts
Depends on your lifestyle and what's important to you. If you like consistency or have family obligations may not be the best option for you.

Shifts can be unpredictable in certain roles (I.E conductor) as you work off a shift board not a schedule. As someone already said you can try and "read" the shift board to get an estimate of when you will wrk next but its no garuntee. Also with limited predictably and strict rules about alcohol (for good reason) if you enjoy wobbly pops on your down time you could put your job in jeopardy.

On the plus side with overtime it's pretty easy to hit 80-90k+ which is incredible for a job that does not require post secondary education.
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