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How to Become a Train Conductor for CN

Cliff is an ex-CN conductor/locomotive engineer for CN in Winnipeg, MB Canada. He also worked for a short-line railroad in Nashville.

Learn the ins and outs of becoming a train conductor for CN.

Learn the ins and outs of becoming a train conductor for CN.

So you want to be a railroad conductor? Becoming a train conductor for the railroad, no matter which one, does have some requirements. Some of the requirements you have complete control over, and some you may not.

If you are 100% sure you want to work for the railroad as a conductor, this article will lay out most of the requirements to become a train conductor.


How Do I Become a Train Conductor?

  1. Go to the recruiting website
  2. Apply for the conductor position with the railroad of your choice
  3. Upload your resume
  4. Wait
  5. Wait some more
  6. Wait a little bit longer
  7. Get a reply for a job fair/interview session
  8. Take a switch test
  9. If you pass, get an interview date
  10. Go to your interview (remember: safety!)
  11. Pass the interview, get a background check done
  12. Get your medical done
  13. Wait some more
  14. Are you still waiting? Good!
  15. If you are selected, you will be notified and given a date to report for training! Congratulations!!!
  16. Pack up all your stuff (could be one week to three months' notice)
  17. Get your butt to training and study your rules and signals!
  18. Pass the tests
  19. Do yard training, belt pack training, and road training
  20. You are now a qualified conductor

So as you probably noticed, I said "wait" a lot. There is a reason for this. Railroads are notoriously slow in the hiring process. Also, if you don't pass your background check and/or medical, you probably will not get hired.

What Does Becoming a Train Conductor Entail?

First of all, many people always ask me one major question: What are the hours like for a conductor? Well, to make it simple, you are on call. You are on call as a conductor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You will probably work holidays and special events.


To elaborate on this a little further, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. For example, the railroad I work for, CN Rail, does give you some time off. If you work a yard, you can book rest. If you work a road trip, you can book rest also. You will have days off, so don't think you are working non-stop with no rest periods or time to see your family.

On the contrary, if you are scheduled to work on Christmas day, tough luck. You will be expected to be there. Once you start holding higher seniority, you will be able to be on specific jobs that only run certain times so that gives you a bit of a better schedule. Conductors are also eligible for engineer training. So being a conductor does have its perks despite sometimes crappy work hours.

What Is the Work Like?

Aside from hours, another major question is what is the work like. This depends on where your home terminal is located. If you are located at a terminal where there isn't a yard, you will get mostly road work, which includes spotting industries and doing a lot of sitting on the engine.

You may also have to do some repairs to cars, like changing a knuckle if it breaks, so that would entail walking the train. That sucks when it is like -40C outside with a wicked wind chill and you have a long train. If you work the yard, your job would entail building trains, pulling pins, getting on and off moving cars, etc. The yard is a bit more physical, but still not at all hard.

The Hiring Process

Each railroad has its own personal hiring process. But they all have one major concern in common: safety.

If you are a safe person and can demonstrate that in your interview and resume, you have a major advantage over those applicants that are not safety oriented.

What to Wear to a Conductor Interview?

There are those people who will tell you to "wear the part." This is furthest from the truth, however. When you go to an interview for any of the railroads, you need to dress in nice pants and a nice shirt. Never wear jeans to an interview. It speaks that you may not be as serious as another applicant that took the time to dress better.

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What did I wear to my interview? I work black dress pants, dress shoes, and a nice matching sweater. You don't have to wear a suit and tie, but you should look like you put at least 80% effort into your interview day.

But that's just my two cents.

What Questions Do They Ask in Conductor Interviews?

The questions that I was asked, as well as many other applicants, were all situation-based questions.

Examples of Questions You Might Encounter:

  • What would you do if your train went into emergency and was blocking an intersection where motorists were stopped? You have been stopped for a length of time, and some motorists are starting to leave their vehicles and are getting angry. What would you do as a conductor?
  • Name a time at a previous job where safety was a concern. What did you do about it?
  • When it comes to safety, who's responsibility is it?

Safety First

Safety needs to be incorporated into each of these questions. No matter what the question is, try to incorporate some instance of safety into it. It will do your interview good.

Try not to have a lot of dead air after they ask you the questions. You don't really want to think about the question for too long; don't deliberate and ask them to repeat it. Railroads want employees that can think on the fly.

What Experience Has Taught Me

I am speaking from my own experiences with a very large railroad as a conductor; understand that even though I am sharing tips and experiences with you, yours might be entirely different. It depends on the railroad you apply to and whether or not your recruiter had his pancakes with whipped cream in the morning or not. I cannot make you get hired on as a conductor, no matter how awesome I am.

Consider Health and Criminal Background Before Applying

Something to take note of is that if you have chronic health conditions, you will probably not get hired. You have to pass a vision and hearing test as well as a physical fitness test.

If you have stupid marks on your background check like assault, drugs, animal abuse, crap like that, you will probably get no response from the recruiters as to if you are getting hired or not. In short, you will not get hired. Simple as that. Keep your nose clean, fellas, and good luck.

Listen To Your Supervisor

And if you do get hired, what your supervisors say goes. Do not argue. That is the fastest way to make enemies and see your way out the door. If they tell you to jump up and down three times and sing the birthday song before you couple some cars, do it. Especially if you're new. Good luck, and enjoy your new career!

Update: Practice Railroad Flat Switching Test

I recently received numerous requests for a practice test for the railroad flat switching test they give to people applying for the conductor position. I thought I would help some people out and make a simple and quick practice test, even though it's nothing elaborate by no means.

You can find the practice test on my profile page or at this link.

Thanks for reading!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


James on March 28, 2019:

How do you pass the CN assessment before the interview

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 01, 2019:

No. You should get flashcards and a page for your rules book with all the signals on it. There may be duplicate questions on the test but there are most definitely NOT 300 signals. You will have as follows: Clear, Clear to Stop, Advance Clear to Stop, Diverging, Clear to Diverging, Clear to Medium, Medium to Medium, Clear to Slow, Slow to Slow, Slow to Clear, Medium to Clear, you know what, just google Canadian CTC Signals lol. You should find them with diagrams and explanation of each. You will have to memorize all the aspects and the meaning of the signal word for word. It's not too bad though if you study them once a night while in class. Also, they break them down into groups unless they changed it. Gotta have 100% to pass that though and it's mandatory you pass. Good luck.

Dizz on December 21, 2018:

Does anyone know how many signals are on the test when your in winnipeg for training ? Ive heard 130. Up to 300.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on October 13, 2018:

Not sure if you have done the medical yet but yes, there is physical tests. A mockup of hanging off the side of a car and they monitor your heart rate. If it gets to high you fail. Grip test. Etc... Hope that helps.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on September 22, 2018:

They will consider all applications no matter what you do, unless you sell crack for a living. Just state that safety is important to you as well as the safety for others. Safety is everybody's responsibility.

abhiom on September 06, 2018:


I am interested in applying for the Conductor position with CN / CP . Just wondering I do not have any experience in these jobs or a job where safety is a concern . I am a Store Manager and a sales person . Will they consider my resume ?

Please guide .



BigC on June 14, 2018:

I applied January 2017, got called for the switch test/fair in april and was in winnipeg 2 weeks after that date.

Sam1122 on May 26, 2018:

Can any on e reply how I have to wait after Medical ? applied for Edmonton.

Sam1122 on May 26, 2018:

Thank you Patric for your reply... appreciated

Did my back ground check, waiting for my Medical next week...

How long I have to wait after Medical? To go Winnipeg??

Any one plzz reply

Applied for Edmonton

Patrick on May 23, 2018:

Pre-hire medical test is a sight test(including color blindness), hearing test, basic physical inspection by a doctor, and a drug urine test. It does not include a physical fitness test, however there are 2 weeks in the course that will include a physical test or a variety of tasks, some harder than you might think. If you're not physically fit, I wouldn't bother apply yet.

Sam1122 on May 22, 2018:

Hello, how was the medical, does this require physical test as well ??

I have passed my online test, switch test and interview, just waiting for next step.

Bilal on May 15, 2018:

I did my online assessment test today that requires you to finish 30 questions in 8 minutes. i completed i believe 15-20 all right answers. Would that be a problem?

John on May 14, 2018:

Done with the background check and the medicals, waiting for the call now. Location jasper.

Mrharris on April 14, 2018:

I did the online assessment and my application status on there website went from under review to closed. Am I out of the running for the job?

zach on March 14, 2018:

What happens after you pass your conductors training. I live in winnipeg, so when I apply, do I apply to a different city (they dont have winnipeg atm) and then just relocate after that?

Rockjock957 on March 13, 2018:

I applied online a couple of months ago and was contacted last week by CN and asked over the phone basically the same questions that you have posted above. I was then told that I would receive an online assessment by email that had to be completed within 5 days. I completed the test today consisting of a 30 question timed test where I completed 24 out of the 30 with all I believe to be correct. Do you think that I am still in the running?

Rob on March 13, 2018:

I applied online and was contacted last week by an interviewer who asked me very much the same questions that you have posted above. I was then told that I would receive an email that would direct me to an online test that had to be completed within 5 days of receiving. I completed the test today and it was only a 30 question timed test. I finished 24 of 30, all of which I believe to be correct, and that was it? What are the chances that I will be continuing on in the process?

Gobinder on March 08, 2018:

I applied online, received online assessment, passed it, waited for 2 months, just today received an email for job fair. Can anyone tell me what kind of test will happen there?

GuGuGaGa on February 22, 2018:

No one is trying to answer the questions here :(

Partab on February 21, 2018:

hello every one, can any one tell thatwhat they do to pass medical test, some one told me that physical fitness is difficult.

can you tell what exercises they do to pass medical fitness???

Maratax on January 31, 2018:

Just had my switch test yesterday followed by interview. I was invited to stay for the remainder of the session followed by an interview which I felt went quite well.

I was given a slip for a medical test followed by receiving an email to complete some information to send off for a criminal background check. Thankfully for me I have no prior history and I was a big sports addict a few years ago so I feel the medical part shouldn't be an obstacle hopefully.

Anyways fingers crossed that everything goes well and I get an offer to join CN as it seems like an amazing opportunity to really challenge myself and develop an amazing career!

Jamie on January 04, 2018:

Just wondering how the Conductor training in Winnipeg works? Are you in Winnipeg for 7 weeks straight? or do you get to go home on weekends? How they get you to Winnipeg and home, whats hotel like ..etc

Any help would be Greatly Appreciated!!



Smasher07 on January 02, 2018:

Just wondering how the Conductor training in Winnipeg works? Are you in Winnipeg for 7 weeks straight? or do you get to go home on weekends? How they get you to Winnipeg and home, whats hotel like ..etc

Any help would be Greatly Appreciated!!



Andrew on October 15, 2017:

Is the medical same day as interview

Charlie,, on October 12, 2017:

My son passed everything and got hired as a conductor. Went to Winnipeg for training for 7 weeks. He did well, passed every test and did well in the yard. When he wrote the final exam he got 80% and they terminated him because he did not get 90%. Is this for real? A person passes everything spend 7 weeks in training then gets kicked out becuase of the last exam? I think its pretty dumb and sad. I thought training was to get him ready for a new career. If he did poorly all seven weeks then its a different story.

Matt on July 18, 2017:

So, I did my test and interview here in the States last week Tuesday. I passed, they actually said that I scored the highest of the non railroaders in this hiring pool. They're taking 6 guys for the local yard; I haven't heard anything. I've called, emailed, and am about to pull my hair I know that's dramatic, but, they said the plan was to have us all report for school on July 31, 13 days from now. And I've heard nothing...any thoughts?

Bob on May 07, 2017:

One question in the on-line assessment asked " A Leap Year happens in how many years?"

I don't know what a question like that has to do with Conducting or how it reflects if a person is able to do the job.

Bob on April 28, 2017:

If you pass your interview, switch test and medical but fail the online assessment what's the chances of being selected. Keep in mind if a person already has 10 years experience handling railcard and having a rules card ?

Jroc on April 08, 2017:

What is the vision test like?

Angie on March 07, 2017:

Hi Clifford, I had a question or two about the interview section.

The thing is, I have no experience whatsoever in anything related to railways, but still attempted to apply for a job at CN about a year ago from now. I passed the online test, and was requested to go to the interview. It was as you said, with the flat switching test. One of the interviewers came and saw me personally after everyone was done, and they started interviewing and told me I had a perfect score on said test, and he was pretty happy to '' see a young woman being able to go this far with the application''. Then came the interview, and they asked about the same questions as you mentioned, and that's where it got me. Not knowing any procedures, or what do do in specific events, I kind of stressed out and knew that was the end of me. Do you have any tips on how to answer these questions, if ever I do get to go this far in an application? I know you mentioned staying on the safety side, and lord knows I tried to do so. I really want to be able to get a job as a conductor, and am working really hard to get there. I just know it'll be harder since I'm a girl and only 23... Thanks for future response

Jason on March 05, 2017:

I go for my medical and other tests on March 10th. My question is about the signals exam. I have heard its a 100% to pass and you have to know the exact wording. Now if you fail, will they retest you, or are you considered done. Seems like a lot of money to train a guy just to send him packing.

leezj17 on November 18, 2015:

My husband was recently laid off after he qualified as a conductor about 5 months ago. Wanted to get some feedback since we dont know anyone in the industry... Is this typical? or should he start looking for a new career path. CP is hiring right now but he heard that it is better to stick with CN and wait it out. Thoughts?

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on July 05, 2015:

You still have a chance. They are in a hiring freeze right now. No hiring until closer to fall/winter from what I've heard. Hang in there.

mo on June 19, 2015:

Hi, I have a question, I applied in Jan 2015, status was open, then placed on hold. When the job status changed to "open" I got a call for a switch test. I passed it and moved on to the interview. They told me the process would take around 6 weeks. Well I have not heard anything back from HR since the interview on April 2015. nothing about a drug test or background test. It is now June. The job status changed from open to on hold and my application status says "under review". You think I still have a chance? Not sure why its on hold right now. I emailed recruiting and they replied with "The hiring for that position is on hold at the moment" What are your thoughts?

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on June 04, 2015:

They want you. Just not hiring right now. Kinda slow at the moment.

Ryan on April 21, 2015:

Great write-up! I just went through the hiring process for cn out of Melville. I received an email today saying I was successful through the hiring process but was placed in the candidate pool. I've since noticed a new job posting out of Melville for a freight conductor. Do I have a chance at it since they went through the trouble of a medical or am I out of luck? Would a guy be waiting a long time if in a pool for a terminal like Melville where they are forever hiring?


Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on April 03, 2015:

I have no idea what laborer training consists of. If it was conductor I would say study hard every night and don't drink any booze or go out partying. If you are serious about the position, I'd say with any position, pay attention and give it your everything! Good luck and gratz.

Fred on March 28, 2015:

Congrats sralmani! So it was nearly a 4 month period total huh? What position did you get accepted for? And where are you from?

sralmani on March 24, 2015:

Hello there! Got an email from CN ofering me the position, which I accepted without any delay. My three week training will start from 6th April in Winnipeg. Any headsup or advise for Labour training. Thanks

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on March 03, 2015:

on the job training can take up to 6 months. although, they are trying to push them through quickly, so maybe 3 months. just depends on how fast he learns the job and what kind of work there is out there. first year conductors usually make around 60-70k depending on what job they are holding and how much they work. there are a lot of factors involved.

leezj17 from canada on February 21, 2015:

My husband just finished his 7 week training and starts his orientation on monday. He had to moved to edmonton while the rest of the family is still living in our hometown. Just wondering how long it will take to finish his on the job training? and how much do conductors make the first year approximately? We are trying to budget since he has his own living expenses out there already.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on February 03, 2015:

Dont be on your phone during class, AT ALL. Don't drink any alcohol, give it up for a few weeks while in class. study hard. read the CROR religiously. study signals every night. and pay attention and take lots of notes.

sralmani on February 02, 2015:

Congartes and good luck for your training. BTW, which city did you apply.

Skaol on February 01, 2015:

Would like to thank you for your feed back. I got the call i start training soon any advice for college and to prepare myself for the training?

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 30, 2015:

Like everything at CN, all unionized jobs are based on seniority. So they need more guys in the winter due to the snow and ice, cleaning switches, etc.. In the summer, things run much smoother so they might not need all the laborers they hired for the winter. Therefore, that would be a layoff. However, I'm not in HR so I don't know 100% if they would lay you off or not. I just know in the past, all the guys they hired was seasonal labor. I applied for the same thing in the very beginning. What is funny is that, just like you, they put me in the candidate pool, chose not to hire me. Then, once I became a conductor, they called me like 7 mo's into my conductor position and offered me the laborer position. I was like, nah I'm already a conductor. You can keep your laborer position. But that took like 1 yr 7 mo's for them to even call me and they hired guys for that position around me. Just like you.

sralmani on January 29, 2015:

thanks for all your feedback.... are you saying that labour job is not permanent or rather most of the time layedoff??

They have denied me for intermodal labour job, i tried again to apply today for the same job as they have posted the vacancy once more, it wont let me apply for this!!

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 29, 2015:

OK. First off, 99% of my trainees did NOT take the RRC course. You can take it if you want, but I feel that your chances of hiring on are about the same as if you didn't. There is no tuition for CN to train you. They pay you to train on the job and in classroom.

Yes. Lifting 80 lbs. is required. How often you have to tote around an 80 lb knuckle depends on your engineer and how rough he is with the train. I can tell you that in my 2.5 years, I've changed 0 knuckles. Lucky? Maybe. You are required during training though to carry the knuckle the length of 1 car (50ft) and back for a total of 100 ft and set it down.

No, you aren't required to wear safety glasses over your glasses. They make prescription safety glasses that you can get from an eye doctor and CN reimburses you the money. They are actually quite nice, with clear lenses at night and tinted during the day. I wish I had some even though I don't wear presc. glasses.

You're welcome!

P.S. If you are thinking of becoming a conductor, you will probably be in the yard for quite some time. Minimum 3-5 years with a chance of getting forces away from home to a different terminal until you can hold your home terminal. Just so you know.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 29, 2015:

First of all, they are in negotiations with the engineers at the moment. I'm not sure about steel workers union or any of the other ones. If the only union they are negotiating with at the moment is the teamsters for enginemen, that should have no effect on you getting hired for laborer or equipment operator... Like I said, they have so many trainees right now everywhere, they probably can't handle anymore right now. Winter will be coming to an end here soon and all those laborers will be laid off, as it's more than likely seasonal. It's bad luck that those other guys got hired before you even though they applied after you. Pretty much everything in this job is unfair though to be quite honest lol. Patience, patience, and about a years more patience. That's all I can tell you. It took me about 7 mo's to hear anything for my conductor position.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 29, 2015:

It means CN isn't hiring anyone right this second but may very well hire in the near future. It can take months to a year or more to hear anything. Patience is a must in the railroad hiring game.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 29, 2015:

They can be all over the map as far as hiring, honestly. They pick and choose however they wish, even if you are the absolute best candidate for the job, they may pick someone else just because of the vibe the HR person got off them., even if they aren't the BEST candidate for the job.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 29, 2015:

Equipment operator is a way better job in my opinion. The intermodal yard is gravy in terms of a good job. Laborer is often seasonal and may not offer advancement. Equipment operator will allow you to eventually operate the intermodal container crane. Really nice job.

Fred on January 28, 2015:

Hello, I am currently looking into this profession and I am also from Winnipeg. Very helpful and informative page btw! I read everything but I still have some questions I hope you or anyone can answer.

I am thinking about taking the railway conductor course at Red River College. It is a 15-week course and costs more than $10,000. Do you recommend this? Apparently you can just apply to rail companies with no experience or knowledge and they will teach/train you themselves?! Do they have their own tuition fee or is it all taken care of "in-house"?

Unless they prefer applicants with knowledge or give preference to RRC graduates, it seems better to straight out apply directly?

As for the physical test, is the ability to lift 80 lbs a 100% necessity? How often did you lift that much? And for how far/long were you to lift it for? Also, I wear glasses, so would that hurt my chances at all? Would I wear safety glasses over my regular glasses lol?

Thank you!

sralmani on January 28, 2015:

Hi SKoal, I think we are sailing in the same boat,,,So confusing for the time being..... I called HR yesterday, they had no satisfactory answer regarding people hired who did their interview and medical after me, however they said that right now CN and union are in negotiation phase therfore there is a freeze on hiring!!!...Who knows what's going on. May be Mr.mrpudgy has better clue.... I will wait for his comments.

SKoal on January 27, 2015:

Hello i went for my interview for conductor in December, went for my medical shortly after. Currently in candidate pool. never received email or call. so i finally call HR, they said they have to await approvals before hiring so many people, it was a good thing to be in candidate pool they said. But someone i knew who took the interview and medical at same time was hired. does this mean ?

sralmani on January 23, 2015:

Hi there, today I met some folks at CN yard, just arrived from Winnipeg after their training, they applied for the same "Labour" position for the same yard, had medical after I got my medical done. They said, they were sent for training within couple of days after their medical.

I am just little disappointed with my result as I am still on their "pool candidate list". Is this normal too at CN, "last gets first and first gets last"

sralmani on January 23, 2015:

I did apply for the position of "Labourer/Equipment operator/HEO-Intermodal Yard" and did passed online test/questionnaire. Now my job submission status shows like "On line testing completed-Passed". I havn't received any thing from CN for this particular job and its still open position, however they have again advertised the same position today.

How you compare both like "Labour- Specialized Trades" and "Labourer/Equipment operator/HEO-Intermodal Yard", If I get a call for the later one too, which one I should accept. Your kind advice will be much appreciated.

sralmani on January 22, 2015:

Thanks a lot for your kind response....I think "Accepting in to the class", you mean to say, next available training session for labours in Winnipeg, isn't it. BTW, the position "Labour" was in specialized trades, so iam assuming sort of typical workshop work... along with all sorts of rough tough jobs as you mentioned, what's your take on this, as my goal is to move forward in to mechanical trades at CN. I just wanted to get in to CN and make my way forward for a long term better position.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 21, 2015:

Candidate pool means that when they do actually start accepting the guys into the class, you WILL be called. They want you when they start taking guys in. Realistically, you could wait 6 mo's or more. I had to wait about that time for the conductor position. I will tell you a saying that EVERYONE in the railway knows. It's called "Hurry up and wait". That saying is well known around here. For the labor position, they normally hire the guys on for the winter blowing switches and chipping ice. Stuff like that. It's almost like a seasonal position at times. They don't always need laborers. Good luck in your endeavors.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 21, 2015:

So you did go to the Winnipeg campus or you didn't? Or did you just finish the switch test, medical, interview, etc etc... If you are interested in rules instructor, you should look online for openings. I know they were looking a while back. If you are in your 50's, as far as I know, they are looking for guys mid 30's below. You may get in but, realistically, I wouldn't set my hopes banking everything on it. Sorry man, but I don't want to lie to guys. I have to tell it how it is, realistically.

sralmani on January 20, 2015:

Hi there, I had applied on-line for couple of different jobs. I was called for an interview for a "LABOR" position on December 2nd 2014, followed by a medical on 8th December 2014, in Edmonton AB. Doctor told me that,

" every thing is good, and you can work for CN" he was also pleased with my hearing test. After medical, my job status online shows as "Candidate Pool".

I sent an email to HR for followup after christmas holidays, I got the reply as,

" You status has not changed you are still in candidate pool, we are currently not hiring. Once we receive permission to hire we will then review at that time".

I just have no idea what's going on, specially for (Currently Not Hiring) its been now one and half months already!!

As you mentioned in your previous answer that call for medical means "YES", subject to medical goes well.

Is there any idea when they are going to offer me the job and then proceed for training. I will appreciate for your kind response. Thanks

Kay dub on January 20, 2015:

Mr. Pudgy:

I hope you can buck me up a bit. I finished the conductor course in Dec 2014 and was interviewed/med exam, etc., but as of date have not heard anything. Medical went well, no probs, but some of my classmates who were chronically late/no shows got to go to training in Winnipeg, while I sit here. I am in my 50s, but I WANT TO WORK. I finished the course with a GPA of 3.98, yet I linger. Am I realistic in hoping my skills and work ethic will get me a job?

BTW, I love rules and signals and think I could be a great peer teacher in the training classes.

misdemeanor on January 09, 2015:

I'm going in for a switch test/interview in Wisconsin on the 20th. I have a misdemeanor battery on my record. I'm confident in my ability to pass everything but this background check.

Should I just say "screw it"?..... according to your article it's not looking good for me.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on January 08, 2015:

A little late on the reply so I hope you had a good turnout on your test. Personally, I don't "think" the beard matter, but then again, I aint HR, so I don't know their deepest darkest secrets. I would say that if they hauled you over from a different state, they must like something you had to offer. Good luck.

Shandy on December 30, 2014:

In one week I am going in for the switch test/interview in Wisconsin, USA. I currently have a beard and have heard mixed results about it when applying for the railroad, I know it seems kinda silly, but would it be advisable to shave it off before hand, or just keep it neet and close? Also, I don't know if you would know the answer to this question or not but I thought I would ask: If they have invited someone to this from another state, does that mean that the HR reps liked something from my resume or that there is a high chance of me getting hired on? Thank you for the article!

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on December 07, 2014:

Here in Canada at least, yes. When you work at least 1075 miles in the yard or road (since in the yard hours is converted to miles), you can get what we call an EO. You can choose to take up to 48 hours off. If you get 4300 miles before your month is up, you can take the rest of the month off, which is your mileage date. Hope that helps.

Mike on November 25, 2014:

Is there ever a time that you can book a 48hr rest rather than a 24hr rest? (if you are a road conductor)

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on October 30, 2014:

nah if you are going for a medical they want you. They wouldn't waste the money. as long as you pass the drug test and physical exam. Yes there will be "lifting" etc.

Stephanie on October 18, 2014:

I have my medical this coming Week. Do they usually send ppl for medical if they don't plan to hire them? Is this only going to be a drug and health test or should I expect to lift x amount of weight ..?

Greg K on October 07, 2014:

Sorry for the late reply, I haven't checked back in a bit!

This is in Montreal. My status was upgraded to "under review" about two weeks back. Not much since. Lengthy process!

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on September 05, 2014:

Good luck. Where did you apply for if you don't mind me asking.

Greg K on August 27, 2014:

Thanks for the swift replies. I appreciate it! =)

I did re-apply last night. There's a mid-September interview session, that much I know from the HR director. Applications close on the 10th, so I should be hearing something soon, whichever way that something goes.


Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on August 27, 2014:

I would think there should be something there. I'm not sure though, since they like to change things all the time. For me, when I applied 2.5 years ago, all my stuff was on the site and showed me a status. You might want to redo it. If it still doesn't show, then I have no clue. Keep in mind though, it took me between 6-8 months to hear anything. Then when I did, it was like, go for the physical, you start class in 1 week. They don't really give you time to plan ANYTHING.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on August 27, 2014:

It's not like free hanging there with your feet dangling. Basically, it's as if you were to be riding a car. Can you stand on a step and hold yourself on the car. That's what it is testing you for. Then they do a push/pull test to test you to see if you can line a switch or tie on a handbrake. That is about it. Then, in railroad "bootcamp" they make you carry a knuckle that weighs about 80-100 lbs a car length or two. I can't remember. It's there and back whatever it is.

That's the gist of it.

Greg K on August 26, 2014:

Also, if you could tell me what holding yourself up for 5 minutes means precisely. On a pull-up bar? I've read and heard of widely varying physical tests. I'm fit, with good cardio and decent strength, not overweight at all, but I'd like to know what's potentially coming to better prepare =)

Thanks for any assistance with either matter.

Greg K on August 26, 2014:

I applied to the conductor position online and received email confirmation with a candidate reference number. All seems well, except that when I log onto my CN account, there is no status under Job Submission Status. It simply says: "There is no job submission status to display". Is that the norm, if you remember? Or does it mean I should re-apply? I was referred by a friend, an active conductor, who also emailed the recruiter for me. I haven't heard anything from them in 3 weeks, so I'm wondering if my application somehow triggered the automatic email but still wasn't recorded. Just wanna know if it's normal that there's nothing in my profile. No info. No resume. Nada. I did upload all of that when I applied...

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on August 23, 2014:

Unfortunately, yes. most of the reviews are accurate. In my terminal, most management are pretty good. But there are times I almost pack it in.

Mark Tyson on August 16, 2014:

Are any of these reviews accurate?

I'm really freaking out to apply. If management bears down on you, then why work for CN? I want to, but this discourages me a little.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on July 06, 2014:

Not sure. I didn't have to take that test when i hired on. That is something they have started within the past couple years.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on July 06, 2014:

Probably. I would assume so anyway. That's how it goes for most people. This comment is 2 months old, but did you end up getting a good call?

Doug on June 23, 2014:

I have applied before and got to the big test with math and other questions but didn't make it past that point. Is the point of that test to get as many done as possible or even if you only get a few done, they are done correctly? I assume it is the later of the two, but what is your thought on this?

CanadianPiper on April 12, 2014:

Not sure if you're still seeing these but I have a medical assessment on Tuesday. I understand the next training class starts May 5th. If I've been called in for the medical assessment, is it safe to guess that I'll be offered a job as long as I pass the medical assessment?

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on March 23, 2014:

They won't let you continue. But, if you want to work for the railroad anyway, talk to HR and see if they will take you on with a different department other than transportation. Where was you taking your class? US or Canada? Also, you may be able to reapply for another class, but they may not take you back since you were already let go once. The trick to passing those exams is to note the major points in the rulebook for the rules you have studied thus far and make sure you know where to find them when the question asks you about the rule. The big ones are obviously watching your point, shoving equipment, and anything to do with public safety, well, that's pretty much the whole book lol. Just know where everything is. Page tabs are great for quickly finding a rule like rule 105 for example. But you have to know what the rule is talking about by number alone to be able to quickly apply it to the question at hand. Read the rulebook EVERY night while in rules. It works wonders and hey, it's only 7 weeks of your life that you are reading that boring thing every night =P Good luck!

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on March 23, 2014:

Depends on when they are planning on starting the class. Usually they don't tell you until about a couple weeks before the class starts. Good luck.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on March 23, 2014:

They are looking for "leaders" in the crowd. People who want to work all the time and not ask questions about it are also looked highly upon. Basically, people who have a strong aptitude for working continuously under immense stress, no sleep, and the like. Those qualities are what will get you to pass that questionaire if i'm thinking about the same one. Even if you don't possess those qualities, answer the questions so that it makes you seem like you do. If you go for the interview, they are going to ask you a lot of "what would you do in this situation." Just answer with safety in mind and if you don't know what you would do, ask a supervisor. Take the safe course." When they ask who's responsibility is safety, answer: EVERYONES! It is everyones job to make sure that they are safe and everyone around them is safe while working. To make sure nobody gets hurt or hurts someone else.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on March 23, 2014:

Could be likely. This past year in 2013 we had a few guys get transferred out of winnipeg. With the new agreement that is coming into effect, I personally don't think it would be good for anyone who likes to be home with their families to hire on though. If you like to do nothing but be at work all the time though, sure, apply right away lol.

Neptune on February 17, 2014:

I passed made it to the end of week 3 of training then ran out of time writing second exam. ended up getting 79 needed 90. I was released from the program. What should I do. I just want to continue the program but I can't.

hello on December 07, 2013:

How long after you finished and passed the physical/medical did it take before you heard if you were hired or not?

Rebecca1978ca from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on December 04, 2013:

Please please help. Passed the switch test, and failed the online assesment test. NOT the 206 question test it was about 25 -20 questions asking agree strongly agree etc,, And don't know what happened this time! I am thinking I failed the online test (25-20 question ire) but why?....! Is my concern? How can you fail this opinion test and what are they looking for for the correct answers. Please help if any one could give me advice . I was notified via email the next day after taking the short online assess that I had not passed it . So that's what the problem was. Why?....please help

Ps I wanna reapply in 6 months what should I do to pass. .? Please help

Thanks so much hope someone is out there

s on December 03, 2013:

How often or what is the chance of a Winnipeg Train Conductor getting transferred out of Winnipeg? Just curious...

Fazelo on June 03, 2013:

Hey I participated in a group interview after completing the online assessments; it was part of an Ontario Go West thing CN rail is doing. They administered the switching test and everyone who passed was told to hand in copies of their government ID, Resume and background screening form. I was wondering how long it will be until another interview is held does anyone know?

fitness on May 28, 2013:

You said hold yourself up for 5 minutes. As in a pull up position? or how so? Just wondering. I'm a former competitive athlete so I should be fine but just wondering what to expect. Ps great site!

reginahoepful on May 28, 2013:

Hello, I just attended the interview/info session. My interview was fairly quick (12 mins approx). Just wondering if this is a good or bad thing? I was quick and emphasized safety so I hope it was cause I was clear with my answers that it didn't take too long.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 25, 2013:

Shouldn't as long as they are doctor prescribed. Don't quote me on that though. You never know what HR thinks. Good luck.

saskie on May 23, 2013:

Hey I have had issues of depression in the past and although I no longer experience symptoms, I still take anti-depressants. Will this stop me from passing the medical?

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 23, 2013:

To be honest, I don't think the conductor program gives you any better advantage over other applicants. I have seen numerous instructors, managers, and other employees frown upon new hires that brag about taking the course. They seem to prefer training the guys and girls that don't take it from what I've seen. Just my 2 cents.

Yes, the money is good. You work very long hours though to get it... So there are pro's as well as con's. Sometimes it seems the con's outweigh the pro's, but the paycheck is always nice to see in your account after the half. I wouldn't say the work is strenuous. It can be a highly stressful job though. You have a lot of paperwork that has to be done almost flawlessly or you get in a lot of trouble, or you can get in a lot of trouble I should say.

There is A LOT of stuff to learn. Learning the territory, how to switch, how to get along with hundreds of different personalities that you may not exactly like working with. Changing a knuckle isn't "hard" but it is freaking heavy. About 80lbs and sometimes you may have to carry it quite a distance, like quarter mile or more if you aren't able to get it back there a different way. Yes, you will getting on and off moving cars etc. I wouldn't say it is "dangerous" as long as you follow the rules and don't act like a moron lol. But, there are ppl like that everywhere right? Following the rules is a major part of working for the railroad. You can and will get fired if you can't follow the rules and they have no qualm about putting you out the door. It isn't the most slack job I've ever had, I'll just put it that way. BUT, in the end, there are days I abslutely LOVE my job and then there are days I'm ready to just pack it in. You have to be able to adapt to do well at this job and take criticism, good and bad, and not let snarly ppl get you down. Any other questions, let me know. Good luck.

umbattag from Winnipeg, Manitoba CANADA on May 22, 2013:

Hey Pudgy, just wondering how long you've been a conductor and how do you like it? How dangerous it is (you mentioned jumping on and off moving cars)? How strenuous it is (removing/replacing knuckles, etc..). Also, is it interesting?; I see you went to university. Do you like the work or are you bored? I know the money is very good! The reason I ask is that I went to an info session at RRC, about their conductor program, it looks interesting but I'm worried about spending $10,500 and not getting hired on. The instructor (Perry Something) said that everyone will at least get an interview with CN. I'm also 40, do you think my age will be a sticking point with CN HR? Also, good hub; you have a good writing style.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 19, 2013:

Sure you stand a chance. They had a big speech when I was in training about how they want to hire employees of different gender and change the old culture of the railway being men only or whatever. There was a female in my class and I worked with 5 different women in my old terminal and there are many more at my new terminal. Good luck with the process =)

Cass on May 18, 2013:

This post is so helpful thank you! Just wondering how many women conductors you work with or know of. I have a session interview at the end of month and really would like to know if I even stand a chance.

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 17, 2013:

Sure. First off, you want all the cars in order on track 1. Here's how I did it.

1. Take your engine with cars A & B and take it all to track 1 and tie onto cars F, C, and D. Track change #1.

2. Next, take the cars you are tied onto in track 1, which are A, B, F, C, and D, and move it all to track 2. Track change #2.

3. Notice now that all the cars are in order except for car F. Car F needs to be on the very end. So, make a cut between cars F & C in track two and move F into track 1. Cut off F and leave it in track 1. Track change #3.

4. Now go back into track 2 and pick up all your cars. Track change #4.

5. Take all your cars into track 1 and tie onto F. All your cars are in the correct order and in track 1 with the locomotive changing tracks a total of 5 times. Track change #5.

Hope that helped you out. You can also accomplish this by tying onto E first off and then tying onto F in TRK 1 and then just block swapping it out in the correct order as they would be in the correct order in pairs of two's. Cheers!

Cliff Beaver (author) from Murfreesboro, TN USA on May 17, 2013:

You have to hold yourself up for 5 minutes, do pull and push tests where you pull on a handle thing. They want you to give it your full strength and you have to meet a certain strength goal for a pass. Keep in mind that if you pass the physical abilities test somehow and end up getting hurt on the job and needing time off, they might just let you go. This has happened before to guys in the past. Just a little heads up.

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