The work in the running trades is very enjoyable but you'll need to build seniority to get the good shifts.
You'll work outside during good and bad weather in a yard or on the road. Typically if you're doing yard work you'll receive less pay but have a monday-friday 40 hour a week schedule. Junior employees will have a tuesday-saturday shift that starts at 10pm which isn't to be discounted, you'll spend 5-10 years (depending on location) working the bad shifts. Road work pays more but doesn't really have a set schedule at all, be prepared to work at 5am one morning then 9pm the next night, you will be on call 24/7 it can grind you down if you don't truly commit to the railway as a lifestyle instead of just a job. This doesn't sound hard on paper but just imagine never having a schedule and you must show up to work when the phone rings or you will face discipline leading up to your termination. The railways stance is that this isn't a problem because employees are able to "book unfit", which means you're simply too tired to work and they take you off the working board for 8 hours. Let me run you through how this actually plays out:
Your phone rings randomly (Which happens almost half of the shifts you work) and you've been up all day. When you attempt to book "unfit" the railway will bring you in for a formal discipline hearing and it will imply that you've done something wrong. So despite giving you as an employee no notice (something that is completely out of your control
Very poor lower level managers make the job much harder than it needs to be
The company is very open as to the poor work/life balance when you sign. They fail to mention how easily people can get fired as it isn’t that important considering the union will get your job back 9 times out of 10, everyone has a horror story that makes you ask “how exactly do you still have a job here?” Lower level managers (Trainmasters) are often times extremely under qualified for their jobs and have either no experience on the railway or have been fired as a conductor from either CN or CP and sometimes both, it’s this inexperience that leads to headaches and arguments between union members (conductors and L.E.s) and management. Frankly the managers I dealt with when I worked at McDonalds in my early teens were better. I decided I didn’t want to deal with the politics of management vs union and left the industry before it was too late, you know it’s bad when you approach a union member (yardmaster) and they have to say “woah woah woah, I’m a union member too here, not management” multiple times during a conversation as you really can’t trust the managers here. Benefits are nothing to write home about and the wage is good when you’re working, when you first qualify in a busy terminal you’ll be placed on a retention board with a decent guarantee however you’ll only be working once or twice a week potentially which albeit is nice as you’re making ok money while not working much however it isn’t anywhere near the large figures they mention in the interview process. Also I h
ProsPlaying with trains is pretty cool, days go by fairly quick, good pay if you’re working lots and paid training, stock option and pension are great, little to no schooling required to succeed (however STUDY THE RULES HARD AND YOU’LL SUCCEED!!)
ConsExtremely poor lower level management, complete lack of help from any sort of management and even some conductors or L.Es, benefits are nothing spectacular, union v management fight all day everyday
Solid and evolving company with room for improvements.
As of May 2022, I work in the IT department so my feedback will be based mostly on how we live our day-to-day in the HQ.
From what I've seen elsewhere, salaries at CN are higher (not necessarily true in all cases) than what's offered in the market especially if you compare with some banking institutions even in Toronto. But this does not stop employees from leaving the company. Not sure about this, but I believe most of the internal IT units allow employees to WFH at their convenience (100%) which is good -- it will be up to you--, but it will also depend on the project. In Montreal, the business language is English, in most cases, keep in mind that we need to communicate with business users all over Canada and the States.
During the past six years or so, we've been experiencing massive cuts, putting a burden on our lives -- at the end of the day you look around, check who's still around and keep doing your stuff!!
Ironically, these cuts have come accompanied by massive management promotions on a couple of occasions!!
For some strange reason to me and given the size of the company, there are no inter-department sports tournaments as you can find in other big companies. Sporadically we have some special activities but that's all. There is a cool Gym in the main HQ building.
As for me, I've learned a lot here. I've met nice people (and not so nice too). I really like working here (in general), because that will depend on the team you are in. One advantage I see is that e
ProsSalary, social benefits, interesting but demanding IT projects.
ConsConstant company re-orgs, constant layoffs, no coaching at all from management..
A Proud Canadian Institution ruined by current leadership
This WAS a great company but today's culture includes a completely stripped-down organization with constant outsourcing, unclear objectives, and lots and LOTS of red tape. It's best to work for an organization who will value your hardwork and foster a performance plan for you. Compensation is no longer industry standard.
Employees have been very vocal to HR and current leadership advising of inefficiencies, changing marketplace trends, and better services we want to offer our customers. They were taken with a grain of salt and YES leaders decided to go in another direction with impractical objectives and deadlines fostering a very stressful and hostile work environment.
Employees have a lot of pride in this company - it truly is great working for the railroad and see something considered as the backbone of Canada - that's probably what's enjoyable; seeing the great men and women in all aspects of the railroad keep it moving. But management is really turning it into an absolute nightmare. Constant re-orgs (layoffs) occur and attrition is high as people have just grown frustrated. There's almost no progression for your career.
Leadership has been reluctant to act, instead using HR and Public Affairs to direct employees to fill out the Employee Satisfaction surveys to voice our concerns with no action. You can clearly see from the responses to these reviews; the templated answers demonstrates the company's lack of understanding, care, and action - THIS WILL BE YOUR FUTURE if
Ok for a Single person, but not great for a family man
Working at CN, you will have better than average pay, with reasonably good benefits.
Due to the nature of the railroad industry, you will be away from home more than you are at home. You could be away from home for more than a week at a time. You may have to stay in work camps or bunk houses that are in the middle of nowhere in very remote locations. This job is one which brings with it many adventures. It's not a real good job for anyone who is married or has kids, because you will not be seeing them very much.
The Management have the shareholders to answer to, they do a pretty good job with keeping the numbers looking good on paper. Unfortunately it doesn't always bode well for the lower ranking employees. There is a "Big Brother"management style that, in my opinion, hurts the company productivity rather than helps.
Middle management is frequently disorganized and unable to plan ahead whatsoever. There are too many levels of management that have conflicting interests and ideas as to what needs to be done. This area needs large improvements.
I don't think CN is necessarily a bad company to work for. They pay well, and you get to see the country. Just be aware that this will be your whole life due to the nature of railroading; there will not be any time left over for your family or friends. It's really not gonna work for most people, it takes a certain kind of individual to work here.
Cons-Work life balance -"Big Brother" Management style -Often disorganized, siloed management style needs improvement -Safety, railroads can be dangerous
Good pay & benefits, but its not all sunshine and rainbows...
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 e
Ask any employee here, its any wonder this company makes money. Management has no idea what they're doing, are frequently way under trained, misinformed, and pressured to discipline employees excessively. It comes to the point where we come into work and wonder if we are going to get fired today. They always have some excuse, or reason to write you up, remove you from service, or assign demerits, or provide a failure on what they called random safety testing. Safety culture looks great on paper, means absolutely nothing in reality. The rules are written to cover the companies butts, and discipline employees and not actually keep anyone safe for the most part. The company and its constant monitoring, baby sitting and supervision of its employees makes you feel like your 12. They spend so much time making sure your actually working and following policy and rules to the exact letter you no longer actually focus on your job rather to make sure you aren't breaking any rules. Management also makes these amazing decisions on having the newer or less-experienced employees train the brand new employees instead of having the season and experienced employees do so. This is part of staff shortages and refusule to assign extra OJT (on the job trainers) to assist training. Other then that, the pay is awesome, benefits vary by union, the places to go, things to do are awesome! You spent your first months in a training facility either in Homewood IL or Winnipeg MB to learn.
If you've always dreamed of getting paid to hate your life - CN Rail!
(To be clear from the outset, there are definitely good people working at CN Rail. Unfortunately, almost none of them are in management.)
CN brings an exciting 19th-century mindset to the 21st-century job market!
As a working-class employee you will serve as an entirely disposable cog in the corporate machine as it railroads its way through pristine water sources and across the pockmarked Canadian landscape.
Any and every small mistake you make will be treated with the utmost attention, guaranteeing plenty of quality time with every supervisor within discernible cell range.
Don't sweat it though, because no matter how badly anyone screws up the share prices will just keep climbing, leaving no substantial reason for anything to ever change in the way things are done on Canada's National Railroad.
Innovation! Every month brings a new way for management to track exactly where you have been and what you have done.
Dedication! Once you buy that lifted truck you've been eyeing up you're basically locked in for life.
Self-Preservation! Hint: it helps if you're jaded before you even start.
Looking for a career that is sure to leave an irremovable mark on your soul? Then look no further than CN Rail!
ProsDecent pay, no skills/ knowledge required to advance through into management
With CN Rail it has been a great place to work this far. The environment has been a little bit on the Toxic side due to backlash with some of the management changes and changes to how CN is running things inside of the shop. Management is trying to change the culture in the shop to work steady and produce quality work safely while giving full respect to each other. Some people are immune to thinking anything that involves the word "change". Other than the environment right now it is a good career path. You get your schedule so you can plan for your days off, you get 2 weeks vacation per year to start, you get great benefits, stock options and paid training in Winnipeg's CN Campus. Management doesn't push you to get things done very fast as they prefer having quality and reliability with their services then getting a Locomotive out of the shop and having it break down 5 miles down the track. Sure at first you have to deal with Seniority and working nights for approximately 5 years but after that it's gold! You will have work stability as long as you strive to get better at your job and work by the book safely. Lastly you get to be home with your family every day and nothing beats that when you've worked out of town for ages!
ProsBenefits, Stock Options, Pension, Stability, Home with Family
I'll give you the honest scoop. Railroading is a tough lifestyle. Whether you're working in the yard or on the road. Unless you have enough seniority to hold a yard shift with scheduled days off. Otherwise once your booked rest is over (you can book up to 24 hours rest after a shift) you have to be prepared to answer your phone at any time. And there is an inherent risk of serious injury or death when you're working with equipment as massive as a train. That's why the pay and benefits are so good. And it's not grunt work. Training involves hitting the books. You need 100% on your signals final. And there's 119 signals to learn. You then need 90% on your rules exam. And some of the rules are a little mind bending. That being said, I don't want to discourage anyone. You'll receive excellent paid training. The instructors are great. And like any job you'll have good days and bad days. And you'll work with some good people and some bad people. As for the culture, CN is 👍. So far they've treated me welI. I previously worked for CP and the management-employee relationship was very adversarial. Morale was rock bottom there. I'm much happier at CN. I'm not a CN cheerleader, I'm just telling it like it is.
No training just figure it out. Hired over 1,000 consultants (US/India) for knowledge/expertise and workforce. Employees ended up training them anyway.
Nepotism at it's finest here. No work/life bal. 24/7 on call. Still into the in-person workforce. Working from home allowed only when they need you and even then may request you come into the office (Montreal or States). Bare minimum employees in the States yet core controlled in Canada the HQ.
Employees train their managers. "Fake it till you make it" commonly used proudly by management. Many come from the field/craft, lack professionalism, formal education, and knowledge of the law not to violate employee rights. Invest in new systems yet not in the development of employees for the system(s). Rely heavily on each one teach one yet managers know that elimnates job security so you will get limited info. CEO and Executive team disconnected from employees leaving middle management (VP, Sr., & Directors) too much power and control.
If it's not in writing don't trust it. If it is in writing they may find a way out of it even if it's walking on your rights. The legal system can get them to play ball fairly and they count on many not going that route. Yet better to deal with on one on one basis and hush them than the masses. Be careful of their internal HR investigations - it's also to discover any liabilities. If union - get to know non-union counterpart(s) and vice-versa.
Hours of Service (HoS) used to avoid
ProsBenefits - yet Vet and govt employee benefits are better.
ConsManagement, Pay, Hours, Workload, Travel, Lack of Training, the "pro-cess"
IT Pays well, but it's mostly downhill from there.
CN is mostly a decent place to work. In IT, salaries and benefits are good and work schedules are mildly to moderately flexible. The culture, however, isn't for the faint of heart. In the US, there is almost no room for advancement. Every year comes with a "less than the" cost of living raise and even the slightest little hiccup causes the upper class to declare no bonuses for the peons. Individuals who are passionate and knowledgeable are discouraged and rarely given the resources they need to improve themselves or the company.
Small decisions are bogged down with red tape and the inclusion of individuals who don't understand the details. Large decisions are made in upper management by people who don't know what's needed on the ground. Over and over you'll hear "upper management has approved this process". Any criticism of these decisions, or bringing light to their deficiencies, is considered "making noise" and is quickly squashed.
Don't anticipate being formally trained, or even cross trained between groups. Silos are ever present and exceptionally strong. The company pats itself on the back that they're "One Team", but that's just a way of shutting employees up when someone complains that another team isn't pulling their weight or is screwing things up.
When you leave the company, they magically change the vacation policy. Suddenly, even though the vacation policy is based on years of service with no accrual, they will pro-rate your vacation when you leave. If you have
Great Pay, Management need more training, Systems are very out dated
1.Joining a Union was a waste of money because its no good to you while you are on probabtion.
2. I was trained at( 2) different sites- 1st site was awesome the trainers thete was very helpful and very informative about the railroad life etc.
The second site I was trained at was horrible, i was trained by (4) different employees and out if (1) of those employees well she was so helpful and had patience. She really was a great person who allowed you to take notes and ask questions.
Those other (3)individuals i hope are retired or was forced to another desk. Those ignorant individuals were extremely childish, racist, and definitely wanted to see a person fail for no reason. It was so bad that i put in a bid for a new position which by the way i was rewarded but was not able to go right into like a new hire was able to. (Which by the way that new hire hide a specific bid so she can get off the same desk as i was on due to how she saw i was being trained) But i was hired a month before her but she won that bid immediately.
Anyhow a day before my probation ended i was evaluated by Sequia out the blue and waited till about an hour to my shift was over to have me come to her office for my evaluation and was fired. She listen to those 3 horrible people who had bipolar issues etc.
Remember what goes around comes around God dont like ugly .
ProsGreat pay, don't trust everyone, you will figure out who's real or not
ConsHave a backup job or career just in case your let go off for no reason, save your money while you are working in the railroad, it's a Cutthroat company
Questions and answers about Canadian National Railway
Why would you want to work at Canadian National Railway?
Asked May 5, 2017
Ilove the Canadian Locomotives since they are powerful.Also Canada is a country which accomodates people with diverse cultures and Races.
Answered Oct 17, 2019
Yes but live in adefferent nationaliy
Answered Aug 25, 2019
What is the interview process like at Canadian National Railway?
Asked Mar 29, 2017
If you don’t know anyone in the company, you won’t get hired. No matter what your credentials or work ethics are.
Answered Oct 17, 2019
Call bunch of people for interview only 1 or 2 people get selected from the groups then a long police clearance and drug test, after that they send you to Winnipeg for 3 weeks training, if you fail the test they have on the end of the 2nd week you get a plan to ticket home. If you are looking to work at CN UNTIL YOU GO BACK HOME IN THE 3RD WEEK DO NOT QUIT WHERE YOU ARE WORKING. they dont tell you that in the interview process.....
Answered Jan 8, 2019
Do you need to be a Canadian citizen to work for cn
Asked Aug 14, 2018
Peut-on être d'une nationalité autre que canadienne et travailler pour le CN dans une domaine spécialisé nécessitant une formation et une habitation après formation ??
Answered Dec 4, 2021
No, you do not!!! Got hired and I'm a pr.
Answered Nov 3, 2020
What questions did they ask during your interview at Canadian National Railway?
Asked Nov 13, 2017
No questions for my interview. room of 20 people they talk about the company. then they have you take a switching test on the spot with no training or explanation. about half the class failed. if you pass then come all the drug test, physicals criminal record check etc. then off to Winnipeg if you pass all that for 7 weeks of tests.
Answered Dec 15, 2020
"Describe a situation in which you were met with a difficult problem, and how did you solve it?"
Answered Oct 17, 2019
What is the company culture at Canadian National Railway?
Asked Aug 20, 2018
Answered Jul 5, 2022
Some nice, educated, friendly people (who are about to retire).
Lots of inexperienced, difficult, self-serving, or unfriendly workers.
Little time and support for training.