After graduation, most young adults begin the search for what’s next. For Ashley Reid, Rules Instructor/Road Foreman – Mountain Division, graduation meant she could finally apply to CP and embark on an adventurous career working for the railway like her father Jack “John” Reid, a 34-year CP veteran. Now with CP for nearly 16 years herself, Reid’s career has been an exciting journey into the world of steel.
Working in railway operations is not a typical job for young women. What drew you to CP?
I was always interested in what my dad did for a living. Working for the railway seemed like an interesting career and I had a good idea of what it entailed. I mean, I knew it was not your typical nine-to-five job, but that’s what excited me. I really enjoy being outdoors.
What was your first job with CP and how did you come into the role you have now?
I successfully applied for a conductor position and two years later it felt natural to qualify as an engineer on the Mountain sub. I was then offered a trainmaster position, followed by the role I’m in now.
That brings us to your CEO Award for Excellence nomination – congratulations! You were nominated for advancing the training of engineers on the Mountain sub over the last two years. That’s no small feat. Why is this training so important?
Well, our pool of qualified engineers on the Mountain sub was shrinking. Employees were retiring or senior engineers moved to the Shuswap after many years on this challenging terrain. That meant we really needed to accelerate our training and get good, qualified engineers in the seat. We needed to create a new pool of resources for this subdivision.
How do you help people qualify?
Once they pass through the selection process, we get them right into the cab and start working on basic elements of starting and stopping on grades. I’m also fortunate to work with Sam Morrone, Trainmaster–Mountain and Mark Roussell, Trainmaster–Golden who assist with training and qualifying employees. Safety is our number one priority. The ability to manoeuver over grades that may be as steep as 2.4 percent, to flat spots, where half your train is down the hill and the other half gets hung up. This requires concentration and agility. You have to be smart and know your territory.
Part of our success is making it mandatory that trainees complete three trips weekly, as well as having assigned coaches. Trainees are required to do three weekly trips and complete roughly 60 round trips successfully before they do a final qualification trip.
How many engineers have qualified since you took over the training program two years ago?
We’ve qualified 41 locomotive engineers in Revelstoke. I’ve personally ridden with 33 of those trainees for at least a portion of their trips. The others have been qualified by either Morrone or Roussell, mainly because doing the full round trip can take up to 24-30 hours of our time. Sharing the workload means we stay caught up with other duties.