CN Rail has hired 1,200 people to be train conductors and after spending about $85,000 training them, the company hopes most decide to stick with it.
But it’s not easy attracting and keeping conductors, despite a starting wage of $85,000 a year and a defined benefit pension, says Sean Finn, CN Rail’s executive vice-president of corporate services and chief legal officer.
“It’s very well paid… but the challenge is that it’s a way of life, which is very different than what they (young workers) are used to,” Finn said during an interview in Winnipeg July 3.
“It might be a couple of years before they get a Friday night off. It’s not just being on call, it’s the working conditions.”
Railroading is a 24-7, 365-day-a-year business.
New conductors with less seniority have less flexibility with their schedules. And while the work is interesting, it’s challenging and demanding.
“If you’re working your hours you can easily make $85,000 a year,” Finn said.
“It’s not a bad job for someone with a high school diploma or not even.”
It’s also a great opportunity for people already living in small Prairie towns or who want to return to them. People already located in such places want to be there and don’t see it as hardship.
It takes eight months of classroom training, plus another eight months on on-the-job training to become a conductor, Finn said. Recruits are paid as they are trained.
“That’s a big investment for us. We need to make sure we keep them more than a year.”
Those interested in the job can apply online at www.cn.ca.